Coworking is a method of collaborative working for independent professionals which provides them with a comfortable and professional space in which to work, along with the companionship of like-minded people. Many independent contractors and traveling professionals work in hotels, cafes, and other less than ideal spots, and coworking is designed to address this by creating a space specifically for people who prefer to work nomadically. Coworking spaces can be found in many major cities around the world, and more are constantly opening.
With the rise of the technology industry in the 1990s, a number of workers became nomads, eschewing the traditional office environment for more flexible hours, schedules, and jobs at home. However, many people feel very isolated at home, and so these nomadic workers began to find spaces in cafes, libraries, and other public spots to work, to prevent isolation and in the hopes of meeting fellow independent professionals. However, these spots are not always ideal, especially for client meetings, and the concept of coworking arose.
A coworking space is typically quite large and very flexible. It may include conventional offices and conference rooms, along with a large public area where people can work and network with each other. People pay fees on a sliding scale to use the space, depending on how they use it, and in some cases, people may use the common area for free. Drop-ins are usually welcome.
The people in a coworking space are often quite diverse. It is possible to see web developers and other people involved in the technology industry along with people in other industries who have chosen to work outside the office. Many writers also take advantage of coworking spaces.
Working in shared space has a number of advantages. For example, people can bounce ideas off each other and easily collaborate on projects. The shared costs also makes office space much less expensive, allowing people to create a space where they can meet with clients in a professional way. Coworking also provides a sort of “cafe culture,” promoting intellectual exchange, friendships with other people in often isolated industries, and fellowship.
Not much is needed to start a coworking space, and in smaller communities, like-minded professionals sometimes just meet with each other in a private home for several months before establishing a real professional space. Some coworking spaces come with a number of bells and whistles, designed to cater to people who want a truly professional space, while others are more casual. To find such a space in your area, you can search for “coworking” or “co-working” and your city in your favorite search engine, and if you can't find one, maybe you should start one!