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Coworking space in Berlin

Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.[1] Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation.[2] Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values,[3] and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other.[4][5]

Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.[6][7]

Coworking is not only about the physical place, but about establishing the coworking community first. Its benefits can already be experienced outside of its places, and it is recommended to start with building a coworking community first before considering opening a Coworking place.[8] However, some coworking places don't build a community: they just get a part of an existing one by combining their opening with an event which attracts their target group.[9]

A lot of coworking communities are formed by organizing casual coworking events (e.g. "Jellies")[10][11] that can take place in private living rooms or in public places such as suitable cafés, galleries or multi-functional places. During these events Coworkers can experience the benefits of Coworking and get to know each other which lowers the barriers to join a place later.[12]


Citizen Space in San Francisco, CA

In 2005 Brad Neuberg used "coworking" to describe a physical space which he originally called a "9 to 5 group".[13]

Neuberg organized a coworking site called the "Hat Factory" in San Francisco, a live-work loft that was home to three technology workers, and open to others during the day. Brad was also one of the founders of Citizen Space, the first "Work Only" coworking space. Now, coworking places exist worldwide, with over 700 locations in the United States alone.[14][15][16] In 2012, NextSpace, BLANKSACES, Link Coworking, WorkBar Boston, CoCo, and 654 Croswell founded The League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces.[17]

Since Brad Neuberg created the first coworking space, a few studies have shown the number of coworking spaces and available seats have roughly doubled each year.[18]

San Francisco continues to have a large presence in the coworking community, and is home to a growing number of coworking places including RocketSpace, Sandbox Suites, NextSpace, PARISOMA, HubSoMa, and Citizen Space.[19] Also in the bay area, Anca Mosoiu established Tech Liminal in 2009, a coworking place in Oakland.[20] in Miami new places have been opening their doors, among them is CityDesk. Coworking has also spread into many other metropolitan areas, with cities such as Portland, Oregon[21][22] and Wichita, Kansas[23] now offering several thriving coworking venues. New York coworking community has also been evolving rapidly.

Some coworking places [24] were developed by nomadic Internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffeeshops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices.[25][26] A 2007 survey showed that many employees worry about feeling isolated and losing human interaction if they were to telecommute. Roughly a third of both private and public-sector workers also reported that they didn’t want to stay at home during work.[27]

In Europe[edit]

Coworking space in Glasgow, UK
Zonaspace in Saint Petersburg, Russia

As of 2012, the UK is among the most responsive European country to the idea of collaborative working, with a special focus on London. The city leads the coworking market not only for the large number of coworking places it offers but also for the variety of places that exist to fit the differing needs among start-ups, entrepreneurs and freelancers.[28] In March 2012 Google along with several local partners opened a coworking place in the heart of East London. Campus London is located in Tech City and helps multiple start-ups to grow under the same roof, by mentoring them and giving them the chance to learn more through the events that run everyday.[29]

In June 2013 the UK Government announced it would be applying coworking principles to a new pilot scheme for its 'One Public Sector Estate' strategy covering 12 local authorities in England which will encourage councils to work with central government departments and other bodies so that staff share buildings. This will enable the authorities to encourage collaboration as well as re-use or release property and land deemed surplus to requirements, cutting spending and freeing up land for local development.[30]

Coworking is also becoming more common in continental Europe, with the startup metropolis Berlin being a major booster for this development. Several diverse offers can be found in the city, such as Factory Berlin, betahaus, House of Clouds, co.up, raumstation, United Urbanites and many more.[31]

This kind of working environment is not exclusive to big cities. Also smaller urban areas with many young and creative people and especially university cities may offer coworking places, with Cowork Greifswald in Germany being one example. Cooperations between coworking spaces and academic environments are focused.[32]

Another example of the coworking trend is in Scotland, where the Government has introduced legislation to bring business back into the city and town centres. The Unoccupied Properties Bill encourages business owners to rent unused office space again. Measures to reduce rates reliefs on empty commercial properties provides further incentives for property owners to become 'informal landlords' to coworkers.[33]

The European Coworking Assembly,[34] an association that represents EU coworking spaces, was founded in Brussels on April 4 2012.

