What is Coworking?

Some members of Seattle’s coworking community Office Nomads mingle with Xpats during a cross-Sound field trip

From the coworking wiki:Coworking is redefining the way we do work. The idea is simple: that independent professionals and those with workplace flexibility work better together than they do alone. Coworking answers the question that so many face when working from home: “Why isn’t this as fun as I thought it would be?” Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces agree to uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility. Read all about it on this wiki or via the Coworking Google Group

Conveniently, DESKMAG does yearly global coworking surveys. We’ve sampled from a few articles.

Why people use coworking, from a March 2011 article from DESKMAG:

“Most coworkers are freelancers who enjoy their independence. They are looking for a way out of their isolation and are seeking communication with others. However, for a longer lasting membership they nonetheless need to be convinced by all the other benefits of coworking, such as making new contacts, starting new projects, and finding mutual support.”

“Some people make use of their membership in a community to make contacts and find support even when they don’t need desk space! Many coworking spaces offer regular workshops and networking opportunities, and establish themselves as a center of community events.”

Why coworkers like their coworking spaces, from a Dec, 2010 article from DESKMAG:

“It seems a large majority of coworkers are very satisfied with their coworking space. Seventy percent of all coworkers said they were very happy with their desk in their coworking space. A quarter found their coworking space to be okay, while only 8% of respondents were disappointed by their community based office.”

A meet-up and discussion about marketing and branding

“The positive results stem from the real advantages offered by coworking spaces. Most respondents said they are more motivated (85%) and have better interaction with other people (88%) since they moved into a coworking space. Almost half now work in teams more often (57%).”

“More than half organize their working day better so they can relax more at home (both 60%). At least 42% of all coworkers also report earning a higher income since joining a coworking space, and only 5% suffer from a loss of income.”

The coworker’s profile, from the 1st Global Coworking Survey published in DESKMAG:

“Most coworkers are in their mid twenties to late thirties, with an average age of 34. Two-thirds are men, one third are women. The same ratio of men to women is generally found in the wider entrepreneurial and small business statistics across Europe and the U.S.”

“Slightly more than half of all coworkers are freelancers (54%). Almost 20% are entrepreneurs who employ others. Similarly, one in five work as a permanent employee, most of them in very small companies with less than five workers. And four in five coworkers start their career with a university education. [From profiling coworkers in the United States: “Larger companies are starting to experiment with coworking, and this data reflects growing corporate awareness of coworking as a work option. This is consistent with previous research done by Emergent Research.”]

“By attending a coworking space, many individuals report making new acquaintance who have had a positive effect on their own work. Within the last two months, 43% of survey respondents reported meeting one to three helpful acquaintances, while another 43% have found four or more such connections.”

And how is it different from an Internet café? An internet connection is of course essential. Quiet is good, but not too quiet. It’s also sometimes necessary to use a printer, copier, or a meeting room, and very nice to have access to a break room and kitchenette. But what really draws people to coworking—and encourages them to stay— is not the infrastructure, but the atmosphere, and the ability to collaborate and interact with other independent workers. It’s your community-based office.

Coworking on Bainbridge Island will take on an identity of its own, and many members may join primarily for the purpose of reserving conference rooms to meet with clients. So we don’t expect to reflect the national or global trends of coworking exactly. But it is exciting to know that we are a part of an exploding trend!

Some great resources for learning more:

Some other Puget Sound coworking spaces:
(the Coworking Wiki has the full list)