Coworking as a work style emerged in San Francisco in 2005, designed to address the challenges of independent workers who lacked interaction with professional and social networks, and – in particular – work-life balance.
Since then, the work trend has exploded, with growth in coworking space numbers almost doubling each year. Today, there are more than 2,300 spaces in operation, up from zero a few short years ago. This incredible growth has made coworking the fastest growing work trend this decade, and extensive research suggests that coworking spaces have become the most productive places to work, over the home and traditional office environments.
What is a Coworking Space?
Coworking spaces are new workspaces that allow independent and mobile professionals to work alongside one another, but on their own projects. They aim to address the problems and short-comings of other working environments, namely the difficulty in brushing up on skills, making new and diverse business contacts, and remaining innovative and creative.
For this reason, coworking spaces are particularly popular with independent professionals in the creative industries (including tech, marketing and PR, journalism and consultancy fields). While the experience of all coworkers – and coworking spaces themselves – varies greatly, there is extensive research demonstrating the clear advantages of using a coworking space over a standard office.
According to global research by Deskmag and Deskwanted, since working in a coworking space:
- 74% of coworkers are more productive,
- 86% have a larger business network,
- 93% have a bigger social network,
- Over two thirds feel more creative and collaborate more on projects
- A third reported an increase in income.
These compelling statistics alone suggest that there is clout to coworking, and the work trend will continue its steady growth. In addition, 54% of coworkers are freelancers, meaning there is no shortage in demand: while many freelancers already choose to work in collaborative workspaces, the majority of this work demographic is yet to catch on.
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Coworking and Your Business
The remaining 46% of coworkers who are not independent workers are also becoming more mobile, with many medium and large companies increasingly allowing their employees to work remotely. While teleworking – that is, working from a home office – is one option, these enterprises are including coworking spaces as a part of their business plans, recognizing that exposing their staff to new ideas and creative work environments creates more value for their business, most notably in regards to productivity.
There is data supporting these companies’ decision: according to a report on workspace by Emergent Research, which surveyed thousands of coworkers across the US, people working in these collaborative workspaces are more productive than in any other workplace.
Corporate giants, such as Google, Zappos, and a number of national banks in Australia and US, are sending their employees to work in these collaborative work environments, and are even investing in their own; the most notable example being Google Campus in London.
The profile of coworking spaces, thanks to their potential to improve and grow business, is therefore rising; as more use these types of work spaces, the industries that are represented within their membership will certainly swell, and further consolidate the benefits experienced by so many already.
Bio: Anna Cashman, market research and communications person for Deskwanted.com, the largest coworking-focused directory online. Deskwanted allows anyone to search, book and list a desk on its site. It also provides more information on coworking and real-person, tailored advice for anyone with questions on the industry.