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Genesis of the term[edit]

Note that when I created the term coworking and started the first space I had no idea of Bernie Dekovens 'coworking' term; it's merely a coincidence that he had a similar term to describe something different. I disagree with the edit that's been made on the main coworking page around the genesis of the term coworking referring to spaces for the self-employed working together being based on Bernie having a similar term, but can't edit it since I'm involved with coworking. Brad Neuberg (talk) 08:46, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, Brad never mentioned Dekovens term to me in the beginning, and he was never someone that any of us that started coworking had heard of. --Factoryjoe (talk) 18:32, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
Hi folks, I posted several years ago about the inaccuracies in this page but they have not been updated. Factoryjoe above (whose real name is Chris Messina, one of the earliest people involved in coworking and a major contributor to it) concurs with me above. I have references to the New York Times "They're Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side", Mother Jones "Practical Values: Works Well With Others", Inc. Magazine "Coworking Spaces Grow in Popularity", and an extensive article with sources I've written on the start of coworking that shows that Bernie DeKoven had nothing to do with what is now known as the coworking movement. I'm going to go ahead and update these inaccuracies in the main wikipedia page, but wanted to provide this rationale if there are any questions. Brad Neuberg (talk) 01:42, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Best not, given your conflict of interest.
What was Dekoven using the term for?
Propose the changes on this talk page, with references clearly demonstrating that Dekoven was describing something else. --Ronz (talk) 02:22, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Ronz, according to Wikipedia: "In 1999 De Koven coined the term coworking to describe computer-supported collaborative work" (perhaps similar to "pair programming", a term use prominently later). This is very different than the sense used in "coworking spaces", the subject of this article; De Koven also coined the term "technography", along similar lines. The term "coworking" is a natural back-formation of "coworker", so it's not surprising that many people would use the term for different things, independent of one another. Brad Neuberg is widely acknowledged as the originator of the coworking movement, and if he says he wasn't influenced by De Koven's use of the term, there seems no reason to doubt his word. It does not seem a conflict of interest for Neuberg to disambiguate an incorrect associations between the two uses of the term. I've proposed a change on the page to meet the goal of giving each person credit for their uses of the term. I hope this is satisfactory. --Shepazu (talk) 03:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I expect that we'll end up with something like that, without the WP:OR problems. --Ronz (talk) 17:16, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Ronz.
In terms of me starting coworking (and coining the term), I have multiple mainstream citations from fact-checking news organizations:

CONTEMPLATING his career path a couple of years ago, a young computer programmer named Brad Neuberg faced a modern predicament. “It seemed I could either have a job, which would give me structure and community,” he said, “or I could be freelance and have freedom and independence. Why couldn’t I have both?”
As someone used to hacking out solutions, Mr. Neuberg took action. He created a word — coworking, eliminating the hyphen — and rented space in a building, starting a movement.
While coworking has evolved since Mr. Neuberg’s epiphany in 2005...

So what is the lonesome office-less worker to do? In 2005, Brad Neuberg, a software programmer in San Francisco, hit upon a simple solution: He got a few friends together to share a rental space, as well as printers, fax machines, and wireless Internet, and—like a good start-up founder—branded his creation "coworking."

"I couldn't figure out why I had to choose between freedom and community," says Brad Neuberg, the computer programmer who coined the term coworking. "I wanted both. So I started imagining what that would look like."
In 2005, Mr. Neuberg found a woman's community hall in San Francisco that was empty during the day, and he struck a deal to use the space as the first coworking site. Every morning, Mr. Neuberg set up tables and waited for coworkers.
"For the first two months, no one showed up," he says, laughing at his initial hubris. "But people started trickling in and the word spread." Soon enough, he had started a movement.

When software engineer Brad Neuberg opened a communal workspace in 2005 and called it coworking, he wanted to achieve the benefits of self-employment without the loneliness that working in a bathrobe can entail. He rented a space from a non-profit organization that gave him a deal, set up rolling tables that could be moved out of the way at night, and waited for people to come work with him. Nobody came until two months later, and he closed the coworking space after about a year.
"I thought coworking was dead," says Neuberg. "But then it turned out that all those people who had come by--because I told them take this idea, steal it, and remix it--planted all of these seeds that started blooming about a year or two years later."
Five years later, there are coworking spaces in almost every major city in the United States and more than 75 spaces globally, listed on the coworking Google group's website.

