When I first started working in the co-working industry more than 15 years ago, everyone who walked through our door had to be educated about what co-working actually was. From reassuring people that there was enough space for all to work comfortably to teaching them our community norms, I could see that even the early adopters were skeptical.
The tables have turned since then. And while most people in the business world are now fully familiar with co-working, there are still some widespread misconceptions about shared workspaces that I would like to clear up.
‘Co-Working Is a Millennial Trend’
Many people think co-working spaces are nothing but large open offices where a handful of twentysomethings sit in clusters and type away, headphones on. But that picture couldn’t be further from the reality.
Co-working is all about community. In my experience, fostering a diverse community that helps people build connections and find inspiration to grow is what makes a co-working space thrive.
For example, Workbar members come from a variety of backgrounds, including age, industry and gender. Pulling data from our Workbar user base we saw that the majority of our co-working members are in their mid- to late 30s and have an average of five to 10 years of professional experience.
‘Only Small Businesses and Startups Use Co-Working Spaces’
While co-working is very popular among freelancers, small-business owners and early-stage startup founders, shared workspaces have diversified since the early 2000s, and those joining the trend come from a variety of industries and from companies of all sizes.
Billion-dollar tech companies like IBM and Microsoft have placed employees around the country into co-working spaces in recent years, as a move to support innovation and employee satisfaction as well as to reduce real estate costs.
‘Companies Use Co-Working Mainly as a Temporary Space Solution’
While this was true when co-working first started, with the changes in the HR world and the steady growth we have seen in remote work, these days co-working is a permanent solution for many companies and professionals.
Remote workers and freelancers don’t want to go back to traditional offices now that they can enjoy on-demand, shared workspaces that offer the flexibility they need. Large companies, on the other hand, are realizing that giving their employees the opportunity to work in collaborative environments where they are most comfortable can increase productivity greatly.
‘Co-Working Is a Perk of Living in a Metropolis’
Many associate the co-working movement with the biggest and most congested cities; think New York, Chicago, Berlin, London. However, part of the beauty of shared workspaces is that they help ease people’s commutes. So, what if you don’t live in the heart of the city? What if you have a family in the suburbs and want to use an efficient workspace that is also close to home? Co-working is an option for you too.
When we developed Workbar’s hyper-regional model, we did it with surban professionals in mind. With our expansion we’re not only looking to serve city folks; we want to grow in the suburbs. The idea is to ensure that professionals don’t have to travel more than 20 minutes to get to work. Wouldn’t it be great to do something else with the time we usually spend commuting?
Co-working has certainly come a long way since I first got involved in the industry, but the most interesting chapter is yet to come. As co-working grows and disrupts the HR and real estate industries worldwide, it will continue to gain popularity. And I might even risk saying that in a few years, sharing a workspace will be a standard practice for most professionals and companies in all industries.