What is Coworking?
What is coworking? Thanks to the changing nature of business and the COVID-19 pandemic, the last decade has seen a huge rise in popularity of coworking spaces and the advent of remote work enthusiasm. To quote Wikipedia, “coworking is an arrangement in which workers of different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructure, such as equipment, utilities and receptionist services.” But I’m sure you’ve always been told not to trust things you read on Wikipedia or to take them at face value. So, while this isn’t exactly an inaccurate description, it doesn’t quite do justice to the intricacies and eccentricities of the coworking world and what it has to offer. We’ve decided to give you our best breakdown of what coworking means to us, how it works and how it’s evolved.
The convenience of coworking
Let’s start with the basics. Yes, it’s true, coworking spaces are a really great way to make use of communal equipment and amenities. This is especially beneficial when considering convenience and cost. Coworking spaces provide a central location at which a range of workers and companies can establish a base. With the constant growth of the coworking phenomenon, it is likely you’ll have the choice of a number of spaces in your area and will be able to decide on one that strikes a good balance between distance from home and proximity to other businesses. The other convenience is the flexibility these spaces provide. You get all the perks of a traditional office set-up without the need to sign a long-term lease or commit yourself to a single kind of workspace. This, of course, is also great when considering costs. Because much of the infrastructure you might need is shared and readily available for your use in a coworking space, there is no need for you to invest in expensive equipment, leaving you more money to pour into your business instead. You can switch it up between hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices and meeting rooms, depending on your needs on a day-to-day basis. It really is a brilliant way to ensure variety, helping you to stay fully engaged with your work.
The coworking community
Okay, now we’ve covered the major practical aspects, let’s get into what coworking means to us and why it’s so much more than just the use of an office space. It’s really a community of diverse, dynamic and hard-working professionals working side by side. It’s the perfect place for networking, forming collaborations and seeking advice, opinions and mentorship. And even if you prefer to work alone, there’s still the opportunity to make friends over your morning coffee. Imagine working from home or in a traditional office – your network would probably be limited to mostly like-minded people doing similar work. And while there’s nothing wrong with a comfort zone or knowing what you like and sticking to it, we believe there’s immeasurable value in working alongside people with different talents, interests and goals. It’s the surest way to foster productivity, creativity and investment in the work that you do. You may even be keen to check out one of these spaces that allows access to a specific kind of community, as some of them can be industry-specific. Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business or a larger company, you really can’t go wrong. You can say goodbye to feeling lonely or lacking in motivation or inspiration – the buzz you’ll feel in a coworking space is like no other.
“Coworking” or “co-working”?
This brings us to the word “coworking” itself. Note the lack of a hyphen? It’s not just an attempt to rile up all the grammar Nazis in our midst – it’s an intentional omission. You see, the term “co-worker” is generally used in the traditional sense, referring to any other person you work with ie., a fellow worker. And that’s not what we’re about. We don’t want to be merely a space in which people work next to each other, perhaps exchanging the occasional obligatory pleasantry, before escaping home at the end of each day. We’re so much more than that, and the word “coworking” helps to distinguish our voice and creates a unified brand for the movement. That way, we establish coworking spaces as legitimate and often better places to work, for businesses and individuals alike.
Coworking has had major success over the past few years, and many famous companies had their initial lightbulb moments in a coworking space. San Francisco, in particular, has been at the heart of the movement, with one of the first coworking spaces being opened there by Brad Neuberg back in 2005. Subsequently, in an effort to solve the taxicab crisis the city was facing, Uber was born in a coworking space, growing quickly and still going strong. This was soon followed by Instagram. And with coworking spaces popping up all over the place these days, who knows what will be next? Maybe you have an amazing brainchild you’re just itching to release into the world…and that could be the next big thing.
So, there you have it – coworking in a nutshell. Well, maybe slightly more than a nutshell but we couldn’t stop at just one measly paragraph for this movement and community we love so much. Hopefully we’ve convinced you to love it too – the reasons to use a coworking space really are endless. And if you’ve never been to a coworking space before, what are you waiting for? Come and join us at Roam Work on Harrington Street in the Cape Town CBD and see for yourself just how great it really is.