The early roots of coworking can be traced back hundreds of years to artist and writer collectives and other likeminded communities that got together to work in a common space. It was only more recently that coworking as a way of doing things got an actual word to describe it. The more alert reader will notice the switch out of the hyphen – an action that will activate your trusty spell checker. That’s because the un-hyphenated ‘coworking’ as it is known and used today, has not yet made into the spellchecker’s logic.
It’s about time it did.
Coworking is a modern phenomenon – and here to stay.
The unhyphenated word is recent enough that it’s traceable to an actual person, one Brad Neuberg, who set up a contemporary coworking space in San Fransisco back in 2005. Coworking, as Brad set it up, is a style of work that involves having a shared working environment, often an office, and a group of people engaged in independent activities. Unlike collectives of yore, or your typical modern office environment, coworking types are usually not employed by the same organisation. Typically it describes a group of people who are working independently, but have shared values and who are interested in the powerful synergies that can happen from working alongside other people. Coworking also offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers and small businesses experience while working at home, in a garage, or in a little office. Its advocates are a pretty passionate bunch.
“Coworking is a beautiful, incredible, exciting and really important thing. It is a window into a fundamentally new way of thinking about our relationship with our work. It is made possible by the latest technology but it is rooted in our most fundamental and timeless human nature. It exists because of our innate need to share, help, and socialize with one another.” Tony Bacigalupo. Mayor, New World Cities.
It is certainly playing a critical role in helping shape a new way of working in the world.
Since Brad set up his original office, coworking has evolved to thrive in many shapes and forms, which has meant its meaning has become more ambiguous over time. As a result, answering the question of what coworking is isn’t simple as it first seems. For example, coworking is different from the concept and history of the more commercially evolved Serviced Office Space.
A Serviced Office is an office or office building that is designed for workers, and fully equipped and managed by a facility management company, which then rents the individual offices or floors to other companies. It emerged as a business service across US markets in the 1980’s. Companies offering serviced offices are generally able to offer more flexible rental terms than a conventional leased office space [so you can expand or contract at short notice], which will usually come with restrictive leases and some pretty hefty expense costs like furnishing and equipment. Serviced offices are also referred to as managed offices, business centres, executive suites or executive centres, and can be found in business districts of large cities all over the world.
Serviced office providers are often set up so that tenants can share reception services, business machines and other resources, providing reduced costs and access to equipment, which might otherwise be unaffordable for them. They tend to be unbranded spaces purely there to deliver the basics of operational requirements.
What has evolved here at Generator is a highly effective hybrid. Coworking in a fully serviced space. Known variously as Coworking, Shared Space, Office Services or Flexible Business Office Solutions, the tricky nature of naming reflects its position at the front end of the innovation curve. Whatever you choose to call them, values and culture are their heart – a philosophical way of being in the world of work.
To explore your options in this new world of work, call us and arrange a visit today.