The working world is in a constant state of flux due to technological progress, digitization and Industry 4.0. This has resulted in the development of new fields of work that would have been unimaginable in the last millennium. And new fields of work and new industries require alternative ways of working and new environments. Many freelancers and employees are no longer tied to a specific work location. Alternative models, like working from home or mobile offices, where people can work remotely from cafés or elsewhere, have become a fixture of the modern working world in recent years. This way of working is particularly popular among digital nomads and in creative professions. Specific desks and offices have faded in importance, even though many people continue to want a clear separation between work and leisure. But what is a coworking space? A coworking space is a modern way of sharing workspace, generally at a low cost, while maintaining a clean delineation between work and leisure time. In this article, we will examine more precisely what a coworking space actually is.
Coworking spaces – definition
Coworking by definition is when you share workspace with people from outside the company. As a rule, coworking spaces rent out individual desks – either for a short period of time for specific projects or on an unlimited basis. Startups and freelancers are particularly attracted to this cost-effective alternative to traditional offices, remote work and working from home.
What is a coworking space?
In reality, coworking is more about working side by side than about working with each other. But this distinction is blurring, and that has become a crucial aspect in the success of coworking spaces. Behind the idea of “coworking space” is a very simple principle: Freelancers, employees and founders all want a place to work, but they often can’t afford their own office. In addition, many shy away from the loneliness and potential distractions of working from home. The concept of coworking unites these professional groups in a single space. What looks like an open-space office plan to many is really a melting pot, particularly for people who work in creative industries. The concept: The creation of a community with other people from other sectors can fuel the creation of new ideas. Whether during their lunch break or over an after-work beer, professionals have the chance to talk and create new impetus for their current or future business ideas.
A coworking space - what are the benefits?
The benefits of coworking spaces depend on how they are used. People’s working styles are very individual, meaning that each person must determine for themself whether a coworking space is the right working model or not. A decisive usage factor is price. Committing to one or more office spaces on a long-term basis requires significant financial resources. Startup entrepreneurs generally haven’t found success early on and are rarely able to take the risk of devoting valuable capital to office space. Many instead choose to work from home. But lots of people don’t find that to be an ideal working atmosphere. And for many freelancers, the ability to clearly separate work from leisure time is a decisive factor in their well-being.
Coworking is also a question of temperament or personality. Among proponents, networking and community are often cited as determining factors. Gregarious people in particular can quickly meet new people at coworking spaces and benefit from those meetings both professionally and privately. Most view coworking spaces as a low-cost, temporary solution until they are able to secure their own office.
Advantages of coworking spaces
- Coworking offices offer flexibility in terms of time and ease of use.
- Notice periods are usually short and thus much more practical than with traditional office space.
- Coworking spaces are considerably less expensive than regular office spaces.
- There are few costs related to equipment and furnishings.
- Using a coworking space is more sustainable.
- People from different industries work in a coworking space, but collaborative brainstorming is still possible.
- Regular interactions within the community often help many people move forward.
- Coworking spaces are ideal for expanding networks.
Coworking spaces – their importance for the modern working world
Most coworking spaces define themselves by five core values that represent the essence of coworking:
1. Collaboration: The “we” feeling also extends beyond work.
2. Community: Everyone is a part of the team and helps one another.
3. Sustainability: Shared spaces are good for the environment.
4. Openness: Every person is welcome in the community and may freely express his or her opinion.
5. Accessibility: The workspaces and rooms are usable and accessible at all times.
These values illustrate the importance of coworking spaces in terms of a progressive and modern way of working. For many, coworking is a work lifestyle that thrives on ideas and exchange. This allows the work environment to become a learning environment. Young people in particular can gain important life experiences in coworking spaces and successfully drive their own business forward. In addition, most coworking spaces host events, workshops and meetup groups. The rental periods are also extremely flexible, so anyone can use them for a few weeks or months at a time.
How it all began – the history of coworking
The history of coworking isn’t yet particularly long. The term first appeared in 2005, when entrepreneur Brad Neuburg launched the San Francisco Coworking Space. For two days a week, the office opened its doors allowing outsiders to work there. In the 1990s, Hacker Spaces also entered the scene, with computer specialists working side by side, helping each other with problems and sharing skills. Among freelancers in particular, working in a coworking space has become increasingly popular. Those needing only a laptop and mobile phone to complete their work are able to freely choose an office space and get started. Coworking spaces are mostly found in large cities because, on the one hand, a larger startup and freelancer scene can be found there and, on the other, rental prices for office space tend to be quite a bit higher.