In Asia[edit]

Coworking in Asia has become very popular since space is limited in major countries like India, Singapore and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong for example, dozens of coworking spaces have been set up to foster the rapidly growing startup community, according to Forbes it is among the leading tech locations in the world, along with Silicon Valley and New York.[35] Spread across almost all districts, coworking places can be found everywhere while the majority of places are situated on Hong Kong Island and there predominantly in the Central and Sheung Wan districts. Pricing is rather flexible and most places offer daily, weekly and monthly open desks as well group rooms of different sizes (e.g. 2, 4, 6 workstation rooms) and also private rooms for a higher fee. With its skyrocketing property and rental prices such coworking spaces are a very good option for small startups and individuals to get their business off the ground. Many places combine coworking with startup incubators, accelerators, funding schemes and mentorship support.[36]


La Maquinita Co - Cowork Argentina

A 2011 survey found most coworkers are currently in their late twenties to late thirties, with an average age of 34 years. Two-thirds are men, one third are women. Four in five coworkers started their career with a university education. The majority of coworkers work in creative industries or new media. Slightly more than half of all coworkers are freelancers.[1] However, the share of salaried employees increases since larger companies start to experiment with coworking, especially in the U.S., where 35 percent work as salaried employees. A small-scale, non-representative study[37][38] at Betahaus Berlin found that the large majority of Betahaus users was freelancing or just founding a company, and that the workforce there consisted of a diverse, heterogeneous group regarding income (below €1.800 to over €5.000), age (22–47 years) and profession (design, media, mechatronics…). Furthermore, the study found that while just about 40 per cent of respondents have insurance comparable to local employees (i.e. health insurance, pension plan and at least one more relevant insurance), more than half feels sufficiently financially and socially secure.


Many misconceptions abound about what coworking encompasses and how it distinguishes itself from business accelerators, incubators and executive suites.[39] These spaces do not fit into the coworking model because they often miss the social, collaborative, and informal[27] aspects of the process. In coworking, management practices are closer to that of a cooperative, including a focus on community[40] rather than profit.[41] Many of the coworking participants are also participants in an unconference like BarCamp[42] and other related open-source participatory technology events.[27][43][44]

Difference between community powered and real-estate centric coworking spaces[edit]

Community powered coworking spaces often start with a community, not a space, take time to build, don’t aim for profit at first, and often struggle financially to break even and become sustainable. Their main asset is precisely the community, its diversity, its capability to create and innovate outside the standards of corporations or research labs. Many of these spaces receive a lot of partnership offerings from corporates and local government, although there’s no easy match.

