If you’re a real estate investor, start-up or hipster tech-type, you’d be forced to hang your head in shame if you dared to reply to this question with anything other than a resounding “yes!”. Yet, for the rest of the world, co-working is still a relatively new concept which bears significantly more weight than simply being surrounded by your colleagues.
Co-working is a revolutionary shift in the world of work; the amount of space dedicated to co-working has doubled worldwide year-on-year since 2006. Demand already outstrips supply by a factor of 3:1 and over 65 million small businesses are expected to join by 2020. So, which key elements define a co-working space?
- It’s a ‘new age’ form of office space
Co-working spaces are, essentially, office space. In its most simple form, co-working involves a shared work environment where small to medium sized businesses can have desk or office space, access to meeting rooms and business services such as high speed internet, printing, photocopying and video conferencing.
- It nurtures collaboration
Co-working is a social way of working which enables ease of collaboration. Co-workers are usually provided with various platforms for collaboration, whether it’s discovering fellow co-workers through an online network or meeting one another in a space designed for socialising. Many co-working spaces invest heavily in technology enabled networking systems for members to track down others in a similar field or industry and talk to them directly through the website or app. Most co-working spaces also have break-out zones to relax, eat, drink and play games.
- It curates a community
Co-working spaces are often judged by potential members on their events calendar. A hefty sum of networking events, social events and wellness events is the perfect concoction for curating a co-working community. Getting members with shared interests to talk to one another on a recurring basis is the most popular way to curate a community.
- It fosters connection and partnerships
You will hear of many spaces having ‘Community Managers’. Quite often you can measure the impact of successful community management and growth through the number of introductions made within the space. You can then see how effective the introduction is by tracking how many members gain new clients, or alternatively form new partnerships as a result of the introduction.
- It’s specifically designed to enhance productivity
Take Our Space as an example. It’s a strikingly natural workspace with water features and live plants growing from the walls and ceilings. If the decor itself isn’t enough to make you feel like you’re on a film set or health retreat. These features are scientifically proven to boost wellness and productivity so that entrepreneurs may effectively focus on their business.
- It helps businesses to grow fast and builds confidence for entrepreneurs
Co-working is perfect for SMEs, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, startups and any forward thinking 21st century worker. A recent study also showed other unexpected benefits, such as an increase in creativity, improved focus and an improved standard of work. Interestingly, 90% of co-workers in the study reported increased self-confidence, showing the value of a community and the learning opportunities which co-working can bring.
- It has roots in San Francisco and is turning into a worldwide phenomena
The term co-working was coined by Brad Neuberg in 2005 when he set up the Hat Factory in San Francisco with just three technology workers. The concept gained traction with nomadic entrepreneurs working out of coffee shops and solopreneurs working from home and feeling isolated, and many more co-working sites opened in North America. It is now popular in Europe, Australia and Asia too, and brands are developing to offer small businesses an alternative to working from home and big businesses a cost-effective alternative to the traditional office.
- It typically engages the workforce through various types of membership
Depending on your businesses’ needs you can choose from a variety of membership types. Many include the option of a virtual office for remote workers who need the basics of an office address and the odd meeting room. Freelancers and small companies benefit from hot-desks and permanent desks, often situated in communal areas. Larger companies then tend to go for the private office space, but this is not limited and can typically range from 1 person to 50 people depending on the co-working company.
So, now you know what a typical co-working space involves, would you give it a go yourself? Why not check out the first of 50 Our Space sites set to launch in 12 gateway cities… Spain (Marbella) is up and running, whilst Dubai, Miami and the UK are due to launch this year. Visit www.ourspace.work to find out more.