Coworking - It’s not new, and it may be for you
By Lisa Akinseye
The world of work is evolving, and the vision of the future workplace is morphing itself day by day as more coworking spaces pop up literally every day around the world.
While some workers may thrive behind a traditional desk and credenza or in a cubicle, there are hundreds of millions of gainfully employed people just aching for more camaraderie and the chance to collaborate with others, not only in their industry, but in business areas outside of their areas of expertise.
Enter the eclectic world of coworking, where one space may cater to a niche industry, and a neighboring space may seek to have members from 30+ areas, so that members can readily barter products and services. While there are networks with five or more corporate-like business office/coworking spaces, the reality is that most are independently owned, and each has it’s own intentional vibe.
Choosing the right space
Typically, a visit is all it takes to seal the deal. The freebie day gives potential members are given the opportunity to mingle with peers and get a sense of how coworking can amp up productivity, as compared to working form home or “floating spaces” like libraries, coffee shops or behind the wheel of a car while idling, that coworking is incredibly appealing.
This makes it critical that to visit a space for a day, and essentially do a “personality check”. Many coworking spaces actually encourage a trial run by offering a free day to locals. It also gives the space owner, “community curator”, “hospitality manager”, “space catalyst” or “visionary team member” a chance to offer suggestions about other local spaces, should the guest discover the space isn’t the best fit for them. There’s no reason to be competitive with other sites, as membership only works when it’s a good fit.
Cat Johnson, by nature a content marketer, also has a blog and writes freelance articles on curated coworking spaces, offered up 13 tips on what to look for when shopping out a coworking community:
- Community feel
- Noise levels
- Event offerings (and features/perks)
- Seating options
- Buzz/collective energy
- Meeting rooms
- Phone booths/private convo area
- Community curator/champion
- Location (free parking, walkable, bikeable)
- Coffee (and tea or treats)
Given that nearly 40% of the US population is expected to have some form of self-employment by 2025, whether through a hobby job, a part-time micro-enterprise, or commitment to being a full-time consultant or innovator, coworking is an affordable way to allow a business to grow.
Here are a few more interesting tidbits form Deskmag’s 2017 coworking forecast:
An average of 129 members per space
In the survey, 73% stated that they had more leisure time due to increased productivity
There should be 14,000 coworking spaces by the end of the year.
For this reason, 2 out of 3 expect to expand their spaces by 2018
These spaces are approaching 1.2 million coworking members worldwide
Around 40% anticipate utilizing their coworking space every workday, and 30% will use it 3-4 days a week
The innovation of coworking is said to have been started by a software company in New York City in 1999, when 42 West 24 was formed to offer short-term space to tech teams whose contracts could be cancelled with short notice.
The movement spread quickly to Europe, and many old factories were revamped into independent working spaces where people worked together. Many spaces focused on entrepreneurial efforts, and offset expenses further by renting out vast open areas as community space evenings and weekends.
The first unnamed, yet “official” coworking space in the US was conceived bas a nonprofit co-op in 2005, and offered part-time desking with WiFi and shared lunches, in response to a dissatisfaction of working in more formal business centers or from home. While it only survived a brief time, it was replaced by the Hat Factory in 2006. By 2012, there were over 2,000 coworking spaces worldwide, and #coworking was created on Twitter (Source:Topsy). Proudly, the 3,000th coworking space opened July 2017, and there are an expected 25,000 spaces to be opened by 2025.