"I had been working at a start-up company, and I was unhappy," Neuberg told Deskmag. "I couldn't figure out how to have freedom and community at the same time… That original start-up I was unhappy with was at a rent-a-office… It was actually in a Regus space. I was in no way inspired by that, because it was utterly non-social. It had a very corporate drone feel to it. Those were ways to just save costs. There was no cross-fertilization or communication. Those just feel like shared utilities to me. Coworking had this extra spark of community."
Neuberg discussed his frustrations with a life coach, and through their sessions he arrived at the idea of coworking, which he put into action in 2005. He struck an agreement with a women's community center called Spiral Muse in San Francisco's Mission district to utilize their space during business hours several days a week. But the idea didn't take off quickly, and almost died after one year.
"I naively thought that I would put a couple of ads on Craigslist and the masses would show up and it would be easy. And it wasn't. For the first two months, no one showed up. I realized I needed to take a different approach. I started coming up with flyers, talking to people, word of mouth. People started trickling in and showing up, and we had our first coworkers... I would tell people, "steal this idea, remix it and make it your own.
"At a certain point, about a year into Spiral Muse, the space seemed like it had died, it felt like coworking had died. But all these people who had taken this idea and remixed it actually ended up making another space called Hat Factory."

— DeskMag
Note that Bernie DeKoven is _not_ mentioned at all in any of the above fact-checked articles; it turned out to be a complete coincidence that Bernie chose the word coworking for his own work.
When I coined the term coworking I did that independently of other terms. About a year and a half later while looking for a domain name for coworking for the coworking wiki I stumbled on ( link from around that time) that was owned by Bernie DeKoven. He knew nothing about the collaborative workspaces we were involved in. He had started an institute called the Coworking Institute that looked like it was trying to increase awareness of collaborative techniques and technologies. Bernie and I briefly connected on the phone at that time and laughed about the fact that we had both chosen coworking to refer to the different things we were pursuing. We chose the same word to refer to different things that we were doing but in no way were our initiatives connected. Bernie's a great guy who's done interesting work but was unconnected with the rise of the coworking space movement; factoryjoe (Chris Messina in real life), an important person in coworking's rise confirms this in the talk page above as well.
There are no articles linking Bernie DeKoven's Coworking Institute to the coworking movement; if there are, they are examples of articles incorrectly referencing Wikipedia itself and then being linked from Wikipedia as citations in a circular manner.
I've also published an article acting as a primary reference to the start of coworking for other details.
Brad Neuberg (talk) 11:48, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Looks like the sources were simply ignorant of DeKoven.
It's been asserted that DeKoven was describing something else. Any sources? --Ronz (talk) 16:06, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Hi Ronz, where are your sources that show that Bernie DeKoven's Coworking Institute had anything to do with the shared workspace coworking movement, and that the Hat Factory is the first space (which is also an incorrect fact on what you reverted)? I've provided very high quality citations (New York Times, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor, etc.) for all the changes I've made, while the old reverts had no citations or bad citations. Brad Neuberg (talk) 16:33, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
So you're withdrawing your proposal and we're ready to discuss the content as it is? --Ronz (talk) 20:53, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
No :) I'm at work now so can't focus on this for a bit; I'm putting together a more formal proposal for the history section that I'll post here on the talk page, in conjunction with others in the coworking community. There's shared agreement that the coworking history section is a bit of a mess with lots of errors that have been present for years, so a group of us will draft revised text for this section with citations; even though Bernie De Koven is unconnected to the coworking movement, we might include a section mentioning the work he did but that it is disconnected from the coworking movement as its known today. It will take awhile for us to get the text together; we will post it here to the Talk page when ready.
In the meantime, the text you reverted suffers from errors that you've failed to address, including a citation from a trusted source that links Bernie De Koven's use of the term coworking to the coworking movement the Wikipedia page actually discusses. Coworking as defined on the Wikipedia page today is "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.", while the only reference to Bernie De Koven's Coworking Institute from the page is "CoWorking is the art of online collaboration. Technography is one of its tools. In use by major organizations throughout the world, the Technography method is is a powerful solution for today’s Intranet- and Internet-connected organizations where teams are widely distributed." Doesn't sound like the coworking movement to me at all. You've also failed to respond to the strong citations I provided earlier to the New York Times, Mother Jones, Christian Science Monitor, etc. that dispute the account on the current coworking wikipedia page and clearly identify me as the originator of the coworking movement; the only citation present there for Bernie's claim is a site named that I've never heard of and which doesn't necessarily fact-check its material in the same way as the mainstream news sources I provided. Best, Brad Neuberg (talk)
BTW, going back into the Wiki history it appears as if the original change in 2009 which listed me as the originator of coworking was changed by someone named Cybernie; sounds like that was Bernie De Koven himself. Seems like that change never should have gone through as a conflict of interest then; it was never talked about on this page first. See the diff. Best, Brad Neuberg (talk) 22:37, 20 February 2014 (UTC)
Until you have a new proposal, let's talk about the article as it is:
I keep this article on my watch list because of the reoccurring spam and self-promotion problems with the article. I'm not responsible for the article being the way it is, nor for fixing it.
Yes, I think it's a fair assumption to say Cybernie was DeKoven editing against a coi.
DeKoven was using the term. We have no independent sources saying how he was using it? --Ronz (talk) 01:08, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe we do, except for the Coworking Institute website itself (it's always been unclear to me how much of that site is from Bernie De Koven and how much came from Gerrit Visser, whose name is also on that site). I've personally never found any other independent references to what Bernie De Koven was doing with his Coworking Institute. Brad Neuberg (talk) 02:21, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not finding anything either...
DeKoven is using Majorfun (talk · contribs) as well, and has been working with others to avoid coi problems.
In Bernie De Koven is says:

