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Coworking Explained & How To Make It Work for You

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This is a guest article contributed by Jessie Brown.

Coworking has been in vogue for a few years now and is becoming increasingly popular amongst freelancers around the world. But what is it exactly and how can you make it work for you?

Big Table Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Well, in short coworking enables anyone who is working independently to work with others in a shared office space, without the hassle of having to sign a rental contract or pay utility bills. Typical coworkers may include freelance writers, web designers, entrepreneurs and small start-ups, especially those looking to collaborate.

Coworking spaces have sprung up in cities all over the world and can vary from tiny independent set-ups with a few desks, to large chains such as The Hub and Nextspace that cater for many people and also hold major events and workshops.

Flexibility & Progressive Work Culture

Each coworking space has a range of plans that allow for maximum flexibility, so you’re able to rent a space from a few hours to a few weeks, to more permanently depending on your work situation.

What sets coworking apart from simply renting a desk or sitting in a coffee shop to work, is the progressive work culture that has emerged from these spaces. As many coworking spaces are geared towards a particular type of industry such as the tech or creative industries, a kind of synergy is fostered between those sharing the space. Everyone may be working on their own independent projects yet they are still generally within one industry that encompasses them all.

Flexible Desk Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Flexible Desk Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Advantages of Coworking

Access to Community & Networking

For freelancers coworking spaces have numerous benefits, perhaps the most significant of which is that they instantly provide a supportive community of fellow freelancers and like-minded people. There’s always plenty of scope for networking and collaboration on projects between coworkers, and it’s the kind which comes naturally – no forced networking or awkward approaches necessary.

Improves Your Skillset

Coworking can also give freelancers the option to update their knowledge and skillset. This idea-sharing, along with the option to bounce thoughts off those willing to give a fresh perspective, can in turn lead to a sometimes much needed confidence boost.

Increases Social Activity

As well as the possibility of collaboration, coworking spaces are a great way to alleviate the loneliness that sometimes goes hand in hand with freelancing. As much as home-working has a certain appeal, the social isolation that it entails can be detrimental to working well. Coworking offers all of the social aspects of an office without the stress of feeling obliged to interact with people as you would have to in a traditional office. Many coworking spaces also hold social events and workshops so the opportunity to get to know your fellow freelancers is even easier.

Auditorium Mobilesuite Coworking

Auditorium Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Easier on the Pocket & Reduced Travel Time

Add to this of course, the financial benefit of coworking as opposed to renting your own office. There’s no need to worry about utility bills or buying equipment like photocopiers and printers as these are all usually included in the all-in-one price. Should a freelancer be meeting clients, many coworking spaces also have conference rooms available to be booked. Furthermore coworkers are able to choose a coworking space nearby to where they live and therefore reduce the cost, time and stress involved in commuting.

Easy to Join & Set Up Anywhere

Finally, for freelancers that travel a lot or have the urge to give working abroad a go, coworking spaces are an excellent way to instantly set yourself up in a new city, build a network and make friends. In a world where many are now seeking less location-dependent work and more flexibility, coworking is an innovative and progressive way of aiding in this.

Some of the Best Coworking spaces:

Mobilesuite – Berlin

Berlin has long been a creative hub but is now also currently one of the hotspots for the European start-up scene. As a result, a host of coworking spaces have sprung up in the city including this friendly and relaxed space which has been in existence since 2011 in the heart of Prenzlauer Berg in former east Berlin.

High Chairs Mobilesuite Coworking Space

High Chairs Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Lounge Mobilesuite Coworking Space

Lounge Mobilesuite Coworking Space

TechHub – London

Based in two locations in London with plans for a third to open this year, TechHub is a coworking space designed for those working specifically in the tech industries to set up shop. Industry events, workshops and social events all take place frequently making it an excellent place to foster potential collaborations.

Grind – New York City

Grind is an invitation-only coworking space in the heart of Manhattan. Members are described by the founder of the space as “free radicals”, people who like to work outside the system and are constantly collaborating. This space is at the forefront of coworking technology with features such as automatic check-in when a member simply opens their laptop.

See here for more NYC coworking spaces.

Citizen Space – San Francisco

Located in the booming SOMA district, Citizen Space is a coworking space that thrives on the idea of openness and innovation. Home to numerous startups, web developers and writers amongst others, Citizen Space also plays host to a number of professional development events including startup meet-ups and launch parties.

The Thinking Hut – Amsterdam

“The Thinking Hut is a new and fresh creative co-working space in Amsterdam. These 270sqm once filled with horses have been renovated to re-open doors to a collaborative work environment where different people (entrepreneurs, freelancers, zzp-ers, designers, writers, web developers, marketing minds, account and project managers, …) can feel comfortable working on their own projects, while having the possibility of sharing, engaging and in essence, creating together with others.”

Do you work in a coworking space? Have any others to share?

