The History of Coworking and Why it’s Now More Relevant Than Ever
September 21, 2022 | Tristan Marris
Coworking, shared spaces, hot desks, working remotely – since the pandemic, everyone from one-person bands to large corporates are exploring new working arrangements.
As we emerge from the world of lockdowns and working from home, we’re looking for ways to reconnect, reinvigorate the lost company culture, and nourish our mental health after a couple of years of disruption and uncertainty.
The idea of coworking, however, isn’t a new one.
Back in 1995 a group of German computer engineers started working together to share knowledge, equipment and facilities in a setup they called “hackerspace”.
Four years later, professional game designer and “fun theorist” Bernard DeKoven introduced the word coworking to describe not a physical space but a way of working. Coworking, he explained, was a way of breaking down the hierarchy.
This new way of working gained popularity globally, and in 2002 Schraubenfabrik opened as the self-proclaimed “mother of coworking”. It was soon followed by Brad Neuberg’s space in San Francisco, with many people still referring to him as the official inventor of coworking.
Coworking, then, isn’t a new idea. But it’s become mainstream as we’ve explored different arrangements for how, when and where we work. Working from home isn’t an attractive option for many, so having a shared space where you can work alongside others offers several benefits.
Coworking is much more than shared overheads and rent.
We know from research that mood and productivity improve when we are around others. We are more focused and efficient with our time when we’re away from the distractions of home life. Connecting and collaborating with others helps our creativity, even if we work in different industries.
Once the domain of artists, tech entrepreneurs and start-ups, coworking is now an attractive and viable option whether you’re a freelancer, a small business or part of a larger organisation.
As more companies adjust to increasing demands for flexible working arrangements, coworking spaces help create the perfect hybrid working environment where employees can combine time in the office with working from home or a shared workspace. For this new autonomous workforce, where, when and how you get your work done is no longer as important as what you produce. Outputs are more valuable than inputs.
So companies are embracing coworking sites for hybrid working models and offsite strategy sessions. And individuals are reaping the benefits of hot desking in a collaborative, shared space that fuels their creativity and supports their mental health.