Rise of the coworking movement
Born from isolated technologists building startups in their home offices, coworking is a rapidly spreading office concept wherein people pay reduced rental rates to occupy a shared office space filled with people (typically entrepreneurs) of various backgrounds – marketers, designers, coders, artists, research analysts, accountants, architects, angel investors, journalists and more. What makes coworking unique is the tradition for the space to offer members more than just a desk but an atmosphere and often, coworking spaces offer seminars, mentoring, and in some cases, conferences.
Study shows network sizes rise by coworking
Coworking magazine Deskmag has released the results of their second annual coworking survey and while coworking is increasing in popularity, there are key financial challenges the movement continues to face. Although not a scientific study, the digital magazine surveyed 1,500 people in 52 countries and discovered that 93 percent claimed their social circle has grown “a lot” since joining a coworking space and 86 percent said their business network had grown.
While 76 percent reported an increase in productivity, a major challenge for people officing alone at home is isolation which 88 percent of respondents said had decreased since they began working in a coworking space. The movement is highly powered by word of mouth which is not a challenge for coworking, given than 96 percent were enthusiastic about the sense of community in their coworking spaces.
One of the apprehensions we hear professionals express about coworking space is openly doing business around or in front of strangers, but interestingly, 54 percent of respondents trust their coworking coworkers enough to leave their laptop unattended, with one in three happy to leave their laptop unattended for a few hours, a healthy indication of trust in an open environment. We suspect that this trust varies by culture and location. Various benefits arise from coworking, with 71 percent of people saying they are better able to relax at home.
Who gets the short end of the stick?
The downside is that owners of coworking spaces aren’t exactly in the black – 60 percent were unable to say they made a profit this year. In Austin where AGBeat is headquartered, the coworking movement has been popular for several years and subsequently, we have seen a variety of profit models attempted and some have worked, others have shuttered their doors, but the community, like most major metros, remains a popular option over costly, lonely single offices downtown. Upscale coworking is available in major cities while a more college-esque coworking movement with folding tables is popular, and everything in between.
To find coworking in your city, visit DeskWanted.com or LooseCubes.com.
Presentation: coworking works
For now, the fledgling concept benefits coworkers more than the owners of the coworking space, but supporters cite even more reasons to cowork. Below is a presentation from a coworking proponent in the UK, so the stats are all British, but for the most part, they are similar in America: