Since office cubicles are getting smaller, home office distractions are becoming greater, and coffee shops seem dimmer than usual, people are on the lookout for collaborative communities that will help them excel on their own terms. Although coworking is a relatively new phenomenon, when we look at its rapid progression overtime, there’s a lot of ground to cover. Technically, coworking is a business model where professionals from one or many different companies and businesses work independently or collaboratively in a shared office space. It refers to a collaborative environment inclusive of a big space, high-speed WiFi, an ample supply of coffee and an amalgamation of new ideas and technologies. So how and when exactly did this revolutionary idea take place?
San Francisco is responsible for most innovative ideas in the world. It’s not surprising then that the first coworking space was created in San Francisco way back in 2005. Creativity, innovation, and ideas came together from near and far and in doing so formed the San Francisco Coworking Space at Spiral Muse. With the amount of success it has received today, it’s almost surprising to learn that the idea didn’t take off with a bang at the beginning. Although founder Brad Neuberg expected a massive inflow of professionals looking for flexible workplace alternatives, very few actually did. However, he believed in his idea so much that he actually began persuading the people who would come in for a look to absorb the concept and take it with them to spread it far and wide. Unlike many entrepreneurs, he did not feel threatened by others “stealing” his plans at all. In fact, he had decided that this was to be one of the best ways to shed publicity on what coworking is all about to begin with. As a result of his confidence, he eventually got other passionate and like-minded people to generate buzz through an online community, which in turn lead to the opening of a second and larger coworking space called The Hat Factory.
One of the almost 30 coworking spaces in the world at the time, The Hat Factory was the result of a lot of hard work and enthusiasm by a few volunteers including Neuberg. It offered the same concept as Spiral Muse in terms of a community space for people to come together to innovate, participate, and when the time came, celebrate success. 2006 was also the year “Jellies” were introduced to the public. Initially operational in New York City, these collaborative meet-ups consisted of a small group of people coming together to work in a casual atmosphere in which like-minded professionals could exchange ideas without incurring any costs or solidifying long-term contracts. Using the same concept, when Berlin announced the opening of one of the world’s largest coworking spaces, independent workers and startups rejoiced since now they had a place to bounce off ideas not only within their company but with perfect strangers who happened to work in the same profession.
One big addition during this time was the inclusion of childcare in a coworking space. Even though parents started working from home or were self-employed, they still needed to consciously think about child care in order to maintain focus during their work hours. Keeping this mind, a coworking space in Menlo Park, which already offered the usual connectivity, office equipment, and conference rooms, began including facilities for kids. So now freelancers and entrepreneurs could not only enjoy the flexibility of working hours and minimal commute time but also enjoy reliable childcare within their working environment.
You know something is a big deal when there is an entire day in commemoration of it. August 9, 2010 marked the first ever Coworking Day, reiterating the fact that we now have the ability to not only choose from where we work and who we work with but also how long we work for.
According to Deskmag, an online magazine about coworking spaces, where in 2010 there were approximately 600 coworking spaces, by 2012 the number passed the 2000 mark. This further proves the point that an increasing number of individuals were looking for opportunities to maximize their lifestyle choices. Working professionals no longer wanted to sacrifice precious time spent with family by wasting it on commuting. Freelancers and part-timers desired to be surrounded by like-minded individuals in order to diminish their social isolation. Potential entrepreneurs hoped to expand their networking associations even before they had become fully operational. All of this and more was accomplished with shared office spaces becoming the norm rather than the exception.
The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) celebrated its 3rd edition in Kansas City, USA where speakers and panels identified popular industry trends and offered a variety of valuable and reliable content to help owners and operators run successful coworking spaces around the world. At this innovative event, both coworking veterans and rookies combined their experiences and ideas to build future communities of like-minded people, where entrepreneurship would become less lonely and connectivity between members would increase the chances of success while collectively keeping failure at bay.
In 2018, the UAE became introduced to the concept of coworking spaces (the first one being focused on sport, fitness, and wellness) and hasn’t looked back ever since. Aspiring entrepreneurs, multi-tasking freelancers, and digital nomads now started looking beyond their four-walled spaces towards creative, collaborative platforms that were designed keeping the new generation in mind. As the years have progressed, coworking communities have transformed from simple and bare warehouse lofts to architecturally appealing and environmentally-friendly spaces. Think massive design features, comfortable cinema screening rooms, and even faux grass walls, because, why not?
As coworking spaces are making their mark across thousands of urban landscapes around the world, the UAE in general, and Dubai in particular, is getting in on the action as well. In addition to perks like gym space, conference rooms, and free-flowing coffee and tea, coworking hubs today are now beginning to add workshops, courses, and interactive events for the taking as well. Whether you are an embarking entrepreneur or a veteran freelancer, you can now choose from several different kinds of collaborative spaces, each one offering a slightly varied work environment from the other whether in terms of its membership, its facilities, its guidebook or its taste in coffee. Get your entrepreneurial juices flowing as you turn your start-up dreams into success stories with the help of like-minded individuals.
Parting ways with traditional work environments, more and more people across the globe are looking for shared office spaces that can combine flexibility with productivity and social community with connectivity. Initially, coworking spaces began with the mindset of offering innovative hubs complete with high-speed WiFi and good coffee. Over the years, these collaborative spaces have grown leaps and bounds to include conference rooms, gym equipment, and even childcare facilities to freelancers, part-time professionals, and budding entrepreneurs.