The birth & evolution of co-working concept and how it is helping companies rethink their work style and their culture

The digital industry has been evolving rapidly, together with the tools and mediums needed to get things done. However, this change was not reflected in the digital company’s workspaces – only recently, through the concept of co-working and the startup mindset the companies are rethinking their spaces, and aligning it with the new digital communication patterns.[1]

We can discuss the co-working concept on 2 levels: as style of work that involves a shared working space but each person has their own individual activity, and as a working culture introduced in big and small companies. Let’s take a closer look at how this concept originated and how it is evolving.


Co-working – The Evolution

The co-working concept was created back in 2005 by Brad Neuberg, IT engineer in San Francisco. The idea was born as a solution to his discontent regarding the different working context as an employee but also as a freelance. In his own words: “…I was confused because I had both worked for myself and worked at a job and was unhappy because I couldn’t seem to combine all the things I wanted at the same time: the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others.” In this period Brad was working with a Life Coach that helped him figure out the goal he needed to set in life, and they came up with this plan: work of different projects within a dedicated space that supports the likeminded people, creating eventually a real community. The name he chose for this project was: co-working.

The first co-working space was San Francisco Co-working Space at Spiral Muse, a well-being center that shows that the original concept was to introduce the perfect work-life balance into daily activities. After the Spiral Muse, the famous San Francisco Hat Factory space opened, followed by numerous other co-working spaces in the USA and globally. One of the factors that influenced this growth is the increase in the so called “nomadic” digital entrepreneurs who do not have a fixed office space and who travel a lot, making a co-working space an ideal temporary habitat.

Today there are 1100 co-working spaces in 92 countries all over the world, with 54,391 chairs available, according to the Global Co-Working Map. Still, the concept is struggling for legitimacy because it is often perceived as a “trend” or a “movement.”[2] In the words of Jeremy Neuner, cofounder of NextSpace, “co-working has earned the right to be called an industry. Sure, that word “industry” has some negative connotations, but I think it also lends a sense of credibility to the idea of co-working. Customers gather around industries. Investors invest in industries. Ecosystems develop around industries. And industries re-shape and re-order societies. Co-working is doing all of these things and needs to be taken seriously as an industry.”

For those with adventurous spirit, co-working can be found in the least expected places: CoBoat – a fully equipped catamaran sailing all over the globe, offering a unique co-working experience.


The Future of Work

The companies are already on the path of the change as walls are being torn down and cubicles are about to get extinct – the future of the office space will surely include open spaces that allow easy networking and sharing, removing boundaries between people and teams and providing a positive impact on the performance, creativity and efficiency.

Part of the merit must go the co-working concept that actually introduced the “collisions” – unplanned encounters and interactions between knowledge workers, within a company and outside, that very often produce great ideas and function as a motivator, as confirmed by a recent Harvard Business Review report that focuses on the benefits of getting employees to “collide”. [3]

Another important aspect that co-working gave to companies is rethinking to relationships with work itself and among colleagues, allowing a more intentional and collaborative approach. It also thought many people to treat their co-workers as collaborators and not competitors, allowing the entire team to reach the common goal more easily.

Here in Neomobile we have embraced this concept, with our HQ and our offices worldwide designed to empower the collaborative and creative community of like-minded professionals, and allow the perfect conditions for a productive and creative workdays. From the architectural point of view this has been achieved with large open spaces, glass walls, numerous meeting rooms, and big relax area.

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