What is Coworking? Everything you need to know (2021)
What is coworking you ask? You’re not the first to ask that question so we’ll answer it for you. We will discuss the history of coworking, various examples of different approaches to the rising phenomenon, and some pretty outstanding facts on the matter.
If the current covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything about the world of work, it’s that employees’ flexibility is going to be here to stay. Employers will be offering remote working as standard to current and prospective employees. This, in turn, gives them greater choice, and access to a much larger pool of talent.
A common misconception is that remote working means working from the confinement of your own four walls. When in fact it simply allows workers to choose where they want to call the office.
Coworking space’s popularity is on the rise. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and start-ups consistently choose dedicated coworking space over working from home. We have responded to this at Hubflow, by opening 2 new spaces in Belfast.
Whether you’re serious about finding this type of office space or still undecided about whether it’s right for you, read on and we can answer your questions.
So what is Coworking?
In a nutshell, coworking is when a variety of individuals and businesses share the same workspace.
Often, a dedicated coworking space will consist of a large common area, filled with desks and seating. Different people and businesses will all work on their own projects under the same shared roof.
Coworking spaces also provide shared amenities, such as meeting rooms and kitchen facilities. Some also offer private, enclosed office spaces that businesses can hire out for their own use.
History of coworking
Coworking, as we know it today, originated in or around 2005. This was when Brad Neuberg coined the term to describe a physical space where workers came together to collaborate. This led to the opening of the first ‘official’ coworking space, situated in the San Francisco area in 2006. ‘Citizen Space’, which is now closed, opened the doors to a totally new way of working.
Yet the phrase “coworking” dates back as far as 1995. It was used as a way to identify a method that would facilitate collaborative work and business meetings coordinated by computers.
In 2007, there were a total of 75 coworking spaces operating around the world. Fast-forward to 2021, and there’s a whopping 19,000! You see the trend, right?
Why is coworking so popular?
Among sole-traders, entrepreneurs and start-ups, coworking has boomed for many reasons.
It can be said that it is a stepping stone after starting your business from home. It can offer benefits you wouldn’t get at home or in your local coffee shop. For example, you might decide you’d like:
- A business address and a professional setting in which to meet with clients
- A designated place for your employees (whether you’re hiring now or plan to in the future) to work together
- More distance between your work life and your home life, meaning you can be more productive whilest at work and switch off when you leave. Read more about the psychology of this here.
- More face-to-face contact with peers, and a sense of community with fellow entrepreneurs
But what makes coworking a better next step than, for example, getting your own traditional office?
Well, it’s cheaper – and much more flexible – than leasing your own office. It is clear that it provides an excellent alternative while you’re still establishing and growing your business.
Monthly payments also cost much less than rental payments for a private office. As well as this, the terms in a coworking space are often much more flexible than those in a commercial lease.
While the latter will tend to lock you into business premises for at least three-five years. The former will usually ask for a minimum of just one month, and will only need a month’s notice if you decide to leave.
What are the benefits of coworking?
We’ve explored the key reasons that you might choose to work in a coworking space. Yet, alongside these factors, they offer a range of other perks designed to make running your business easier. These include…
Access to business-crucial amenities
Coworking office spaces tend to provide everything you need to run a business smoothly, including:
- Superfast wifi
- Equipment such as printers and scanners
- Meeting compartments and conference rooms
The potential to save on daily costs
Many coworking spaces offer complimentary amenities such as kitchen facilities, coffee and tea. This means you can save on the cost of buying them yourself.
Opportunities to network and collaborate
In a coworking space, you’ll likely be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are developing their own business. This opens the doors for networking and collaboration, such as swapping advice.
Many of these spaces encourage these networks by organising networking events and workshops for members.
Modern and stimulating working environments
Unlike traditional office blocks, lots of coworking spaces put design and atmosphere at the forefront. Many house sleek, modern, colourful and quirky decor. Thus, making for a more stimulating and enjoyable workspace environment.
Larger facilities also tend to house cafes or lounges in which you can work if sitting at a desk isn’t quite your thing.
Different approaches to coworking
Coworking spaces are as diverse as they are abundant. All of them differentiate in that they offer something new and unique. At Hubflow, we have designed our space to symbolise innovation, connectedness and progression.
However, other spaces have incorporated Victorian, rustic interiors that still shout “We’re contemporary!”. Take a look at the Ministry of Sound’s Coworking Club based in London.
Here’s possibly one of the most unique spaces we’ve seen, and it’s Naplab – Bangkok’s premier coworking space. The people at NapLab have created a unique balance between work, rest and play. Essentially, what makes them unique is the ability to hire an individual sleeping pod, allowing you to sleep on the job. Count me in!
The truth is, the diversity of coworking spaces is part of its beauty. It’s all really down to personal taste and where members can see themselves excelling most. Successful spaces design their offices with their target market in mind!