What Is a Coworking Space?
The answer to the question "What is coworking" depends a lot on the person you are addressing it to. The concept includes so many things and has a different meaning for different people, plus every coworking space is unique.
In this article, we will try to figure out what makes the trend of coworking grow each day, what types of coworkings exist, what are the predictions for coworking business future, and more. You will probably learn some new facts which you can use to impress your colleagues, friends, and customers.
The first mention of the word "coworking" as a shared office environment dates back to 2005 when Brad Neuberg, a dreamer, and undaunted entrepreneur launched the first coworking space in San Francisco.
The location inside Spiral Muse, a feminist collective space in the Mission district of San Francisco was was called the “San Francisco Coworking Space” and was open on Mondays and Tuesdays only.
Space didn't attract any visitors during the first month because the term "coworking space" was completely new to people. They just didn't know what it is.
Nowadays coworking has transformed into a global phenomenon with an annual growth rate of 24.2%. According to Google Trends, the number of coworking spaces is going to increase to 30,432 by 2022. They will unite over 5.1 million members.
What comes to your mind when you think about coworking? Of course, coworking is about sharing infrastructure and cost but it's also about belonging to a community, creativity, fun, flexibility, accessibility, and sustainability.
Coworking is definitely a new way of getting work done and sharing. Coworking ecosystems are created as productive and collaborative environments.
These environments are inhabited by dynamic entrepreneurs enjoying the absence of corporate constraints and limitations and flexible memberships meeting their business and personal requirements.
Here is how different people and organizations define coworking:
Coworking is an arrangement in which several workers from different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructure, such as equipment, utilities, and receptionist and custodial services, and in some cases refreshments and parcel acceptance services.
“Another great reason to use a coworking space is simply for the vibe in the room. It’s like working out at home or going to a gym. You’ll always push yourself harder at the gym because of the other people around you.”
~Alison Robins, OfficeVibe
“Coworking offers more freedom, independence, possibilities for self-realization and overall more freedom of choice than other forms of work.”
~Carsten Foertsch, Deskmag
“From a cash flow perspective, coworking space is ideal for startup entrepreneurs looking for a professional workspace without the high upfront costs and long-term commitment.”
~Susan Ward, The Balance Small Business
Coworking space is a perfect foundation for startups and entrepreneurs. It gives the possibility to both scale up and scale down the number of team members depending on their needs. The costs of shared infrastructure are low, while the community for networking is wide.
Coworking space gives opportunities to increase expertise, listen to mentors, find funding options, and launch a new product.
However, if you think that coworking spaces are mostly for startups and entrepreneurs, you are mistaken. The population of coworking spaces is really diverse.
Here is a brief list including a few types of members that commonly join coworking culture:
Small businesses can benefit from affordable coworking spaces rent prices. There is no need to commit to long-term leases, everything required for smooth business operation is available—meeting rooms, kitchens, free coffee.
Coworking businesses strive to open locations in the areas close to transportation hubs, cafes, shopping spots, and sports facilities. The cost of renting an office in such a location is too high to pay for a small business if they would think of doing this independently.
But that's not all, far from it. Coworking space frees small business owners from dealing with minor office maintenance issues like purchasing soap and toilet paper, paper and pens, changing cartridges for printers, calling out the WiFi repair company, all these and so much more is taken care of for members.
Besides, coworking spaces run a variety of events for members (from cooking classes to workshops, training, lunches, education, and social activities). This is a good chance to meet talents for future cooperation.
Freelancers can enjoy the freedom of coworking policy. They can decide where and when to work staying in the office environment and being a part of a productive community that unites people with a similar mindset.
Coworking is the better alternative for freelancers feeling too isolated working from home or a coffee shop. On top of that, coworking is a place where you can meet smart business people operating all sorts of ventures, so you can make friends with them, find potential clients and partners.
- Corporate Organizations
Corporations also take their benefits from coworking spaces. They encourage remote employees to work from the comfort of coworking hubs, which results in a higher level of team happiness, creativity, and productivity boost along with cool networking opportunities.
Additionally, many coworking spaces organize yoga and meditation classes as well as various wellness activities that help members stay healthy, cheerful, and balance their lifestyles.
Coworking spaces offer quite a number of facilities from hot and dedicated desks to specific venues aimed at members working in different business fields.
Coworking centers differ by sizes and locations, however, there is something common for every space regardless of its specialization. It's a collaborative community, bracing coffee aroma, friendly vibe, and excitement you breeze in with the air.
A great variety of coworking spaces includes but is not limited to:
- Multi-use spaces with their flexible layouts.
- Studios of visual art with their industrial interiors.
- Spaces outfitted with ergonomic furniture and utensils providing the utmost comfort of residents.