The importance of coworking worldwide
The growth of coworking spaces in Asia has been more marked than in Europe or the United States. Countries like India, Taiwan, China and Singapore are experiencing increasing growth in tech companies but tend to have limited supplies of office space. Meanwhile, even in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris or Berlin, affordable office space is becoming increasingly rare. As such, the number of coworkers and coworking spaces is also rising in Germany. Thanks to the internet and cloud systems, the classic understanding of a “normal workspace” is becoming blurred. In addition, there are also many more professions that can only be performed digitally. Coworking spaces are a response to the changing world of work and are gaining importance.
What coworking spaces look like
In the early 2000s, coworking spaces tended to resemble living rooms. These days, though, an appealing and aesthetic fusion of office and café has gained in popularity. This frequently chosen look probably has its origin back in the days when people would go to a café and do their work using a laptop. The main area of coworking spaces usually consists of a large open space with ample desks and a small bar with seating. The flexible workstations on offer are referred to as “hot desks,” meaning workspaces that are reassigned on a daily basis. As such, it generally isn’t possible to keep personal belongings at such desks. However, coworking spaces also tend to offer dedicated desks as well, which can be rented for a few months at a time. This model makes it possible to set up and customize the workspace to meet your own needs.
Coworking spaces usually offer closed meeting spaces as well, which generally include a projector, flipcharts and a whiteboard and are available for undisturbed discussions or for lectures and presentations as needed. There also tend to be small booths where phone calls can be made in peace and quiet. Some coworking spaces even offer lockers for the safe storage of personal belongings. It should be noted: There are also coworking spaces for small teams that can be rented flexibly for short periods of time.
The furnishing of coworking spaces
Standard setups for coworking spaces include:
- Open spaces with dedicated and hot desks
- Meeting rooms for presentations and customer meetings
- Telephone booths for undisturbed phone calls
- Lockers for storage of personal belongings
- A café, bar and kitchen for your well-being
- Community areas for social and professional exchanges
- Printing and scanning capabilities
- Office space for small teams
In addition to such standardized coworking spaces, there has also been a recent rise is spaces for specific fields of work. You can even find coworking spaces for skilled trades that are equipped with workbenches, saws and drills. At maker spaces, 3D printers are also becoming increasingly popular. The decisive advantage is obvious: A young company can avoid acquisition costs as it seeks to launch a prototype or beta version.
Fee schedules and subscription costs depend on the provider. Some coworking spaces offer fees for daily usage, while others offer a flexible membership system. At Office Club, for example, subscriptions are available that can be upgraded with additional bookable services.
Who uses coworking spaces?
Coworking spaces are an especially attractive alternative for freelancers who would otherwise work from home. Mobile phones and powerful laptops mean that a fixed desk is no longer a necessity. Anyone who can develop their business idea digitally can also work independently of location and does not need a set office. As such, coworking spaces are particularly attractive for freelancers in the tech and media sectors.
Coworking is also vital for digital nomads. They rarely stay in one set place because they are constantly traveling around the world. They do their work wherever internet access is available. Many digital nomads use coworking spaces as temporary home bases.
Coworking has proven to be useful for a growing number of startups. In the founding period, particularly, it is entirely unclear what kind of growth the company will experience. Classic office constellations don’t make sense in such a situation because it is unclear how much space will actually be required. Instagram and Uber are well-known giants whose work began as startups in coworking spaces. But larger companies are also discovering the benefits of shared workspaces. Individual teams or departments can work outside the normal office to create a more flexible working environment or for cost savings. Specifically, costs can be reduced in terms of the management of the premises (e.g., cleaning and maintenance). Companies are also frequently eager to benefit from the creativity of others around them.
Summary: What is a coworking space?
New demands and requirements for the future workplace are emerging for both employers and employees. In particular, companies want to be able to respond more flexibly to changes in the market. Long-term leases and non-adaptable office spaces tend to be inflexible. The fixed office space is becoming increasingly less important. Modern workers prefer to determine their own schedules and have the ability to work remotely, without being tied to particular locations. The ever-growing number of freelancers and the self-employed is evidence of this trend. But there is much to suggest that coworking is much more than just a fleeting phenomenon. In the face of rising rents and increased cost structures overall, it also appears to be emerging as an established office concept. At Office Club, we place the emphasis on flexible working. No matter if you are a startup or a freelancer, if you need a flexible desk or your own office space, it is our aim to provide each of our members with the best possible working experience in our locations. Would you like to test coworking yourself? We also offer short-term rentals that allow everyone to test out this form of working for themselves.