Coworking is Changing the How the World Works
The smell of freshly made coffee, the squeak of a leather office chair, the soft clacking of keyboards, it’s just another day at work, but not quite. It may be a building full of office workers and look like any modern startup office, but it’s not. It’s a Coworking space.
With the increasing number of remote workers, having a space to work at that’s not a coffee shop or a home office is a must. Employees that worked from home used to be the unicorns of office workers, the lucky few that had the privilege of working from home. But that’s all changing.
The Rise of the Remote Worker
The number of at work at home employees has skyrocketed in the last 15 years, growing 140% since 2005. The two biggest industries? Technology and Customer Service.
Over 30% of tech jobs in San Francisco are remote, and in a city with one of the highest costs of living in the US, it’s a perk that helps attract top candidates. Retention rates rise almost 10% when companies embrace remote work.
The numbers are even higher for startups, who outsource a majority of their work. 56% of startup freelancers work remotely.
It’s predicted that 50% of all office positions will be remote by 2025.
What is Coworking
Coworking is a term that refers to physical office space that houses groups of remote workers and the community built between members. It allows employees that would otherwise be working from home, coffee shops, or libraries rent space in a dedicated office environment.
Coworking spaces come in a variety of sizes and layouts, some may be more traditional with cubicles and offices, while others favor a more casual coffee house vibe. They provide basic amenities, such as high-speed wifi, coffee, and snacks. More unique spaces even offer rooftop decks and in some tropical locations even have pools. Most are open 24/7 to accommodate all schedules.
The History of Coworking
Coworking got its start in San Francisco in 2005, when entrepreneur Brad Neuberg had an idea to “to combine the independence of freelancing with the structure and community of an office space.” He also created the term “Coworking” without a hyphen to describe his vision.
Coworking became popular in Asia Pacific during the early 2010s when office space was a premium. Companies realized they could save on brick & mortar costs by allowing employees to work from remote locations.
However, with most families living in small apartments in already busy cities, finding a quiet space to work was difficult. According to research firm JLL, “flexible workspace in Asia-Pacific, including both serviced offices and coworking, surged 150% from 2014 to 2017.”
Why People Choose Coworking
While working from home sounds like a dream, research shows isolation and lack of human interaction is a real fear of remote employees. Coworking helps to relieve that fear by creating space for a community without the pressure of having to arrive at a workplace every day.
We interviewed several remote workers that frequent a Coworking space at least twice a week. Their responses highlight both the community and efficiency aspects of working somewhere outside of the home.
Natasha Willis, a remote health coach, works for a large company where 100% of their coaches work remotely. She chooses to work at a Coworking space instead of her home, going in almost everyday. ”Community times two, coffee, family dinners, field trips, great people, and perfect location.”
Natasha’s coworking space, Bunker, located in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, is dedicated to work and play equally. The two owners, David Leal and Gabo F.C., organize monthly trips to unique destinations from ruins to beaches. Even when not in the office, members of Bunker stay connected through a WhatsApp chat, where movie dates, dinner plans, and other events are planned weekly. The members of the coworking space routinely refer to themselves as a “family” and share not only a workspace but also their lives with each other.
When asked why they started Bunker, Gabo reiterated the need for community. “David and I decided to start Bunker because we thought that work at home was boring, we wanted to have a place for us and also for other people who want a place where they feel comfortable and happy when they are working. We never imagined the place as it is right now, I mean, the people become more like family than clients.”
Jessica, another faithful client of Bunker, sites the ability to focus and get work done as a primary benefit of coworking. “Coworking spaces like Bunker have greatly improved my productivity. I get to be apart of a community of intelligent, fun people.”
Coworking spaces continue to thrive because even remote workers need community. The act of being around like-minded people helps to foster creativity and productivity.
It also saves employers money, because instead of investing in physical buildings for their employees, companies can pass the cost of Coworking Spaces onto their workers.
2020 will be the year of the Coworking Space, with large companies such as Verizon and IBM moving more employees into remote spaces.