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Access vs. ownership: Why workspace-on-demand is the future

Kane Willmott

In the past decade, there’s been a massive shift in consumer behaviour: modern consumers are prioritizing access over ownership.

What exactly does this mean?

It means that people today prefer cost-effective, flexible, and convenient access to goods and services rather than outright ownership of them.

This trend has fueled the rise of the “sharing economy”—an industry projected to be worth $335 billion by 2025.

And it’s the reason why “workspace-on-demand” is the future for the office space industry.

Exploring the sharing economy in daily life

The term, “sharing economy,” might be new to you, but the products and services it comprises are undoubtedly part of your daily life.

The sharing economy is everywhere.

Streaming movies and music

The rise of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify upended the traditional way of consuming music and movies by allowing consumers to put thousands of their favourite songs in their pockets and watch films on a one-time basis time without purchasing a copy to own forever.

The result?

Blockbuster imploded. The sale of DVDs dropped by more than 86% in just over a decade. And the purchase of CDs dropped by 28% in 2022 alone.


Much like music and movies, the rise of eReaders enabled people to keep dozens of books on a half-pound digital device rather than carrying around clunky books.

Carsharing and ridesharing

The rise of carsharing and ridesharing made it easier than ever for people to get where they needed to go by providing access to cost-effective, hassle-free transportation.

Ridesharing platforms gave people access to vehicles they could use when and how they needed, offering a viable solution to the upfront hassle and costs as well as the ongoing maintenance expenses associated with buying or leasing a vehicle they didn’t always need.

To the same tune, the emergence of Uber and Lyft shook the taxi industry to its core, providing fresh competition in an industry that had long been dominated by a small number of service providers.

With the rise of these platforms, consumers no longer had to call and wait for a taxi and then manually pay whatever fee showed up on the metre.

Instead, they could hail their rides, track their driver’s arrival time, see exactly how long it would take to get to their destination, and pay a predetermined fare—all through a centralized app.

The idea behind these apps was simple but brilliant: identify common friction points and frustrations for consumers and eliminate them.


Platforms like ClassPass operate on subscription models and provide members with access to fitness classes from various studios and gyms in their local area—and around the world.

Instead of purchasing a gym membership in your city, these services give you the opportunity to try all kinds of activities, from yoga to cycling, Pilates, strength training, and everything in between—without having to sign up for individual memberships for each.


The internet enabled people to learn virtually anything, inexpensively or for free—and services like Udemy and Coursera took that concept to a new level.

These platforms allow experts in various fields to create and share online courses with learners around the world. This peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge and skills, facilitated by a digital platform, means you no longer have to enroll in long, expensive educational programs.

Instead, you can learn exactly and only what you want—at your own pace—for a fraction of the cost of traditional education methods.

When you look at the trends in consumer behaviour, the facts become abundantly clear: the sharing economy represents progress, innovation, and disruption to the status quo—and there’s no going back.

What the rise of the sharing economy tells us about the future of office space

There’s no denying the fact that commercial real estate and office space have long been economic laggards—and for good reason: they’ve never been forced to evolve.

The models have just always worked.

But here’s where it gets interesting: a decade or two ago, the same belief applied to all of the industries that have now been impacted by the sharing economy.

So, what does that tell us about the future of commercial real estate and office space?

It tells us that a massive shake-up isn’t just imminent—it’s happening right now.

Supercharged by work-from-home mandates at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic and sustained by the ongoing viability of remote and hybrid work, workspace-on-demand has become commonplace in the professional world—and for good reason.

It provides solopreneurs, enterprise organizations, and every business in between with the opportunity to commit to office space as they need it rather than signing on for inflexible, long-term commitments and covering the costs to set up, run, and maintain their workspace.

Instead, you can book a meeting room, a desk, a private office, or even a full office suite for as little or as long as you need—without paying for traditional set-up costs like legal fees, equipment, and technology. You can scale your workspace to accommodate your needs, sign a short-form license agreement, and be working in the space within a few hours or days, not months.

At the end of the day, the facts are undeniable. The sharing economy works for a reason: the model makes sense for both businesses and the consumers they serve.

And that’s why it’s clear that the writing is on the wall. The sharing economy is the future and the office industry is following suit.

If you’re looking for a serviced office that’s designed for modern organizations and teams, book a tour of your local iQ Offices location today.

Kane Willmott is the co-founder and CEO of iQ Offices, the largest independent Canadian- owned co-working operator with offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. iQ Offices provides beautiful office spaces with safety, service, privacy and design at the forefront