COWORKING: OFFICE 2.0

Bernie DeKoven coined the term coworking in 1999. He used it to describe individuals working independently or collaboratively in shared office space. Geared toward freelancers and startups, coworking has become a new trend in American business. Instead of working out of a living room or local coffee shop, workers who don’t have access to regular office space can instead join a coworking collective.

So why do people choose coworking? For many people, working alone is counter-productive. While the quiet of a home office may seem peaceful, to many it can be stifling, causing them to seek distractions and thus negatively impacting their work. The other extreme, the local coffee shop, can be too loud – it’s hard to work when no one else around you is. Before you know it you’re deep in conversation with your barista while your project goes untouched. Coworking spaces offer a happy medium – other people surround you, but they are all hard at work on their own projects. Justin Stewart, co-founder of Industrious (a coworking space in Chicago), told the Chicago Tribune, “It’s like a psychological thing almost, where you see other people out of your door. You see them working, and it inspires you.”

But what makes coworking spaces appealing besides the presence of others? Most coworking spaces offer amenities found in offices but not easily available to people working from home – things such as WiFi, photocopying machines, office printers, meeting rooms, and coffee machines. Some coworking spaces offer even more perks, such as networking happy hours, office excursions, and fitness programs. It has become clear that the benefits of working around others are as tangible as the benefits of not working in a traditional office.

As of July 2013, there were 3,000 coworking spaces worldwide, and the benefits continue to expand. A coworking organization in Canada has launched the first health insurance plan for coworking members, while some coworking organizations have partnered up to allow members to use multiple locations. Coworking is a fascinating trend that is growing yearly – to learn more about coworking, visit Deskmag and take a look at their interactive timeline “The History of Coworking.”

Image Credit: Luca Mascaro