Work Theater Favicon

Why are coworking spaces an important part of society?

Evolution of the workspace

We live in a world wherein the workplace is evolving with changing times and norms. In these changing times, there has been a significant rise in digital work habits especially over the last two decades. In the current day, the modern workforce hopes to establish a complementary relationship between their work and personal lives. In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report highlights that ‘telecommuting, coworking spaces, virtual teams, freelancing and online talent platforms are all on the rise, transcending the physical boundaries of the office or factory floor and redefining the boundary between one’s job and private life in the process’. The reasoning behind this trend can be primarily credited to the widespread proliferation of the internet, mobile computers, telephones, flexible time regimes facilitating the corporate world.

Origins and growth of coworking spaces

The need for functional space with the potential to facilitate collaboration and innovation can be traced to a typical participant following the digital work habits such as a ‘coffee shop entrepreneur’ who would previously work out of a home-based office. A consequence of this need for a new kind of workspace resulted in the formation of coworking spaces. The origins of the first coworking space can be traced back to 1999 when a “flexible office space” with the possibility to cancel on short notice was launched by a software company called 42 West 24. However, coworking spaces gained traction and really took off in San Francisco, USA in 2005 when Brad Neuberg, a programmer, hoped to create a space where people with similar values could work individually and yet be part of a community. In fact, the coworking space concept can be referred to as an emerging global phenomenon.

Scholars have defined coworking spaces in a variety of similar ways. Coworking spaces are community-based shared workspaces which provide necessary amenities and operate on values of “collaboration, openness, community, accessibility, creativity and sustainability”. These spaces offer their users (for the most part independently employed, consultants, freelancers, startups or corporate undertakings) access to office infrastructure at affordable prices, flexible working hours and the possibility to associate with different colleagues professionally and socially. Moreover, coworking spaces are conceptualized as a membership-based model to meet the lifestyle demands of the rising workforce- flexibility, community, individuality.

Coworking spaces differ from other shared workspaces mainly in terms of flexibility, short-term rental of desks (per hour, per day, per week, per month or per year), continuously changing social composition and the focus on community. Since 2005, these spaces are proliferating around the world at a rapid pace. Back in 2008, there were just 160 spaces while there are 28,000 plus locations right now. Embracing coworking spaces has proved to increase user morale and therefore, productivity and success of employees in a company. Even tech giants such as Google and Facebook promote innovation and entrepreneurship by investing in corporate coworking spaces.

Coworking spaces have proliferated around us and represent a ‘new model of work’ in a ‘collaborative and sharing’ economy. An economic impact report by WeWork (a major coworking space provider) describes the central role of WeWork in enhancing a sense of community, productivity, accelerating organization growth and savings over commercial real estate.

Research suggests that users of co-working spaces perceive their work as meaningful, have more control over their jobs and feel a sense of belonging within their co-working communities. In an attempt to foster networking, community and collaboration, space operators conceptualize their spaces in an environmentally friendly manner, devise a common area and organize several activities such as events, debates, conferences and technology exhibitions. Therefore, the goals of these work environments are to enhance productivity, innovativeness and collaboration while diminishing costs and environmental impact.

You may also like: Are coworking spaces important to foster innovation?

You'll also like this...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.