Mar 1, 2024 - Real Estate

D.C. is seeing more coworking-meets-fitness spaces thanks to remote work

A seating area with a sign reading "Alkova" in the background.

A seating area in Georgetown's Alkova. Photo: Laura Metzler Photography

Instead of taking a Zoom call from their kitchen tables, more DMV remote and hybrid workers are clocking in post-workout at fitness-meets-coworking spaces.

The big picture: As the return-to-office movement struggles within D.C., remote work continues to change D.C. life — where we live, the state of downtown, and the future of office space.

State of play: WFH employees who like to get out of the house but don't want to go into offices are looking for third spaces where they can work on their own schedules — a trend fitness groups are hopping on.

This caters to how employees have restructured their days thanks to remote work — and allows gym owners to utilize space that might sit empty between fitness classes.

What they're saying: While many people aren't antsy to go into an actual office, it's not that they don't want to leave the house at all, says Scott Homa, who heads up property research for commercial real estate group JLL.

  • "Remote work can be socially isolating, and in many cases is just not the best solution for people, at least long term," he tells Axios.

These hybrid gym-work spots allow for more focused environments than coffee shops. And they can be cheaper than traditional coworking spaces — what Homa calls, "your home office away from your home office."

  • Plus, this capitalizes on our collective fixation with personal health and wellness post-Covid.

What they're saying: "The individual has more autonomy than they've ever had as a result of Covid," says James O'Reilly, who runs Life Time's coworking arm, Life Time Work. "[These spaces] speak to that autonomy, and that sense of control over your working day."

Zoom in: Life Time's "athletic country club" in Clarendon has a "club lounge" where members can post up to answer calls and send emails after a workout.

  • While Life Time Work's dedicated coworking spaces existed pre-Covid, the group began adding designated workspaces into their actual health clubs after it noticed members were exercising during 9-to-5 thanks to remote work, O'Reilly tells Axios.

At Georgetown's Alkova, coworking members can break up calls with yoga and pilates classes at the in-house studio.

By the numbers: 42.3% of WFH employees exercise during the workday, compared to 30.8% of those working onsite, according to a survey last year by researchers from universities including Stanford and MIT.

  • 37.6% of WFH employees ran errands during the day, compared to 34.9% of those on-site.
  • And 45.8% of WFH did chores during the day, compared to 24.2% IRL.

The fusion of gym and coworking comes as companies increasingly turn to flex office space.

  • 36% of U.S. corporate real estate executives surveyed in a 2023 CBRE report said flexible office space comprised 10% of their office supply, compared to 19% in the 2022 survey. That number is expected to jump to 50% within the next two years, the survey found.

What we're watching: The DMV's largest employer — the federal government — hasn't enforced a top-down plan to get all workers back in offices, despite pleas from Mayor Bowser and the White House.

  • Should that happen, it's possible that more area workers suddenly might not be able to WFHC (aka work from health club).
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