In 1999 De Koven coined the term coworking to describe computer-supported collaborative work.[1][2]

I don't think it worth noting in this article.
Can anyone get their hands on OED to see if coworking is in it yet and what info they have on its origin? --Ronz (talk) 18:39, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I've updated Bernie De Koven removing the coworking section. I also commented on Talk:Bernie_De_Koven, "Removed coworking section, as the wayback version of and the article make it clear that Bernie was using the term to mean something different than what caught on, what it now means." Lloydde (talk) 01:48, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
Hi, all. This is Bernie DeKoven. I do not at all contest that Brad's use of the term "coworking" to describe the idea of a shared, and hopefully communal office space is original to him. I do want to make clear, however, that I did use the term "coworking" - actually earlier than 1999, but as far as the wayback machine is able to document, 1999 - - which is a good enough date to establish my prior use - to describe what I called "working together as equals." It seems to me that this is very much in the same spirit as Brad's use of the term. And it is also true that I linked the use to computers.

Here's a bit more of the history of my use of the term: I had developed a methodology I called "technography" for facilitating meetings. It was based on using a single computer (at that time, computers were hard to come by and never found in meeting rooms) with a big projector to help document and organize collaborative work, especially brainstorming and strategic planning meetings. I've written about that extensively, first in 1986 in a publication called "Power Meetings." Later in 1990 is a book called "Connected Executives". Here's an article from the LA Times - - describing a bit more about my use - and an article by Michael Schrage which shows me using the domain - - I established the CoWorking Institute in which Gerrit later joined me in the capacity of archivist to help document other applications of technology to support collaborative work. When I discovered that Brad had started using that term, I was delighted, and supported him totally in his efforts to apply it to his concept, granting him the use and - Gerrit and I decided to keep I feel that conceptually, we are working towards the same ends, which is why I feel so good about his use of the word. On the other hand, I do believe that, though he may not have known about my prior use of the term, that reference to me, not as the originator of his use of the term, but as the originator of the term itself, is both merited and of value to all parties.

Hi Bernie! Good to hear from you. This is Brad Neuberg. I'll always appreciate that you donated the and domain names to the coworking shared workspace movement. However, I've never felt that your use of the term coworking and the usage of the term coworking for the shared workspaces I started are the same; its just a coincidence that we chose the same word. The vernacular term 'coworking' that is currently used refers today to the shared communal workspaces I helped start. Perhaps there can be a Wikipedia disambiguation page that points to a new Wikipedia article about the way in which you used it? Best, Brad Neuberg (talk) 00:07, 30 October 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Magid, Lawrence J. "Outlining Brings Meeting to Order." Los Angeles Times. 29 March 2000.
  2. ^ Staff. "Compartir, nueva idea empresarial; emprenda sin invertir mucho." Vanguardia. 23 August 2013.

