Coworking has been around for a while now and it may seem to have bit of a hipster look from the outside. Funky city warehouses with yarn-bombed stair rails and herbal teas strewn around the kitchen. So is coworking any more than just a fad?
Why coworking ISN’T a fad:
Behind the trendy look, there are serious forces driving coworking – forces that indicate it’s increasingly becoming a functional necessity in the 21st century.
- Casualisation of the workforce. Businesses are rapidly outsourcing work as they realise the benefits of the on-demand economy – putting people who used to be employees into contracting roles. This can force some ordinarily social workers into home or remote based situations which can cause loneliness and isolation.
- Hot desking and telecommuting. There’s an increasing trend for businesses to move workers out of their offices and encourage them to work from home. Employees may spend less time commuting – but working from home may not increase their productivity as expected (though it can sometimes get a bit more housework done.)
- Online business and eCommerce. There’s an increasing number of people making money online – selling everything from services (their time) to balls of yarn, vintage clothes and motorcycles on their own websites and/or commercial platforms like Amazon, Shopify and eBay.
- Technology advances. Broadband, cloud applications and affordable digital devices mean that teleworkers can now be fully mobile and able to do their whole job, not just a limited subset of work.
- Humans are social animals. While there are some who work best in a quiet, isolated office – the majority of us become far more productive when we’re around other people who are also working. The most valuable working conversations also often happen in the cafeteria and around the water cooler – coworking makes them not only feasible but frequent! It even has a name for them: ‘Serendipitous Happenings’.
- The web has enabled us to now choose our own tribe, not just accept what’s close by. In the old days, this used to default to the people we worked beside or groups that were in the same suburb. Coworking allows us to choose a community and office aligned with our full selves, not just our work persona. The people we work with inspire us and push us to be better.
Would coworking make your work better?
If you’re a freelancer, a telecommuter or an online entrepreneur, it’s worth exploring. For the same sort of money you’d spend on lunch and coffee by yourself at the local cafe a few days per week, you could be part of a community that lifts you up and pushes you forward.