Coworking spaces are shared work environments in which individuals working as freelancers or employed by different companies come together in one office space. The popularity of this style of working has seen global growth over the past few years. It fulfills the needs of many organizations, especially new startups and small business ventures. The appeal of coworking spaces is twofold: community and collaboration. During the initial and growth stages of a business, renting or buying private office space is not often realistic. As the popularity of freelancing and startups grew, many people began working from home or from coffee shops. However, working from home can be isolating and coffee shops distracting. For small businesses and startups, coworking became a very advantageous third option.
Besides the obvious advantage of reducing the amount of common office overheads, there are many benefits to belonging to a coworking space. In addition to the cost benefits of coworking spaces, one of the biggest advantages for startups and small businesses results from the sense of community and fellowship between entrepreneurial-types that naturally arises from sharing a workspace. Coworking spaces have the potential to be instant networking stations for like-minded people with different sets of skills but similar goals and career-circumstances. Additionally, these eclectic communities and the short, informal actions they host between individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge-bases can be ideal for sparking new ideas.
Coworking environments generate organically-formed teams in which members look out for each other and help out where they can, often creating new idea collaborations that would be too large or ambitious for the individual businesses in isolation.
Coworking spaces are also appealing to young businesses and freelancers because they provide necessary office facilities and resources and oversee common office hassles such as maintenance and security. Additionally, it is common for them to provide free Wi-Fi, coffee and shared staff members such as receptionists, as well as making available conference rooms in which members can hold business meetings in a professional environment. The location and facilities of coworking spaces are usually of high quality and would otherwise be outside the budget of startups and small businesses if not for their shared nature.
It is part of the coworking culture for spaces to host events such as seminars or talks with different guest speakers. Some events even invite outside guests and allow startups to present their businesses to different groups of people who provide constructive feedback. Oftentimes, these events can provide business owners with unique opportunities to interact directly with potential investors or industry professionals. Social gatherings for networking and general team building are usually integral to the ethos of coworking spaces.
Many well-known coworking spaces develop a reputation of their own based on the success of the businesses they host; conversely, for new startups and small businesses, in such spaces this association can lend them important credibility where they would otherwise be unknown.
Individuals who are the sole employees of their companies, too, still enjoy and benefit of being surrounded by motivated people doing similar work. Many find they work more productively in an environment in which others are also focused and working hard. Coworking spaces also provide flexibility for businesses prone to fluctuations in size because they don’t require the long-term lease commitments that most commercial spaces would.
Commonly, coworking spaces are open twenty-four hours a day, providing flexibility for businesses required to operate in multiple time zones. Graduated pricing is available for membership contracts to suit a range of needs: some businesses only use spaces once a week, some a couple of hours a day while still others are full-time.
The communal style of working that coworking spaces provide holds appeal for young businesses and individuals due to its networking advantages, the sense of fraternity and mutual trust that arises, and the cost-reduction. In this digital age in which the popularity of startups and small businesses is on the rise, coworking spaces provide ideal environments in which these organizations can flourish.