Real-estate centric coworking spaces are about selling desks first, with building community as a secondary goal. Players target freelance professionals, remote workers, and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) who need a space and seek a community with a collaborative spirit. Customers also often benefit from professional services ranging from printing to incorporation or consulting.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Foertsch, Carsten (2011-01-13). "The Coworker's Profile". Deskmag. 
  2. ^ Butler, Kiera (2008-01-01), "Works Well With Others", Mother Jones 
  3. ^ DeBare, Ilana (2008-02-19), "Shared work spaces a wave of the future", San Francisco Chronicle 
  4. ^ Miller, Kerry (2007-02-26), "Where the Coffee Shop Meets the Cubicle", Businessweek 
  5. ^ Farby, Julie (2007-03-13), "The Hive Hopes To Revolutionize Traditional Office Space By Creating Coworking Space", All Headline News (AHN Media Corp), archived from the original on 17 March 2007 
  6. ^ LeClaire, Jennifer. Collective Turf Coworking Set to Open in Urbana. Office Space News. April 13th, 2009.
  7. ^ DeGuzman, Genevieve and Tang, Andrew Working in the UnOffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits. Night Owls Press. 28 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Space Catalyst: Getting Started". Coworking wiki. 
  9. ^ Foertsch, Carsten (2010-09-01). "7 tips for a successful coworking space". Deskmag. 
  10. ^ Amit. "Jelly". 
  11. ^ "Jelly". 
  12. ^ "4 Reasons to join Collaborative Workplaces". ShareDesk. 2013-06-24. 
  13. ^ Neuberg, Brad (2005-08-09). "Coworking - Community for Developers Who Work From Home". Coding In Paradise. 
  14. ^ "Directory". Coworking wiki. 
  15. ^ Sinclair, Cameron (2009-04-09). "Hub Culture Global Coworking Spaces". Huffington Post. 
  16. ^ "Setting the desk jockeys free". The Economist. 2011-12-31. 
  17. ^ Chang, Jerome. "2 + 2 = 5 (LEXC & Coworking)". WorkDesign Magazine. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "The Future of Coworking: coworking visas, corporate partnerships and real-estate specialists". Martin Pasquier. Innovation Is Everywhere. Retrieved 2015-02-14. 
  19. ^ Abate, Tom (2010-06-04). "Shared work spaces new resource for solo worker". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  20. ^ Woodall, Angela (October 15, 2012). "Hometown Hero: Anca Mosoiu, founder of Oakland's Tech Liminal". The Oakland Tribune. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ McEwan, Bob (April 11, 2009). "Co-working: a room not of their own". The Oregonian. 
  22. ^ Dullroy, Joel (May 9, 2012). "Coworking in Portland". Deskmag. 
  23. ^ Carrie, Rengers (Nov 10, 2010). "Labor Party to open in Old Town for collaborative creative office space". The Wichita Eagle. 
  24. ^ Cowan, Katy (2010-04-22). "10 of the best coworking spaces in the UK". Creative Boom. Archived from the original on 24 April 2010. 
  25. ^ Fost, Dan (2007-03-11), "Where Neo-nomads' Ideas Percolate", San Francisco Chronicle 
  26. ^ Von Bergen, Jane (2007-08-19), "A Step Up From Working In PJ's", Philadelphia Inquirer 
  27. ^ a b c Reed, Brad (2007-10-23), "Coworking: the ultimate in teleworking flexibility", Network World 
  28. ^ [Coworking space London "OfficeMan blog", Dec 11, 2012]
  29. ^ [Google Campus - London "LoveOffices blog", Dec 11, 2012]
  30. ^ Insight: UK Government announces details of One Public Sector Estate scheme
  31. ^ [Coworking spaces Berlin]
  32. ^ deskmag Will Coworking Spaces Be The New Classrooms?, 2013-01-30
  33. ^ [Coworking Scotland "Desk Union", Mar 21, 2013]
  34. ^ European Coworking Assembly
  35. ^ Strauss, Karsten (February 2013), The World's Top 4 Tech Capitals To Watch (after Silicon Valley and New York), Forbes 
  36. ^ Leung, Iris (2014-01-21), Startup Spaces: The Newest Co-Working Spaces in Hong Kong, StartupsHK 
  37. ^ Bihr & Fahle (May 2010), Kurzstudie: Soziale Absicherung im Betahaus Berlin (PDF), Peter Bihr 
  38. ^ Bihr, Peter (2010-05-06), Study: Are Coworkers Poor?, Peter Bihr 
  39. ^ DeGuzman, Genevieve Five Big Myths About Coworking. Deskmag. 1 November 2011.
  40. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), "Inspiration Strikes Only a Desk Away", New York Times 
  41. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), "They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side", New York Times 
  42. ^ Clark, Jessica (2007-10-01), "Coworkers of the World, Unite!", American Prospect 
  43. ^ Horowitz, Etan (2007-09-27), "Coworking can solve non-traditional office issues", Orlando Sentinel 
  44. ^ Berve, Anette (2008-04-25), "In Search of Colleagues" (PDF), The Argentimes, archived from the original (PDF) on 28 August 2008 
  45. ^ "The Future of Coworking: coworking visas, corporate partnerships and real-estate specialists". Martin Pasquier. Innovation Is Everywhere. Retrieved 2015-02-14. 

Further reading[edit]

  • DeGuzman, Genevieve V.; Tang, Andrew I. (August 2011). Working in the UnOffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits. Night Owls Press. ISBN 978-1-937-64501-4. 
  • Jones, Drew; Sundsted, Todd; Bacigalupo, Tony (2009-10-27). I'm Outta Here: how co-working is making the office obsolete. NotanMBA Press. ISBN 978-0982306703. 
  • Kwiatkowski, Angel; Buczynski, Beth (February 2011). Coworking: How Freelancers Escape the Coffee Shop Office. Cohere Coworking. 
  • Schuermann, Mathias (2014-02-19). Coworking Space: A Potent Business Model for Plug 'n Play and Indie Workers. epubli GmbH. ASIN B00IMZWAXU.