When it comes to coworking, there are various opinions out there. There are those who love it and swear by it, those who are skeptical about it, those who don’t understand it, and many more in between.
However, fact remains that coworking has enabled a revolutionary change in the way people work and the way we design workspaces. Though a few years ago many would have argued that coworking was merely a ‘fad’ that was bound to disappear, it’s become evident that coworking is much more than that.
This is clear in the way coworking in and out of itself has evolved and how it’s attracting large businesses into the mix.
In the below article, Kristin Donaldson, Marketing Associate at Work Better, delves a little into the history of coworking, why it feels like such a familiar and nostalgic concept, why coworking really is much more than a buzzword, and where she sees the future of coworking going.
This article was written by Kristin Donaldson and was originally published in Work Better’s blog.
The History: Breakdown
From the factories of the Industrial Revolution, to the cubicles of the 1980’s and the ping pong tables in the board rooms of modern day startups, the workplace has been ever evolving. However, if we focus our attention on the “coworking revolution,” when and how did this all happen?
According to DeskMag, the concept as we know it today popped up in 1995 in Berlin with Hackerspace; the term “coworking” was coined shortly thereafter by DeKoven in 1999. It wasn’t until 2005, though, that the first official coworking space opened in San Francisco and soon after “coworking” popped up as a trending term in the Google Database.
Work Better opened its first location in 2003 under the shared office concept. This was before coworking was even a hot topic.
From the first coworking spaces to the more recent hybrid models, we can see today that coworking has truly turned into an entire industry of makers and dreamers.
“Working independently, yet together”
So, why does coworking still seem to be so new and yet somehow nostalgic and familiar?
I first started working in a coworking space in 2012, back when many people just “didn’t get it.” I recall the weird nostalgic feeling when working at a communal desk seated beside programmers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners.
If this was such a new concept, why did it feel so familiar?
The answer? College and school libraries.
Throughout high school and college, I spent countless hours working out of public and school libraries at these same communal tables, in a very similar setting. In school, we were all piled on top of one another working on completely different projects, yet often saw a familiar face or could take a break to chat with another student with a completely different major.
In truth, this type of work environment has been around since far before 1995, but it has just been neatly packaged and marketed as the “newest and greatest” thing recently. In fact, society has been “coworking” for a very long time. The only thing that has changed is that we have, finally, just now figured out a way to package the concept.