Thanks to technology and the cloud, knowledge workers no longer need to work from a specific location. Knowledge workers work on their terms, on projects of their choice, and at any time. Freelancing is the new norm.
This has led to an explosion in freelancing, also known as the “gig economy.” A 2014 study looked at Australia’s freelancing economy and found that 30 per cent of Australian workers are freelancing, making an economic contribution of $51 billion yearly.
All those freelancers require a place to get the work done. Some make use of a home office, some use coffee shops, and many use coworking spaces. Coworking refers to an office-sharing model started in 2005 by Brad Neuberg, a software developer in San Francisco, who said he wanted “the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others.”
According to Sourceable, Coworking is:
a reaction to the “work anywhere, anytime” idea. “Once we realised that we can work anywhere anytime, the other side of that coin is we actually need to work somewhere, sometime,” he said.
In addition, not all work spaces, such as coffee shops and home offices, can offer all that each person needs. “You can work at home, you can work at the beach, you can work in all these different spaces,” Chevez said, “but these spaces seem to be falling short in some qualities, and these qualities most of the time are social qualities of interactions with others.”
A public space such as coworking can provide certain amenities.“It allows you to have a sense of community, someplace that you belong,” Chevez said. “It allows you to interact with others, to get out of your pajamas if you work from home and interact with others in that professional way.”
In addition to a place to work, coworking was founded on the values of community, openness, collaboration, sustainability, and accessibility. “Coworking has a social agenda,” Chevez said. “It’s a little bit like Club Med or going on a cruise. You have all these activities that are provided for you during the day, so you have yoga, meditation, sessions on this, sessions on that,” he noted.
In order to learn about coworking, Chevez immersed himself in coworking for three months as a research project. “I was very curious to see the extent that this coworking phenomenon works,” he said, “and what I found when I was part of this environment is that not many people take up these offers. Not many people are involved in these different activities, but perhaps the idea is that they are there as incentives for people to belong to these type of spaces.”
Some freelancers, of course, simply need a place to work, not a values-based approach or group activities. This “real-estate solution,” Chevez said, appeals to small and start-up firms that can’t commit to a lease and can’t accurately predict their growth.
“Coworking is helping those organisations that cannot foresee their growth pattern to stay there because it’s like space on tap,” he said. “Like beer on tap, coworking can be space on tap, because you can turn it on and off, or increase it as your needs go.”
Coworking is the natural solution for freelance-based ‘knowledge workers’ and the evolution of the traditional office space.