Different Kinds of Coworking Spaces for Different Kinds of People
By Steve Anderson
Our collective understanding of professional working environments are rapidly changing. More professionals are working remotely, whether they are independent contractors, small business owners, or employees of large corporations. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 20-25% of the US workforce works remotely with some frequency. Businesses of all sizes are seeing the benefits of remote work, including saving money and seeing an increase in employee productivity and morale. Employees are finding that they have more freedom, less stress, and a better work/life balance. Although many people think that working remotely is the same as working from home, this is not always the case. More and more, remote employees are taking advantage of coworking spaces.
The Proliferation of Coworking Spaces
Coworking is a relatively new phenomenon; the very first coworking space was opened in 2005 by a computer scientist named Brad Neuberg. In the years since, coworking spaces have developed into much more than just an alternative to coffee shops for remote employees. In fact, between 2006 and 2012, the number of coworking spaces doubled every year. This proliferation spawned a coworking culture which is having a significant impact on the way we understand the modern day working environment.
The Segmentation of Coworking Spaces
As coworking spaces have grown, they have also become segmented. Some coworking spaces cater to the needs of specific professions, such as musicians, graphic designers, or entrepreneurs. Others are industry-agnostic and provide a space where anyone can come and work regardless of their discipline or industry. There are benefits and drawbacks to each.
Generally a membership-based service, use of coworking spaces generally ranges in price to allow for freelancers, students, and professionals to all work together in one space. Proponents of coworking spaces will say that the main advantage is the community that these spaces foster. According to the “Coworking Manifesto,” coworking communities value collaboration over competition, participation over observation, and friendship over formality. The idea is that by bringing in different workers from otherwise unrelated industries, a synergy will take place where businesspersons benefit from creative professionals and vice versa. In practice, these ideals have been shown to result in a higher level of creativity and productivity in coworking spaces.
Coworking Spaces for Business Professionals
Servcorp, a provider of virtual offices and executive suites since 1978, expanded into the United States in 2010. They offer coworking spaces which specifically cater to the needs of business professionals. By providing coworking spaces in prestigious locations, with membership packages designed with the needs of business professionals in mind, Servcorp is applying the unconventional spirit of coworking to the professional space. This application of the unconventional combined with well-established conventions make Servcorp’s coworking spaces a unique blend of the old and the new. Ideal for those who want to escape distraction and have access to state-of-the-art equipment, Servcorp is a great choice for those who want to take their business to the next level.
There are several reasons why business professionals might consider using a coworking space, at least part of the time. Traveling business professionals can make use of coworking spaces to work in a more stimulating environment than a hotel room or coffee shop. Business professionals might also benefit from the occasional use of a coworking space to escape from the dynamics of a typical office which can stifle productivity. Finally, the diversity of expertise within a coworking space is another benefit because it’s a resource that’s otherwise unavailable in most office environments.
Coworking Spaces for Millennials and Freelancers
Other providers of coworking spaces, especially the ones which are industry-agnostic, often design their coworking membership packages and spaces to appeal to millennial workers. In some ways, this is a wise approach because millennials are the most likely age group to freelance. Since many millennials are averse to the conventional office environment, coworking spaces offer the balance of structure and freedom which engages them and encourages their productivity.
WeWork is the most successful example of such a provider. Recently valued at over $16 billion, WeWork is one of the fastest growing startups in the country. At WeWork, the philosophy of coworking is as important as the service. In order to foster a millennial environment, WeWork’s spaces are decidedly unstructured. They focus on providing spaces where unconventional workers feel free to explore and develop unconventional ideas. While a graphic designer or comic book illustrator may feel out of place in a more structured work environment, they’ll feel at home in an environment like this.
The Future of Coworking Spaces
While the lack of a discernable management structure and open atmosphere appeals to many millennials and can benefit employees in certain industries, it isn’t ideal for every user of coworking spaces. As coworking continues to develop as an option for employees, freelancers, and businesses, it will be interesting to see how an approach to coworking that’s based on traditional office environments compares to an open and unstructured generational approach.
Steve Anderson is a freelance writer in Los Angeles, CA. He occasionally writes about business and digital marketing. Feel free to tweet at him @.