Not true imho[edit]

I think this statement needs a citation: "Coworking is not only about the physical place, but about establishing the coworking community first." To me coworking space is just about a place to work away from home. I don't want to be involved in any community building. I just want a desk that's not in the same place I sleep. (talk) 23:58, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Then, please, us a business center. That is something different. In a coworking space, we want community driven people. You are still welcome but it can happen that you start to like the community and see more in the space than just your work. You were warned ;) (talk) 10:29, 9 March 2018 (UTC)

I have to add to my indignation at the "community-first" claim as fact. It is not fact, but opinion, with a citation to another opinion that has no further references to credible sources. To suggest that a coworking business must first create a community is ideological claptrap. To also state that any business starting from a non-community mindset must be a real estate "player" is nothing but shallow vitriol. It's quite feasible to first think of a coworking space as individuals who prefer to have a "base" from which to work outside of the home, and the essential facilities that come with it. The entrepreneur could then ask themselves "what kind of space would I love to work in" and use this as a philosophy. A community can then arise out of the (entirely random) group of people who are attracted to the provisions of the space and the owner's philosophy. Space and philosophy go hand in hand. But to claim the formulation of community comes first is putting the horse before the cart. A business should be agile, and open to a culture that forms organically, rather than trying to force a "community" down people's throats. It's primarily a place of work, after all, not some theme park. The business owner should think about the space, comfort, how quiet it will be, what facilities will be available, hours of operation, and yes even keep a certain demographic in mind (as possibly a niche market), and use these as selling points certainly. But it does not necessarily have to start with a community-first ideology. This is backwards thinking. Lfeuerbach (talk) 10:48, 20 May 2018 (UTC)

In answer to Lfeuerbach: I think we just see the world differently. Example: We needed a way to get from A to B faster and more reliable, so we started working on the invention of the car. Only with that idea in our mind (better movement) we developed the technical details.

For Coworking Spaces this means: We want a community of like-mindeed people. So we build a coworking space - and then work out the technical details. And yes, if we did not want a community, but "just" a working place, the result would be different. Then we would work from home, or in small boxes.

So in my world it is very clear, that community is the first part of the coworking space and that *IS* a must. Everything else is sometih´hing different. (And, as life goes, a coworking space can become something else, and something else can become a coworking space.) (talk) 13:37, 19 November 2019 (UTC)

Did you even read my comment? I'm sorry, but you don't get to decide what is a coworking space and what isn't. (This user did not sign his comment :( and it is niot clear what the reference for his words are).

Affinity Lab[edit]

The earliest known coworking space in the United States was Affinity Lab, located in Washington, D.C. which was formed in 2001 and described as "a collective work space designed to inspire, encourage and promote the individual and collaborative production of digital media."[1]

I removed the above recent addition to the History section because it seems to me that it requires original research to make the claim that this is the "earliest known", and perhaps even that it was a co-working space as defined for this article. --Ronz (talk) 16:13, 21 July 2016 (UTC)

The OR point makes sense, but it definitely fits within the coworking definition. If we are going to talk about the history of coworking, it makes sense to note that coworking at least started as early as 2001 which could be said with no OR required. (8/8/2016) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:25, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

We need a reliable history, not primary sources. Ideally a history that compares the current coworking boom with other shared workspaces of the past and present. --Ronz (talk) 17:15, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

What does that look like? Would fit what you're looking for? It's a reputable source, establishes 2001 date and talks about the history and trend of coworking. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:35, 23 August 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ "A F F I N I T Y L A B - home". 2001-03-12. Archived from the original on March 12, 2001. Retrieved 2016-07-05. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)

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Do we really need so many photos of work spaces? Several have copyright problems and I have nominated 2 for deletion and most of the others have been added by WP:SPA users. Dom from Paris (talk) 09:37, 20 July 2018 (UTC)

Commons files used on this page have been nominated for deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons files used on this page have been nominated for deletion:

Participate in the deletion discussions at the nomination pages linked above. Community Tech bot (talk) 10:57, 20 July 2018 (UTC)