From Hashtags to meet-ups.
#Coworking, #Community, #Innovation, #Dowhatyoulove & #Futureofwork. The list is endless. At the start of every new fad there is a lot of hype. But isn’t it time to discard the fad label for coworking? Coworking as a viable concept has been proven for years to not only be a profitable business but perhaps, and more importantly, a multiplier for creatives and competitive companies alike (find more on that at www.deskmag.com). The data shows people are happier, healthier and more financially successful when they develop communities and work with like-minded individuals and teams. Major metropolitan areas that classify themselves as serious entrepreneurial, SMB or startup cities now have a healthy number of coworking spaces for people to choose from. The coworking ecosystem is still growing. In fact, it grew 30% in 2016 alone.
Over the last 6-12 months I’ve noticed that coworking isn’t considered to be the crazy thing Americans do any more. People have been searching for a development in the workplace for years and finally the tipping point is being reached. Europe has increasingly become a coworking haven, working communities are leaving the central business districts and coworking spaces are starting to work with each other to continually stimulate this rapidly growing market. Here are some other things I’ve been noticing over the last few months:
- Employees numbers in coworking spaces are starting to catch up with freelancer numbers in many cities
- Space locations are getting closer to home and moving away from the business districts
- The average age of coworkers is getting younger but they remain creative
After the dust settles, what happens to those buzzwords?
More people than ever are in touch with their needs and want to innovate what they do. In today’s hyper competitive environment, the real revolution can be found deep in the official coworking values and manifesto. When I started my space, Shhared, over two years ago, many spaces didn’t want to talk to me at all, which I found ridiculous. ‘Together we can achieve more’ is a phrase I’ve heard thousands of times in my personal and professional life. I’m proud to say that after sticking to my guns for so long, today most of the spaces in Hamburg make time to meet up at least once a month to share ideas, best practices, create joint projects, and have a drink together. Not only are we closer, we’ve also delivered on some great ideas that serve our market well. We’ve put our differences aside to focus on our commonalities.
The great thing about making progress is that people like success stories and they spread quickly. In Hamburg we did a founder’s day event with the city’s authorities, made our own coworking events platform and held the city’s first coworking bus tour. Since then, news of our endeavours has encouraged others elsewhere to not just look into the core values and virtues of coworking but to live them. Being open attracts connections which is the foundation for making authentic and strong communities. Over the last few weeks and months, Shhared has started to be contacted by larger companies for collaborations and I’m personally taking more of an active role in the European coworking scene, which is both fun and useful. In the end, all those buzzwords from the beginning of the article will diminish in usage and regain their meaning.
The Next Chapter
The next step in coworking will be the age of consolidation. The largest investors will support the biggest workspace players. Small and medium sized spaces will work closer together for the betterment of the users, community sustainability will become a focus, members will take the responsibility to grow their communities, and people will find it easier to leverage the potential and relationships around them.
Remember that recession we’ve been in, well this is the start of the next economic boom. The exponential growth in space openings will decline but the collaboration inside spaces and between them will lead to better times for coworker’s projects and coworking spaces as viable and sustainable businesses.