Coworking Defined

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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

Some coworking spaces [5] were developed by nomadic internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffeeshops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices.[6][7][8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

Business accelerators, business incubators and executive suites do not seem to fit into the coworking model, because they often miss the social, collaborative, and informal[9] aspects of the process, with management practices closer to that of a Cooperative, including a focus on community[11] rather than profit.[12] Many of the coworking participants are also participants in BarCamp[13] and other related open source technology activities.[9][14][15]

Coworking spaces are now open in cities around the world. A list of many of these locations is available at the Coworking Wiki[16].

Coworking is however not only about the physical space but initially and mostly about establishing the Coworking community first. The benefits of Coworking can already be experienced outside of Coworking spaces and it is recommended to start with building a Coworking community first before considering opening a Coworking space.[17]

A lot of Coworking communities are formed by organizing Casual Coworking events (e.g. Jellies [18] [19] ) that can take place in people’s living room or in public places such as suitable cafe’s, galleries or multi-functional spaces. During these events Coworkers can experience the benefits of Coworking and get to know each other which lowers the barriers to join a Coworking space later.


The term “coworking” was coined by Bernie DeKoven in 1999[20], and in 2005 used by Brad Neuberg to describe a physical space which he firstly called ‘9 to 5 group’ [21].

Neuberg organized a coworking site called the “Hat Factory” in San Francisco, which is a live-work loft that is home to three technology workers, and is open to others during the day. Coworking spaces now exist in ArgentinaAustralia, the United KingdomCanada and Germany, although most of the sites are in the U.S. Hub Culture Pavilions are leading the development of coworking on a global basis, with a network of locations that merge online tools with physical coworking environments. [22]

The San Francisco-based consulting firm Citizen Agency has actively promoted coworking, starting a space called Citizen Space which rents desks but also allows free drop-ins in the public spaces.[23] Coworking has also spread into many other metropolitan areas, with cities such as Portland, Oregon now offering several thriving coworking venues.[24].

See also


  1. ^ Butler, Kiera (2008-01-01), “Works Well With Others”Mother Jones (Mother Jones (magazine))
  2. ^ DeBare, Ilana (2008-02-19), “Shared work spaces a wave of the future”San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle)
  3. ^ Miller, Kerry (2007-02-26), “Where the Coffee Shop Meets the Cubicle”Business Week (BusinessWeek)
  4. ^ Farby, Julie (2007-03-13), “The Hive Hopes To Revolutionize Traditional Office Space By Creating Coworking Space”, All Headline News
  5. ^ 10 of the best co-working spaces in the UK
  6. ^ Fost, Dan (2007-03-11), “WHERE NEO-NOMADS’ IDEAS PERCOLATE: New ‘bedouins’ transform a laptop, cell phone and coffeehouse into their office”San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco Chronicle)
  7. ^ Von Bergen, Jane (2007-08-19), “A Step Up From Working In PJ’s” ([dead link] – Scholar search), Philadelphia Inquirer
  8. ^ Williamson, Kate (2007-10-02), “Shared offices growing in S.F., Peninsula”, San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco Examiner)
  9. a b c Reed, Brad (2007-10-23), “Co-working: the ultimate in teleworking flexibility”, Network World
  10. ^ LeClaire, Jennifer. Collective Turf Coworking Set to Open in Urbana. Office Space News. April 13th, 2009.
  11. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), “Inspiration Strikes Only a Desk Away”New York Times (The New York Times)
  12. ^ Fost, Dan (2008-02-20), “They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side”New York Times (The New York Times)
  13. ^ Clark, Jessica (2007-10-01), “Coworkers of the World, Unite!”American Prospect (The American Prospect)
  14. ^ Horowitz, Etan (2007-09-27), “Co-working can solve non-traditional office issues”, Orlando Sentinel (Orlando Sentinel)
  15. ^ Berve, Anette (2008-04-25), “In Search of Colleagues” ([dead link] – Scholar search), The Argentimes
  16. ^ Coworking Wiki
  17. ^ How to start a Coworking Space
  18. ^ Work at Jelly
  19. ^ TheWorks Coworking and Jellies
  20. ^ via the Wayback Machine – earliest archived use of the term coworking
  21. ^ Coworking’s first name – earliest use of the term coworking space
  22. ^ “Hub Culture Global Coworking Spaces”.|
  23. ^ Dan Fost, “‘Coworking,’ a cooperative for the modern age”, New York Times, Feb. 21, 2008.
  24. ^ McEwan, Bob (April 11, 2009). “Co-working: a room not of their own”The Oregonian.

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