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Coworking spaces, Virtual Bunch

The term “coworking” was born in 1999 when American videogame designer, Bernie DeKovem, who studied the benefits of games, created the word. For him, coworking meant “working together as equals”, which contrasts with “working together, yet separate”, the definition we are more used to.

Programmer Brad Neuberg officially launched the first coworking space in San Francisco, California, in 2005. The association originally offered 5 to 8 desks two days a week, with Wi-Fi and shared meals. A year later, the space closed to make way in 2006 to the well-known Hat Factory, which later also closed its doors.

That same year (2005), one of the first coffee shops in Berlin was opened with free Wi-Fi for everyone, inviting any user to come and work with their laptop. It was a trend that many followed, including the world-renowned Starbucks.

Coworking spaces have been spreading across all continents and have changed the way thousands of people work, adding value to the day-to-day life of freelancers and small businesses. According to the statistical figures website Statista, there are currently about 26,300 worldwide.

What is coworking?

Coworking is a space for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers who need a place to work or meet with clients. While they are at it, for which they only need a laptop and a mobile phone, the people responsible for the place are in charge of connecting and creating professional and personal opportunities among and for their members.

Some of the services that you can find in a coworking are mail handling services and call-answering services. It also has a meeting/conference room, a workstation, workspace, or a ‘hot desk’, for one person to use.

You can also find a private office which is a room for an individual or team and nobody else and a virtual office (or virtual company) which is a business that likely doesn’t have a fixed location, address, or phone number.

Finally, there’s a serviced office which is an office or office building that is fully equipped and managed by a facility management company, which then rents individual offices or floors to other companies.

Coworking vs. Your regular office

Unless you attend a small coworking space with little influx of people, on many occasions you will feel that you work in a large company, if it were the case that you go to a large one. The difference with a company is that you will be surrounded by professionals with different capacities, interests and networks of contacts.

The Coworking staff will take care not only that all the equipment, furniture and services work perfectly, but will also manage the networking between its members so that they get to know each other better and thus generate the climate of trust and the collaboration dynamics that go along to accelerate job opportunities and help.

Although we are not alone in a Coworking space while we work on our projects individually, it could be the opportunity to meet and network with people who have the same or similar interests. However, we are not forced to share.

A paradigm shift

The emergence of the Internet in the business world made professionals become more productive, even a single person being able to do the work that a single company did not many years ago.

Along with coworking, one-person companies began to emerge that could do the work that large companies began to outsource. In turn, those same companies began to reduce their workforce by not having the need for such a large payroll if there were freelancers doing the same job sometimes for a much lower cost.

However, these freelancers needed a space to do their work. Perhaps in their homes they had the means to fulfil their functions, but the need to get out of the house and socialize created a market niche that has grown exponentially in the 15 years of its existence.

Who is coworking for?

If at home you have the comfort of having a desk and a comfortable work chair, access to a bathroom, a kitchen and a broadband internet service, why are there people who pay to be in a coworking space? Perhaps the answer is that there are many who are more comfortable in a professional work environment.

Those freelancers, who have all those comforts at home, also need to be with other professionals to work with, who make them more productive and help them focus better.

Coworking also allows you to separate your professional life from your personal life.

But, without a doubt, one of the great attractions of these spaces for some professionals is to be able to share with other professionals whom they can consult when in doubt, with whom they can launch a new project or invest in their new business.

The emergence of the Internet in the business world made professionals become more productive, even a single person being able to do the work that a single company did not many years ago.

Along with coworking, one-person companies began to emerge that could do the work that large companies began to outsource. In turn, those same companies began to reduce their workforce by not having the need for such a large payroll if there were freelancers doing the same job sometimes for a much lower cost.

However, these freelancers needed a space to do their work. Perhaps in their homes they had the means to fulfil their functions, but the need to get out of the house and socialize created a market niche that has grown exponentially in the 15 years of its existence.

Advantages and disadvantages

In addition to all the advantages that we have already mentioned in this article, we still have to comment on the flexibility that coworking spaces have, thanks to the fact that they have quite cheap payment plans, that work by hours of use and that do not need to be hired for long periods of time.

Another advantage is being able to have a space that allows greater concentration when doing work, so it ends up being much more productive than perhaps working from home.

Thanks to the work of space’s staff, networks can be built between people and like-minded professionals. This contact can also be made without the need for intermediaries, thanks to the places that coworking has to relax: cafeteria, dining room, rest rooms, etc.

If you are bothered by noise, this could be one of the disadvantages of coworking. Remember that there will be more people around you working, talking and debating in some cases, so wearing headphones to listen to music while you work would not be a bad idea.

But, excess silence can also be disturbing. If it’s a coworking space with a library philosophy, where everyone is silent, it may also be uncomfortable and your mobile phone ringing could even be embarrassing.

Speaking of phone calls, remember that you are in a shared space, so there is not 100% privacy. Although everyone is focused on their work, if you have to take a call, they will surely listen to what you say, so leaving the space would be your best alternative if that is inconvenient for you.

How much?

Although there are free coworking spaces (many of them that are part of city councils or other public institutions), most of them are managed by the private sector and their prices vary depending on the country where it is located, its size and the services they offer.

For example, according to Coworking Insights, the country with the most expensive prices for its coworking spaces is Switzerland, with an average price of $ 358 per month. Malta follows with $ 342 and only seven spaces at the time of the study (2019). In third place is Israel with $ 321 and Hong Kong finishes in fourth place with $ 316.

Although the numbers may sound daunting, they are much cheaper than renting an office on a monthly basis.

Some coworking companies

Regus is the largest company in the world to offer coworking services. It currently has more than 3,000 workspaces in more than 800 cities in more than 100 countries.

Success breeds more success, under this premise Spaces was born in 2008. It has locations in more than 40 countries and nearly 200 cities, and, besides offering office equipment, furniture, supplies, internet, private phones, kitchen, and free coffee on-site, they also have catering packages for their members.

WeWork is present in more than 20 countries and 80 cities, and has a membership base of more than 260,000 individuals.

While Airbnb is an online marketplace for people to list, discover, and book accommodations worldwide, through Airbnb for Work they are promoting coworking and co-living through shared housing.

Coworking and Covid-19

Given the pandemic caused by Covid-19 and the security measures and health recommendations that we all have had to take to protect ourselves, the question arises, what are coworking spaces doing to prevent the spread of the virus in their facilities?

In the case of WeWork, the company has updated its website to report the actions it has taken to make its members feel more secure. Thus, we have seen actions such as greater disinfection, giving priority to personal space, putting up behavioural signage posters, improving disinfection protocols and expanding sanitation protocols. They are also prioritizing personal space to allow distancing in the workplace and have even partnered with leading global engineering consulting firm Arup to improve indoor air quality and HVAC strategy in their businesses.

In times when the way of working is radically changing, with more and more people exercising their professions at home and in spaces dedicated to work, coworking has the opportunity to grow even more, expand its service offering and attract more clients with attractive membership plans and benefits for all types of professionals looking for a place to develop and expand.

Are you interested in the idea of working remotely? Read more articles related to this topic: Improving Your Work In a Remote Setting

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