The kitchen and community area on one floor of the WeWork facility in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Co-working is a booming trend in the San Diego region, with over 1.2 million square feet in use — as much space as a big shopping mall — and more on the way, according to a new report by Cushman & Wakefield.

Downtown San Diego has 20 percent of the total co-working space in 12 locations, with WeWork‘s 88,000-square-foot high-rise space the largest, while Carlsbad ranks second at 15 percent but has the most total locations at 15. The University City area is third with 10 percent of the space across six locations.

“Over 960,000 square feet of existing co-working spaces, or 78 percent of the total co-working inventory in San Diego, have opened in the past eight years,” said Jolanta Campion, research director for Cushman & Wakefield in San Diego. “A number of providers are seeking to expand their footprint in San Diego, hoping to ink deals for space within the next year.”

Regus is the largest co-working provider in San Diego with 22 percent of the region’s inventory across 18 locations, followed by WeWork with large locations downtown and in University City. Other significant providers are Premier Business Centers, Boxer Workstyle, Small Offices 4 Rent and Barrister Executive Suites. Nearly 500,000 square feet of space is divided among other companies with 47 locations.

Campion said said co-working, which ranges from a virtual office to a shared desk to a complete managed facility, is gaining popularity because of its low cost and flexibility, especially for startups. Shared desk space with office services typically costs less than $300 a month.

“Coworking is gaining popularity among tech startups and creatives such as marketing and web design companies along with freelancers and independent contractors,” she said. “Physical and financial flexibility are becoming the new ’normal’ for the twenty-first century workforce and co-working supports these needs.”

She noted that a number of specialized co-working facilities have emerged in San Diego, focusing on life sciences, technology, film production, legal services, nonprofits and female entrepreneurs

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.