Coworking (or co-working) is not (only) a fancy new trend. The first trial goes back to 1995 with the C-BASE prototype (a hackerspace established in Berlin). Other terms have been used to describe this new labour organisation such as “cooperative work”. Let’s take a close up on the rise of coworking over the last decade.
A short story of coworking…
It appears that Brad Neuberg, game designer, was at the origins of the movement. He was the first one to use the term “coworking” to qualify collaborative working spaces (especially in the digital world). In 2005, The Hat Factory opens in San Francisco with a Wi-Fi access, common lunches, mediation… The founder’s will (Brad Neuberg) was to create a more sociable working space than traditional offices. In 2007, Brad Neuberg’s concept is riding on the fast lane of the road to success! Wikipedia writes a page on co-working and coworking spaces begin open in Europe (first in Barcelona in 2008, then in France). Today, there are more than 3000 coworking spaces over the world!
A very popular concept in Europe!
Europe very easily acquainted itself to this new way of working. In 2013, there were already 1160 coworking spaces whilst only 853 where counted in the United States. The phenomenon is global however as we identify 245 coworking spaces in Asia, almost 150 in Latin America and about 50 in Africa.
Coworking in France
The French begin to really like co-working…
In 2014, already 250 coworking spaces have opened in France and more than 100 000 people currently work or have worked in this type of installation. Paris has the largest concentration of coworking spaces (around 30!).
…although the concept still appears to be rather confidential.
According to a study (2014) by Ipsos, BPIFrance, Groupe La Poste et Bureaux à Partager, coworking is a practice that remains unknown of by approximately two-thirds of the French. However, coworking is destined to develop itself in the following years. There are about 6 millions square-meters worth of unoccupied offices in the whole of Ile-de-France: 4.4 millions sqm of vacant offices to rent and 1.5 million sqm of non-optimised spaces by firms.
52% of coworkers are employees of small to very small businesses or associations, and 48% are freelance. Two-thirds are around 34 years old. A majority of co-workers work in the creative sector or in new technologies (web developers, designers, marketing).
What are they looking for?
Coworking is the solution to a certain amount of needs:
Sharing: many members of coworking spaces used to work alone and felt the need to open up. Coworking gives the opportunity to be part of a community : it is a pleasant place to work and it is stimulating!
A place to work: it is not always easy to work at home or in coffee shops. In a co-working space one has access to an appropriate and motivating working space.
Money saver! Rents can be extremely high in big cities so to have one’s own individual office is often complicated and expensive. Coworking is an answer to those who want an office without having to sacrifice other activities.
What will coworking look like in the future?
At first, coworking spaces were developed independently (although some created partnerships to provide their community with services. Nowadays, corporations are more and more interested by the concept and some even develop their own network. Bouygues Immobilier for instance has launched its own structure of collaborative working space (it is called Nextdoor).
Where will you work in the future?
Considering large companies’ obsession with reducing costs to the minimum, it is very likely that working trends will radically change in the next decade and that more people will telework. However, coworking will also profit this shift to more independent workers and entrepreneurs who will need adequate and cosy places to work!