What comes to your mind when you think about a coworking/shared/flexible workspace? Of course, co-working is about sharing infrastructure and cost but it's also about belonging to a community, creativity, fun, flexibility, accessibility, and sustainability.
Co-working 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 and remote workers 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 a coworking space:
Coworking spaces are defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting. — hbr.org
In the simplest sense, coworking space is an environment that’s designed to accommodate people from different companies who come to do work. These workspaces are characterized by shared facilities, services, and tools. Coworking spaces are community centers, collaboration hubs, and social spaces where workers from different backgrounds can come together to share expertise and explore new ideas. — wework.com
Coworking spaces offer their members a variety of amenities like shared workstations in an open-plan ‘office’ environment, private desk space, ‘hot-desking’ options, private offices, and meeting rooms. They are community-oriented and work on a flexible pay-as-you-go membership model. Coworkers typically pay a monthly club membership or subscription fee which includes access to the hub, a hotdesk, internet & meeting rooms. — andcards.com
The first mention of the word "coworking space" as a shared office space 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 called the “San Francisco Coworking Space” and was open on Mondays and Tuesdays only.
The work environment 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 2.1.%. According to Statista, there are currently around 19, 000 coworking spaces around the globe. The number is growing daily and is expected to reach nearly 26,000 by 2025. There are currently 3.1 million coworkers in the world and the number is forecasted to nearly double by 2022 as reported by GCUC.
You surely noticed that coworking is sometimes spelled as co-working, which is rather confusing, especially if you are new to the industry. The roots of such dual spelling go to Associated Press Stylebook, which is a popular reference resource for many writers and editors all over the globe. Till recently it spelled coworking with a hyphen but in May 2018 AP Stylebook changed co-working to coworking, officially dropping the hyphen.
Currently, by adding the hyphen to the term, you change its meaning. It turns into “co-working,” which means working in the same shared office space with other employees from the same company. The difference is quite distinct.
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 is worth to consider because it 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 and small teams 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, conference rooms, kitchens, free coffee, and 24 access.
Coworking businesses strive to open locations in the areas close to transportation hubs, coffee shops, 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.
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 Wi-Fi 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 space 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.
Common areas at coworking spaces are the better alternative for freelancers feeling too isolated working from the home office or a coffee shop. On top of that, coworking space is a place where they can meet smart business people operating all sorts of ventures, so they can make friends with them, find potential clients and partners.
Employees that are remote from headquarters, distributed workers, and partially remote workers (that are allowed to work away from the office a few days a week) find all required amenities to stay productive at a shared workspace. They can use hot or dedicated desks, get some peace and quiet in a private space, book a small meeting room or use a skype room or phone booth to receive a call.
Larger organizations also take their benefits from the coworking environment. 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.
Big corporations have many reasons to prefer flexible workspaces instead of traditional offices.
Enterprises usually opt for larger private offices with custom branding or technology-boosted super flex offices for those using a hybrid workforce.
Additionally, many coworking spaces organize yoga and meditation classes as well as various wellness activities that help members (company employees) 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 size and location, 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:
The 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 space 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. A self-service policy frees managers from running all sorts of records and lets to focus on customers' happiness, fun 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 a formal traditional office atmosphere but rather the hospitality of a five-star hotel.
There are plenty of reasons why entrepreneurs choose coworking spaces. I will recap just a few major benefits that make residents thrive.
Almost 90% of coworkers report that they are happier since joining a coworking space and more than half (55%) strongly feel that they are part of a community.
On average, coworkers interact with 1 to 4 members per day, and 83% report that they feel less lonely since becoming part of a coworking space. — comparecamp.com
Nothing can inspire more than a success story that once upon a time began at a coworking space:
The price of coworking space membership varies from city to city. In New York, for example, an average price for a hot desk at 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 its beautiful spaces, useful events, and certainly not for low prices.
To sum up, the coworking movement is not something new or futuristic anymore. Today's workspaces are comfortable, flexible, and adventurous. They give residents many more opportunities for freedom, flexibility, growth, and happiness.
Are you looking for advice on starting a coworking business? Read this article: How to Start a Coworking Space: Experts' Advice to Avoid Costly Mistakes.