What’s coworking?

Coworking is on the increase all around the globe. If you’re not sure what coworking is, I’ll introduce you to it, but you might first like to look at the following brief YouTube clip which explains coworking.

If you watched the YouTube clip you will have a reasonable idea of what coworking is. I have been coworking since 2012 and I can highly recommend it. I have described my journey to coworking through the posts in the blog section.  I am so keen on coworking that I decided to write about it and promote it through this website and blog, as well as via Twitter and Pinterest. I hope you enjoy discovering more about what is often described as ‘the future of work’.

Coworking
According to Wikipedia, coworking began around 2005 in San Francisco.

The growing trend towards collaboration has seen coworking spaces popping up around the globe to meet an ever-increasing demand worldwide. Sustainability, and sharing resources and knowledge are key factors driving this new way of doing business.

Here in my hometown Melbourne I co-work part-time at Hub Melbourne, a highly regarded, privately owned, coworking space in the heart of the city, now in its third year of operation.

“.. the future of work.”

Coworking spaces are not serviced offices, executive suites or business incubators. Co-workers typically work in a shared office space, whilst they work on their own businesses or projects, often as solo operators or in partnerships, and sometimes as part of a small business.

A growing number of large corporates have found that sending teams to a coworking space created opportunities to connect and collaborate with budding entrepreneurs and start-ups, often facilitating seed-funding and partnership opportunities.

Jan Stewart Hub Australia Culture Host at the Hub Melbourne Space Host Desk.

Jan Stewart Hub Australia Culture Host at the Hub Melbourne Space Host Desk.

I spoke to Jan Stewart the ‘Culture Host’ for Hub Australia about coworking. I asked her to explain the reasons for the growing popularity of coworking spaces. She said that there is a “shift towards the sharing economy and the way we do business”. People and organisations “have become more aware of the benefits of sharing resources and the importance of sustainability”. A greater emphasis on collaboration is also a growing trend.

Jan highlighted the popularity of sharing services, citing other sharing examples such as accommodation service “airbnb” and car share schemes such as “Flexicar”.

Another key factor is “the internet which makes it easier to share what we have”. With the exponential use of portable devices, gone are the days of being tied to a single PC and a dedicated desk.

A membership of a coworking space usually means you can use the space on a part or full-time basis depending upon the membership level. Part time members usually sit wherever there is a free desk. Full time members have permanent desks, and often use the space to enjoy the opportunity to network and meet new people, which in traditional offices is less available. The open-plan environment and, in the case of the Hub, the numerous professional development and social events for members and guests help to increase the possibility of making useful and often serendipitous connections.

Coworking is popular among freelancers and telecommuters who may find working from home to be very isolating. From a regional point of view where remote locations certainly create isolation, the opportunity to co-work could not only offer a remedy for loneliness, but could also bring the benefits of sharing new ideas with easier access to other coworkers.

“..bring together interesting ideas,
innovative solutions and better outcomes..”

When I discussed the coworking concept with regional Enterprise Development Centre representatives, one issue that came up was “a fear of sharing ideas in case someone pinches them”. It’s a natural fear, but not exclusively related to coworking. Nonetheless some care is needed when sharing ideas, however idea theft is preventable if precautions are taken. A more likely scenario is that when two or more people start discussing an issue etc… an even better solution may arise – the “two heads are better than one” principle often applies. With coworking there is a ready supply of people to bounce ideas off.

Jane Deany coworking at Hub Melbourne

Jane Deany coworking at Hub Melbourne

In the spirit of collaboration, these chance encounters which create better outcomes are, I believe, more likely to occur in a coworking environment where the eclectic mix of members can bring together interesting ideas, innovative solutions and better outcomes.

I also spoke with a coworking business manager from the Victorian regional city of Warragul, Teresa Mitchell (who I met through the Hub). We spoke about her Coworx organisation which is in it’s second year of operation. She noted that one issue is to get people to feel comfortable working “without walls”.

I asked Jan what members loved about coworking at the Hub and she explained “Hub‘s mixed bag lunches where members bring food to share each Thursday and the ‘wine down’ drinks each Friday at 5pm.

Members also valued “the presence of a ‘Space Host’ who provided the opportunity for potential fruitful connections. The sense of community and of being supported” were also appreciated.

(I suspect the funky range of seating options at the Hub is another factor in what appeals to members. There’s also a very popular hammock option!)

If you have a positive coworking story share it via Twitter @CoworkingisCool, and visit my Pinterest Coworking Is Cool board for some images of cool coworking spaces.

Enjoy.

Cheers, Jane Deany

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