The Growth of Coworking
Coworking has taken off in the recent years as a work trend and an alternative to traditional offices. Studies say there will be more than 19,000 coworking spaces worldwide in the coming months. Each day, more and more professionals are joining the movement and it is estimated that 1.7 million people will be using coworking spaces by the end of 2018.
But, what is so special about coworking that thousands of freelancers, remote workers and companies worldwide are ditching their home offices and private workspaces to build their business from a shared space?
Coworking offers many advantages that have proven to help companies and individual professionals grow. Here we answer some of the most important questions about coworking and the future of workspaces.
What is Coworking?
Coworking means sharing a space with other professionals even if they do not work in the same industry or for the same company.
Coworking spaces are usually membership-based workspaces where freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal environment, whether it is on a full-time basis or just occasionally.
However, coworking is not only about sharing a physical space to get your work done. Most professionals using a coworking space enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie that comes along with working in the same place and meeting new people.
The benefits of coworking are plentiful, from flexibility and reducing the monthly spending of your business to increasing your productivity and building professional relations. Here are the five top benefits of coworking.
What are the benefits of coworking?
The Community Aspect
If you talk to any remote worker who has a home office they’ll tell you it gets really lonely sometimes. Those who have the opportunity to work from home often enjoy many benefits, such as a flexible schedule, autonomy over their work and a better shot at work/life balance, but often miss the human contact that comes with working from a traditional office or even using a shared workspace.
Coworking is a great solution to this issue. Joining a coworking space even on a part-time basis gives remote workers the opportunity to connect with others, increasing happiness and productivity.
Creativity and Productivity
Many workers report that one of the most appealing aspects of coworking is their creative environment. Coworkers can encounter professionals in diverse industries, and chances are a lot of them share similar interests and values: entrepreneurship, collaboration, mobility.
Moreover, when surrounded by like-minded professionals, most peoplefeel more productive, energized and engaged with their work.
Being part of a coworking community naturally brings a lot of connections. You won’t need to go far to network with local professionals and business owners, as coworking spaces often offer in-house events for members.
It is also very common for freelancers in the coworking scene to get gigs from fellow coworkers or for startups to strike up partnership opportunities with other companies who work out of the same location.
Lower Costs and Flexibility
The cost of a desk at a coworking space or a private office within a coworking space is much lower than renting, staffing and operating a traditional office, making it a viable option for startups and small businesses.
To put things in perspective, consider that coworking spaces located in primer real estate space in cities such as New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles offer monthly memberships from $300-$600 per desk.
If a company has 10 employees based at a space, they will be paying around $6000 per month, a fraction of the cost of operating an office space on Boylston Street in Boston or the Loop in Chicago.
Additionally, many coworking spaces offer flexible leases, which makes signing up on a month-to-month basis easy. This minimizes the amount of time users are committed to a space and creates opportunities to grow or move a business.
All-Inclusive Services and Perks
When paying for a coworking membership, users don’t need to worry about utilities, printing costs, coffee and other spending that usually comes with operating out of a private office.
For example, at Workbar, a coworking membership includes services such as fast wifi, unlimited coffee, beer, fruit and snacks, printer, scanner and office supplies, and access to a digital platform where members can connect with each other.
Also, a coworking membership usually comes with discounts in local business such as gyms, coffee shops and various online services.
Who Is Coworking For?
Coworking for Individuals
Coworking is very popular among freelancers, small business owners and early-stage startups founders. These professionals benefit from having a business environment to meet with clients, as well as access to conference rooms and other functional spaces without having to front the cost of a private office.
Also, the flexibility allows users to expand or terminate their memberships as needed. If their business is growing steadily and they need to move to a larger space, they can do so immediately instead to being tied to a yearly lease.
While many full-time freelancers and independent entrepreneurs operate from coworking spaces, shared workspaces have diversified in the recent times, and those joining this trend come from a variety of industries and companies.
Coworking for Large Companies
Today an increasing number of large companies are asking employees to work at coworking spaces or at least offering them the option to work from a remote shared workspace on a part-time or full-time basis.
Fortune 500 tech companies such as IBM and Microsoft have even placed employees around the country into coworking spaces as a move to support innovation and employee satisfaction as well as reduce real estate costs.
Coworking spaces also often times offer plans for private office spaces as well. This tends to be a popular option for startups and smaller groups that don't want to spend the money on costly leases, but need access to private spaces to work out of. Organizations with larger groups typically see a great deal of value in blended memberships that offer both private office spaces as well as open-space desks, giving team members the ability to work in the environments they are most productive in.
Where is Coworking Popular?
Global Coworking Spaces
The coworking industry has grown significantly in the past five years and most hubs in the United States have multiple coworking spaces, with the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego, Seattle and Washington DC offering the most options. But coworking is a global trend that is changing the way people work from Rio de Janeiro to Prague and from London to Dubai.
Currently, coworking spaces are operating in more than 100 countries around the world, and the industry is estimated to grow exponentially in the next decade. Germany is one of the European countries that has experienced a real coworking boom, with hundreds of coworking spaces offering memberships in cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
Australia offers another example of how coworking has evolved in the past few years. With a steady growth in technology and innovation, Sydney is now another hub for coworking. The city has more than 60 coworking spaces in various neighborhoods that cater to diverse professionals.
From hot desks available by the hour to long-term memberships for larger teams, there are options out there suited for most work styles and needs.
Coworking Spaces in Boston
Home to some of the best universities in the world and as one of the largest hubs for the tech and innovation scene, Boston is a city where entrepreneurs are always looking for a space to freelance, found their startup or run their personal business.
It is estimated that there are around 40 coworking spaces in Boston, from large buildings to smaller cafe-style spaces.
Workbar is one of the first network of coworking spaces to operate in Boston. One aspect that separates Workbar from other coworking spaces is that its members have access to all 8 Workbar locations, helping avoid unnecessary commutes and offering more networking opportunities.
With urban locations in the heart of downtown Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, and suburban locations in Arlington, Brighton, Danvers and Norwood, Workbar offers coworking spaces with a regional approach, designed to offer workers full office amenities at a reasonable price in a convenient location.
The Bottom Line
Coworking is an innovative trend that is disrupting the commercial real estate industry and changing the way people view traditional workspaces. It is a great option for those who need their workspace to adjust to their professional goals and lifestyle, and not vice versa. Coworking spaces offer entrepreneurs and companies flexibility, networking opportunities and a creative environment to work from.