Co-working: The new trend in modern business

In this piece, we look at the rise of co-working, the sharing of a work environment between groups of people of different goals.

There is an emerging style of work that has gone viral all around the world. It has become used by entrepreneurs, work-at-home professionals, people to travel a lot and also independent contractors. It involves a group of people sharing a working environment each with an independent activity and unlike the traditional office spaces, those working are in most cases not employed by a similar organisation.

The concept of people who share values gathering in an area because of the synergy that happens from working with a group of talented people in the same space can be defined as coworking. It provides a source of inspiration, collaborations, networking and a way of getting inspired as well as to create new prospects for your business.

The term co-working to mean a shared and collaborative workspace was coined by Brad Neuberg, a programmer who opened the first official co-working space in San Francisco as a reaction to a lack of productivity in the home offices and isolation in traditional offices. The idea then spread across the United States with estimates suggesting that there were about 760 co-working spaces in 2011. Co-working has also grown in Europe and Asia with the rise being attributed to technologies such as cloud computing, freelancers in the workforce and start-ups. Recently, a WeWork study found that 81 per cent of its member businesses reported increased productivity.

Co-working spaces provide professionals with the ability to move away from the distractions that come with working from home and get work done. It is usually equipped with the usual amenities like internet access, audio and video equipment, office equipment, reserved desks, meeting spaces and sometimes a kitchenette.

Related: Cool co-working spaces in the UK for your start-up or small business

There are numerous advantages that come with co-working especially for the small business owner, work-at-home professionals and entrepreneurs such as:

A professional environment

Working from home is at times difficult because of the distractions brought by the television, pets or even children. Even though working from home or in a local library or coffee shops are mostly free of charge, these spaces are rarely productive working environments. Co-working spaces have an expense attached to them but are worth investing in due to the professional atmosphere and set up which helps in sustaining interest in your business.

Networking opportunities

When you choose a co-working space, you will be interacting with other professionals within that space as well as meeting clients. It is recommended that before joining a co-working organisation, ask about the other types of professionals or businesses that you will be sharing the area with to see whether there is any potential for partnerships and if the businesses are in direct competition with yours for customers.

Sense of community

You become part of a community with co-working because it brings the feeling of being connected as opposed to being isolated. This helps to develop new ideas and innovations. You even get to communicate your ideas to people who share your vision and work together towards achieving your common goals.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a co-working space and they include:

  • If being in a professional environment will make you more productive.
  • If exposing your clients to other businesses bring about the issue of competition.
  • The cost of the co-working space and how you will be paying, will it be in monthly installments or prepayment for a given amount of time.

In the long run, only you as the business owner can make the decision on what really is the best move for your business and if having a co-working space will result in more benefits.

See also: The co-working conundrum – Can a shared office benefit you?

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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