- Private offices for teams that require physical proximity for members, yet still want to stay connected to the bigger ecosystem.
- Makerspaces (Makerspace & Co, Marrickville, Australia) for doers loving to make prototypes and tinker with tools.
- Hackerspaces (Hacker Space, Noida, India) welcome creative artists like fashion, graphic, and interior designers.
- Dancing studios (Loom Coworking, Fort Mill, USA) cater to the needs of classic and contemporary dancers.
- Studios for artists (arebyte, London, UK) are great for creative souls working with paint or digital medium.
- Studios for photographers and movie makers.
- Pop-up retail spaces.
- Coworking spaces for lawyers (Chisel, Tysons Corner, Virginia, US.)
- Dedicated areas inside swanky restaurants to work on a pop-up basis (Spacious@La Sirena, NYC.)
- Family coworkings (Let's Play Coworking, London, UK) where members can bring their babies yet stay productive.
- Female-only coworkings or gender-oriented coworking spaces like Shecosystem, Toronto, Canada.
- Rural coworkings or coworkings in the countryside like The Hive 44, Fenton, US , for digital nomads and just freelancers on workation give people a wonderful opportunity to work from any exotic destination on Earth. This kind of coworking usually provides co-living facilities as well.
- Hybrid coworkings like trendy gym coworkings, for instance. Such kind of workspace is a perfect fit for those who can't imagine their lives without sports and workout. Here, they have all the necessary facilities to stay fit and productive at the same time without sacrificing anything.
- Virtual Coworkings provide pretty much the same membership benefits as physical spaces but members don't have to be at the same place. They virtually sit at a specific desk marked in the virtual floorplan, interact with other residents throughout the day, go to virtual locations such as phone booths and meeting rooms.
Member experience is exactly what differentiates a flexible workspace and a traditional office. Modern coworking spaces know how to lure a customer. Their fancy designs and futuristic technologies take your breath away.
As a rule, a coworker's journey starts at a workspace website, where they can read about the amenities, take a virtual tour, and sign up for membership. Right after that, a new member gets an invitation to the coworking space app.
Every solid coworking brand offers beautiful mobile apps for members. With the help of those apps, members get the possibility to discover and use all workspace perks and services. For instance, they can communicate with other coworkers, book meeting rooms and desks, apply and pay for services, use printers, open doors, and more.
Farseeing flexible workspace operators strive to create touchless hi-tech experiences in their locations. This way, they give members exactly what they need in time without the necessity to ask the community manager. Self-service policy frees managers from running all sorts of records and lets to focus on customers' happiness, trainings, networking events, and other activities, which contribute to members' satisfaction and add value to membership.
As you see, entrepreneurs' experience at a coworking space has nothing to do with formal traditional office atmosphere but rather the hospitality of a five-star hotel.
Nothing can inspire more than success stories that once upon a time began in a coworking space:
- Uber — Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp started to solve the taxi cab crisis in San Francisco in a coworking space. Now Uber teams work in more than 50 countries all over the world and this number continues to grow.
- Instagram — Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom developed the app in eight weeks only getting together in a coworking space.
- Indiegogo — The idea to create one of the world’s biggest crowdfunding portals flashed a Wall Street analyst, Danae Ringelmann's mind in a coworking space.
- Wanderfly (2009) — It took Christy Liu together with three daring co-founders a year to bring the project brought out by TripAdviser to life in a coworking space.
- andcards — Working at a coworking space, Igor Dzhebyan & Ross Khanas discovered that coworking spaces are in abundance of creativity but lack in technology. So, they embarked on a journey to bridge that gap. They created andcards, the first coworking space management software focused on members. The platform offers really revolutionary solutions based on primary members' and managers' needs, significantly improving their experience, which facilitates rapid workspace growth.
The price of coworking space membership varies from city to city. In New York, for example, an average price for a hot desk in a coworking space is $500, while in Ukraine roughly $100 per month. The average monthly membership price worldwide is $274 per month, though statistic says that only 53% pay from their own pockets. In most cases, a company covers the expense.
Of course, the price will depend on the amenities and services included—a luxury place in the city center with a shower and a café can be very costly. In addition, just like in any other industry, you may pay a premium for a famous brand. For example, the first coworking space network WeWork is famous for beautiful spaces, useful events, and certainly not for its low prices.
To sum up, coworking spaces are not something new or futuristic anymore. They are comfortable, flexible, and adventurous today's workspaces giving many more opportunities for freedom, flexibility, growth, and happiness. I have shown you a few examples of successful businesses that started in a coworking space. But maybe you have your own thrilling stories? What talents are growing in your space? Maybe you have a better definition of coworking than the ones above?
Speak up! And don't forget to share this article with your friends on socials. I promise to include the best examples and definitions here.