Coworking has become a buzzword in the past decade, with the idea growing exponentially all over the world, and now taking a firm foothold in the UK. It provides a solution to what used to be an all-or-nothing problem; as a small business owner you had to choose full time office space with all the added expense and long term commitment which goes with it or working at home - either of which offer much in real world peer interaction.
To those who take advantage of coworking spaces like ours at Collabor8te, it’s an idea whose time has come. Technology has finally advanced to a point where coworking spaces are not only possible, but also a shrewd choice for micro businesses and independent professionals. Coworking means you can trade co-workers for co-collaborators and isolation for teamwork.
A natural evolution
Writers and artists have always known about the benefits of shared workspaces. Writers, especially, have been working in cafes and coffee shops almost forever, prompting those establishments to offer free wifi as soon as it became economical.
That in turn attracted freelancers, consultants and anyone else who could work from a laptop. Coffee shops, however, are not the best venues for interaction, and it can get expensive drinking cappuccinos all day.
One of the earliest co-working spaces was created in 2005 in San Fransisco. A man named Brad Neurberg and two others founded a coworking space in their studio and opened it up to the public; anyone could come in and work. It didn't last long, but it paved the way for their next shared workspace venture and the spread of the movement.
One year later, they were just one of around thirty coworking spaces, mostly located in the US.
Taking off in recent years
In March of 2007, coworking became a popular search term on Google and by October, it had its own Wikipedia page. The first coworking space with childcare opened in 2008, and the term “coworking” soon spread across the pond to Europe and the UK. The next year, a book was published on how coworking was revolutionising the workplace in the US, contributing to the growth of the idea.
At the end of 2008, there were 160 coworking facilities worldwide, still concentrated mainly in America, and by the end of 2012, the number had grown to 2000, with shared offices opening up in Germany, Spain, England, Latin America and other countries. Today, there are over 2500 coworking spaces worldwide.
The future of telecommuting
Start-up Britain stats show that a record number of new businesses, over 560,000, have been created in 2014 alone and this trend continuing means that by 2024, micro businesses would account for 1.1 million new UK enterprises. Although not the sole users of coworking spaces, this scale of growth will contribute to future demand.
Flexible working patterns, the rise of the sharing economy and more technological advances expected to emerge in the coming years, ‘work anywhere’ will become the new normal with business owners and employees moving between home, coffee shops and coworking spaces. Watch this (coworking) space because the next few years are going to be very interesting indeed…