Coworking

Coworking represents an exclusive workplace model that empowers people of different professional backgrounds to work together in a shared space. The concept was conceived in the 1990s as a term for describing computer-collaborated work, after which Citizen Space and the Hat Factory launched as the first coworking centers in the United States (NAIOP Research Foundation 2014). In reality, coworking spaces are more collaborative, enjoyable, and collegial. Although some designs provide private offices, 80% of coworking members prefer open designs (Foertsch 2015). Coworking centers are also different from serviced office in that they operate on a membership model rather than a lease arrangement. Since 2011, the number of coworking spaces has increased by a tremendous scale, enabling more than half a million coworking members to share over 11,000 working spaces worldwide (Deskmag 2015). This figure is expected to rise even higher in the near future, with more professionals opting to work from shared spaces rather than from traditional working spaces. Indeed, the number of shared workspaces is doubling by the year and serving a progressively large community of users, including 30 million independent workers in the US alone (MBO Partners 2015). A growing class of entrepreneurs who operate as solo specialists and run their own ventures along with part-time workers contribute partly to this growth. Academic institutions are also playing a role in the coworking reform by creating on-campus “makerspaces” where students across a variety of disciplines collaborate in pro-active learning environments to facilitate discovery and organic exploration of ideas. Coworking continues to expand to the mainstream, though more emphasis is placed in its corporate world applications when it comes to finances. As work becomes increasingly disconnected from specific geographical locations, the degree of flexibility is increasing and evolution is surpassing revolution in the field of coworking. On a broader point of view, the demand-side drivers of coworking stem from a confluence of societal, demographic, technological, and economic factors including, consumerization, growth of the sharing economy, the rise of a contingent workforce, renewed interest in small business ownership and entrepreneurship, a rift in corporate-employer contracts, opportunities, changing business priorities, and technological advances, among others. The coworking model was originally favored by freelancers, technology, and start-up communities, but now it stands as a potential option for businesses of all sizes, ranging from small start-up companies to global enterprises that prefer locating employees in shared work environments, either provisionally or permanently. A case in point of an early adopter of internal coworking was Coca-Cola which established a 70-workforce space at its Atlanta premises in 2013. The company primarily intended the space to stimulate entrepreneurial behavior and innovation.

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