The Coworking Experience: In the Beginning


DeskMag recently put together an impressive timeline that traces the beginnings of the coworking phenomenon and provides some juicy details and interesting side facts along the way.

Here are a few of them that we found interesting:

1995: The precursor to today’s coworking spaces emerged in the form of Berlin’s C-base. C-base was one of the first ‘hackerspaces’, a freeform sort of coworking operation, geared towards computers and technology, which encouraged people to come and take advantage of its free public internet access via its WiFi network.

2000: The term “coworking” was officially coined by Bernard DeKoven, a computer game pioneer, as “a way to identify a method that would facilitate collaborative work and business meetings coordinated by computers”.

2006: A big year, ushering in the official first “coworking space” in San Francisco, launched by Brad Neuberg in reaction to what he felt were “unsocial” business centers and the unproductive work life at a home based office. The space operated as a non-profit, offering clients between five and eight desks two days per week, along with free WiFi, meditation breaks, massages and lots of other enticing amenities. The space lasted about a year and was finally replaced by The Hat Factory, also owned by Neuberg. By then there were about 30 official coworking spaces running worldwide, including the first Hub coworking space in London, and the St. Oberholz, one of the first internet cafes to open in Berlin. Today the St. Oberholz provides a full coworking space above the café.

It was also during this time that we began seeing the first “jellies” spring up; small groups of people coming together to collaborate in a casual atmosphere. Many early jellies ultimately developed into full-fledged coworking spaces.

2007: The search term “coworking” was first recognized as a trend in Google’s database. Twitter celebrated the phenomenon with the first #CoworkingDay, in honor of the actual first coworking day which occurred five years earlier.

2012: By October, there were more than 2,000 coworking spaces worldwide.

2013: By July, the 3,000th coworking space opened.

As for all the openings and other pivotal events in between, you will need to read DeskMag’s timeline for the details.

Taking this tour down memory lane begs the question as to what will happen next. What do the next ten years have in store for coworking spaces? Will they continue to develop, grow and prosper? Will they gradually morph into an entirely new format that bears little resemblance to the coworking space of today? Time (and DeskMag’s Timeline) will tell.

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Coworking – image via Desk Union

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