excerpt from the upcoming book ‘Without Office’ by E. Mironichev
Coworking is redefining the way we do work. Inspired by the participatory culture of the open-source
movement and the empowering nature of IT, we are building a more sustainable future.
– CoWorking Manifesto
Coworking is an integral part of the sharing economy and is a compromise between working at home and
the traditional office. As a phenomenon, co-working first emerged in San Francisco back in 2005 in a
coworking space called Citizen Space. Of course, even before the appearance of coworking, anyone
could rent space in a friend’s office. But as the number of people working in coworking spaces grew,
coworking itself evolved into a separate industry. If the first office of Google and Apple was a garage,
today’s companies are born in coworking spaces. For example, the first version of Instagram was created
by two programmers working in the coworking space known as Dogpatch Labs in 2010.
Coworking (from the word co-work — to work together) is, as a rule, an “open space” without separate
offices, and only one large room with workspaces. For an additional fee, you can rent a conference room
with equipment for presentations or a room for private negotiations.
Programmers, designers, various freelancers, entrepreneurs, startup founders, and sometimes even large
companies work alongside each other. For example, at WeWork you’ll find employees of such companies as
Facebook, InBev, The Guardian, SoundCloud, KPMG, Visa, IBM. A typical picture: on one side of the
space, a small group of entrepreneurs is sitting around, discussing a new trend, and across the room, an
Excel marketer is engaged in data analysis, while nearby a designer wearing headphones is creating
a character for a game.
“Unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces are occupied by people who work for a range of different
companies, ventures, and projects. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t
feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can
also make one’s own work identity stronger,” notes researchers from the Harvard Business Review their
study “Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces”. Sometimes, workers from large companies make a
point of working at coworking spaces from time to time, just because it “recharges” them. Mark
Gallagher, the senior market manager at Silicon Valley Bank, told the Financial Times that he specifically
visits WeWork because it “gives me access to different conversations and makes me feel like an
entrepreneur rather than a banker.” Not surprisingly, according to a survey, almost half of the respondents
found business partners through coworking.
Coworking spaces are often created out of traditional offices. For example, in Amherst Massachusetts,
population 38,000, a coworking space was created in the former bank building. And to attract millennials,
Capital One launched a network of Capital One Cafés, including more than a dozen cafes where users can
work even without being a customer of the bank.
Coworking spaces might be rented out on an hourly, daily, or monthly basis. At the Workshop Cafe, the
first 10 hours are free of charge, and then each hour costs $3. And the global WeWork network lets users
rent a workplace in any of more than 50 locations in 12 countries after the user pays a subscription fee
starting at $45 per month.
There are completely free co-working spaces. For example, the Amazon Coworking company in San
Francisco, where registration and work from 9 to 5 pm on working days is free, as well as the use of a free
mini-kitchen with drinks, sweets, coffee, and water. Amazon is the sponsor and owner of three such
coworking spaces – in San Francisco, New York, and Berlin, and regularly conducts training on its cloud
services. And some companies have even begun creating the semblance of coworking spaces in their
existing offices. For example, Menlo Innovations (California ) lets entrepreneurs use their office, because,
as CEO Richard Sheridan explained in an interview with the Financial Times, “This is not about money
[…] More important is the intangible benefit of being around like-minded, energized entrepreneurs who
brought in perspectives and ideas that would not occur naturally if it was just us”.
But there is one drawback to coworking spaces: usually, sleeping is not allowed.
– Coworking is an office “for an hour” and without long-term obligations.
– Finding and communicating with people who are close in spirit at coworking spaces increases
performance and productivity, and helps you stay on top of important trends.