*Jessie Brown is a Berlin-based freelance writer who regularly contributes to hungryhouse, the UK’s leading platform for takeaway food in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

26 JUST™ Creative Comments

  • Bianca Woods

    If you’re looking for a great coworking space in Toronto, Canada, you should definitely take a peek at Camaraderie Coworking – http://camaraderie.ca/

  • Dom Mitchell

    Great post. Here is a cool shared office space in Stockholm: http://www.odengatan86.se!

  • Rico

    The point is to find the right space while the number doubles every year. Here are the new numbers from deskwanted http://blog.deskwanted.com/2013/02/press-release-new-study-reveals-coworking-boom-worldwide/

  • Ngaire

    Nice post! I share a co-working space in London and it is great to be surrounded by people even if your colleague is on the other side of the world. When looking for co-working space I found a lot of spaces were hot-desks where you didn’t have a set space to work every day, while this may appeal to some I preferred a co-working space where I didn’t need to set up everything every day, so that is worth considering when choosing a space. There is still lots going on so its not lonely and you have your own area to settle down and work.

  • Sandeep Ramje

    Hey Jacob nice post again, its very informative, Although in India I don’t think it exist but the big question that always comes in my mind is how the owner of space earn from this. Does they charge something as a rent or membership or something else, then what about the other expenses like electricity, internet bill etc? I am quite impress with this working system as it gives more freedom to individual to work without any hassle.

    • Jacob Cass

      Hi Sandeep,
      I am unaware of the situation in India, however I would be surprised if there is not something similar. If there isn’t, then there is great opportunity there! There is usually a membership / rate plan which covers the bills.

  • Robert Petrusz

    In Durham, NC, Bull City Coworking has doubled in its first year of operations. A great crowd of smart members makes it an inspiring place to work!

  • Cassidy NB

    Great survey of the coworking concept and some interesting spaces. Thought I’d share San Diego’s most vibrant and professional coworking space, Co-Merge Workplace. If you are ever in Southern California it is worth stopping by!


  • Stephen Judd

    I’m part of group of folks experimenting with setting up a virtual coworking space in Second Life. The hope is that we could foster some of the same networking, sociality, and serendipity for people not able to access a physical coworking space.

    So far, we’ve been having coworking Fridays – I’ll enter Second Life, go to the coworking space, and leave it running while I do my normal work (mostly coding.) Occasionally other stop in and we’ll talk about what we’re working on, ask for advice, etc.

    We also have a small Google+ community for those interested in the concept (https://plus.google.com/communities/113869913695536455347)

  • Cai Simpson

    Nice article, as a designer looking for a job in the UK this was interesting to read. It has given me some good tips for when I eventually grab that design job. Thanks!

  • rajib

    Co working space is a lunching pad for start ups as It not only addresses the basic amenities but also facilitates a great platform to foster innovation culture . One such co working space that I have come across in Bangalore is called Bangalore alpha lab.

    Bangalore Alpha Lab (BAL) is the cool co-working space in Bangalore with very affordable price.

    BAL provides Conference Room facility, Storage Facility & Virtual Member (virtual mail box) and more ever Shared Resources like web designer & web developers(PHP, HTML5, CSS 3) exclusively for startup companies in a most economical price.

    There are so many other facilities for the startups to leverage and bring out a cost effective & seamless hassle free environment where the entrepreneurs can focus on business than operational.

    BAL is very active on facebook Bangalore Alpha Lab – A Launchpad For Your Startup

    Visit BAL any day between 10AM till 8PM..

  • Lionell David

    This article about Coworking very useful to our employees, Thanks for Sharing … I will follow your blog futures..

  • Talitha Krauss

    There are so many other facilities for the startups to leverage and bring out a cost effective & seamless hassle free environment where the entrepreneurs can focus on business than operational.

  • Charles Borg

    I must say that coworking really increases social activity as you get to interact with fellow workers in one hub. This is a very innovative approach to working.

  • Stationery Design

    The finest thing about coworking is that you can get couple of ideas for a single task, from whom you can select the most excellent idea, or you may combine two or more ideas to get perfect one. Also working alone will makes you alone, this may have terrible effect on your health. While coworking makes you social, as mentioned above.

  • Mitzie Orta

    So far, we’ve been having coworking Fridays – I’ll enter Second Life, go to the coworking space, and leave it running while I do my normal work (mostly coding.) Occasionally other stop in and we’ll talk about what we’re working on, ask for advice, etc.

  • Troy Espino

    I must say that coworking really increases social activity as you get to interact with fellow workers in one hub. This is a very innovative approach to working.

  • Nancy Gonzalez

    As a Director of a coworking space – SoTechie Spaces, I have to agree with all of the above… coworking improves every aspect of the work experience. Since my exposure to the great startups in our community, I feel more creative and more productive!

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