What is coworking?
Co-working is a modern working practice that particularly appeals to freelancers, start-ups, micro-businesses. Co-workers rent a desk, have access to high-speed internet and share office facilities with other like-minded people. Co-working is especially popular with self-starters, people who are used to working independently but cherish the company of others who they can bounce ideas off. The first co-working space was set up in San Fransisco, by a group of people who were searching for better ways of bringing tech entrepreneurs together. It was such a unique idea that the organisers initially struggled to fill the space. Since then co-working has really caught on, spaces can be found all over the world as far apart as Delhi, Berlin and Manchester.
Contrast co-working with the traditional office space which has a reputation for being inflexible and conservative. However, corporates are coming around to the idea, bringing elements of co-working such as hot desking into the office environment, as well as using co-working space themselves for mobile employees and small project teams.
How does coworking work?
Co-working is a simple idea, rather than holding out to rent office space to a single company, space is filled by individual businesses and small teams. Collaboration, shared visions and a sense of community are all features of co-working. For freelancers and the like, who are used to working from home, there is guaranteed fast internet, professional office facilities and networking opportunities with like-minded people. While traditional office space is let in terms of years, co-working space can be rented much more flexibly. It is not uncommon for people to rent a desk for 2 or 3 days a week and contracts are monthly or even weekly.
What are the benefits of coworking?
It took tech entrepreneurs a while to realise the benefits of co-working but since then the industry hasn’t look back. Co-workers benefit from:
- Short-term contracts giving co-workers the flexibility that is required in today’s agile business environment.
- A sense of community and belonging. People identify with the style of working which is very different from the typical 9 to 5.
- An enjoyable place to work, which is part of the ethos of the co-working movement.
- Professional address and facilities such as meeting rooms and high-speed internet which is vital in today’s connected world.
- Fashionably designed spaces that create an innovative atmosphere, stimulating ideas and forging business connections.
- For some spaces, the selling point is the ability to make noise without annoying the neighbours. Musicians, metal workers and other hands-on trades appreciate this.
- Ability to attract talent, people with creative skills are particularly drawn to the relaxed atmosphere and freedom to be their own boss.
Technology and coworking
A lot of the new software that is produced today has an element of sharing and collaboration in the cloud. Google’s Chromebook accesses everything in the cloud making fast internet connections an absolute must. Cloud technology fits well with the ethos of the co-working environment, the ability to bounce ideas off one another and work on joint projects even if you are on opposite sides of the world. Technology has enabled freelancers in countries with a lower cost of living to offer services at incredibly competitive rates.
According to Coworking Mag, this year will see a bigger focus on technology. Access cards, booking software, automated invoices and other efficiency saving apps mean that coworkers can do more with less without having to rely on other people.
Multi-location spaces. People are increasingly choosing co-working space with alternative locations throughout a city, giving them the ability to work from the place that suits them best at the time.
Office managers that target specific industry sectors will continue to grow in popularity. For example, spaces that are for women in tech only look to address the imbalance of male-dominated tech firms. Other skill-specific spaces that target people such as software developers, writers or artists all promote a greater sense of shared community.
As operators compete for their spaces to be filled they are spending more time and money in making spaces more appealing to work in. Whether that is down to the design, furniture or organised networking and skill sharing events.
Should I join a coworking space?
If you are sitting at home pining for some company with all of the household chores competing for your attention then coworking could be the answer. Its flexible nature and shared spirit bring people together in ways that weren’t possible 20 years ago. Likewise, if you have a small project team yearning for some creative inspiration, then sharing with people who are used to brainstorming and developing new ideas would benefit them hugely. The rise of the gig economy, especially within the tech industry has opened up co-working to a whole new audience. The growth of contract roles specialising in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics all lend themselves towards co-working space as the best place to work from.