The History of Co-Working

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The history of co-working has grown to represent a cutting-edge method of working for millions of professionals throughout the world. It is no surprise, given that the sector expanded by about 30% between 2013 and 2018.

But much more noteworthy than its historical expansion is the prediction that the number of coworking spaces worldwide will quadruple by 2025.

So how did coworking go from being a little sector to one that might account for 30% of all office space in the United States by the end of the decade?

We must examine coworking's past to comprehend its present.

The History of Coworking Begins in 1995

Coworking spaces have a long history dating back to 1995 in Berlin, Germany.

You might be surprised to learn that 17 computer engineers founded C-Base, the first fictitious coworking facility, as a "hackerspace."

The purpose of this location was to serve as a non-profit gathering place for computer enthusiasts, offering them access to facilities, tools, chances for collaboration, and information.

In 1999, people used the term "coworking" for the first time.

An American game designer, author, lecturer, and "fun theorist," Bernard DeKoven, used the phrase "coworking" for the first time in 1999.

But back then, he was talking more about a manner of working than a specific place to work; his ambition for the future of work was to foster greater collaboration and do away with hierarchy in the workplace.

He wasn't aware of it at the time, but this ideology eventually gave rise to what coworking is today.

In its current form, the first coworking space debuted in 2002.

Finally, two Austrian businessmen opened "the mother of coworking spaces" in 2002. In an abandoned factory in Vienna, Schraubenfabrik was established. It served as a purported entrepreneurial hub for entrepreneurs, freelancers, PR firms, and architects to interact and leave the house.

Later, the creators of Schraubenfabrik would also establish Rochuspark.

A Coworking Space Opened in San Francisco in 2005

Brad Neuberg established San Francisco Coworking Space on August 9, 2005, in the city's Mission District. It intended to offer a setting that combines the independence of working alone with the structure and community of working with others.

Though it wasn't an easy beginning, nobody came to work in the facility for the first month. Ray Baxter, a startup developer and athlete was the first person to join the space and consequently the first recognized employee in history of co-working.

That first location closed a year later, and The Hat Factory took its place.

In 2006, the Creator of the Twitter Hashtag Opened a Space

The Coworking Wiki is an open-source online database. It was established in 2006 by Chris Messina, the man behind the Twitter hashtag. In the end, it helped coworkers connect and locate coworking spaces in new places while also assisting coworking spaces in promoting themselves.

This marked the start of coworking's worldwide exponential growth.

The Craze Spreads Nationwide

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The rest of the nation became aware of the trend shortly after Neuberg started it. Brooklyn Coworking, the first coworking location in New York City, opened its doors in 2006. That year saw the founding of Jelly, which promoted gatherings of remote employees in one location.

In 2007, it began to operate in areas including Austin and Phoenix. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference was founded in 2009. Today, it continues to be a leader in the coworking sector. By 2012, there were more than 2,000 places worldwide, solidifying its influence as a significant trend.

Today's Largest Coworking Spaces

There are dozens of significant coworking space businesses operating globally as of 2021, including franchises with locations in numerous cities. While large corporations control most of the worldwide market, a startling number of independent enterprises rapidly expand to five to ten sites and control the market share in specific cities and areas. The opening of additional one-off venues is driving the industry's continuous expansion.

The expansion rate has been so rapid. Over 40,000 coworking spaces are expected to exist globally by 2024. It is no surprise that more urban and suburban locations will likely see the introduction of coworking spaces over the next few years, given the increase of the "side hustle" and the expansion of flexible and remote work possibilities for many employees.

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