By now you’re likely well aware that coworking spaces have become trendy the world over. What started as an interesting concept showcased by some clean, modern offices erupted fairly quickly into a global craze. Now, anyone from a recent graduate with a freelance gig, to a team of Apple engineers, to a CEO growing a new business can take advantage of these innovative shared working environments.
Often, this trend is chalked up to a few simple facts: that more people are working remotely these days, and that coworking space can be more affordable for a business than typical office rent. Both are perfectly valid points in many cases, and certainly both have something to do with the coworking phenomenon. At the same time, however, we can also point to some more specific workplace trends helping to fuel the craze, from new industry priorities to evolving tendencies among independent workers.
A few trends stand out in particular.
1. The Rise Of Entrepreneurism
For the better part of a decade now it’s been clear that there’s a rising spirit of entrepreneurism all around the world. To be fair, this isn’t always framed as a positive thing; in many cases there appears to be a correlation between spikes in entrepreneurial pursuits and a lack of opportunity or optimism in more traditional career paths. Be that as it may, however, Entrepreneur’s data clearly showed a rise in startup pursuits in many parts of the world as of a few years ago, and those trends don’t seem to have slowed down.
Now, plenty of new startup founders are still doing things the old-fashioned way: working out of their homes or garages, renting tiny studio offices to get started, and the like. But this global spike in entrepreneurism also plays right into the coworking model’s hands, producing innumerable new companies looking for flexible, affordable, yet professional office space.
2. Increased Focus On Digital Marketing
We mentioned new industry priorities among the factors driving usage of coworking spaces, and one such priority is undoubtedly digital marketing. While this is not an entirely new phenomenon, it’s an aspect of modern businesses that has grown vastly more sophisticated in recent years, and which is now viewed as something of a necessity. Simply put, a company today without an up-to-date digital marketing operation is unlikely to remain competitive.
Still, it can be tough for new companies to manage this kind of operation on their own. Ayima discussed why digital marketing is difficult for startups, and essentially spoke to the complexity of this kind of effort. There are technical SEO problems to worry about, optimized content has to be created and shared, and some level of data analysis should come into play as well – all with the aim of increasing a company’s online visibility. And because a lot of businesses today can’t quite manage all of these efforts in house, some ultimately decide to outsource aspects of the work to experienced freelancers or full-fledged marketing professionals. This in turn is creating a lot of contract and freelance job opportunities for people in this line of work, who often turn to coworking space for day-to-day operations.
3. Cloud Storage & Communication Networks
Once upon a time, it was more or less necessary for a business and its employees to operate from a single location. Communication was easier, materials and projects were all in one place, and operations were simply more efficient with everybody sharing the same physical space. One can argue that developments like email, chat systems, basic file sharing, and even internet-enabled mobile phones have all chipped away at this one-time reality, and that’s a fair point to make. But it’s really the rise of cloud computing and more robust business communication networks that have allowed workplaces to scatter.
Business 2 Community spoke to how the cloud makes remote workers feel connected, and basically highlighted various factors from video conferencing to shared social presence. The core point is that with office operations entirely digitized, and accessible from any place with an internet connection, an employee 1,000 miles away from the main office can be fully plugged into his or her work, participating in communication channels and engaging with projects. Basically, these technologies have made remote working within a company far more feasible, leading to a vast remote workforce that can (and does) take advantage of coworking spaces.
4. The Emergence Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Lastly, there’s the digital nomad lifestyle to consider! We’ve written about travel working as the next big thing, and it seems evident by this point that more people are considering this sort of lifestyle. Some of the same factors discussed above, in fact, make a digital nomad or travel working lifestyle more possible, and this in turn further boosts the coworking craze. While there’s no guarantee that a digital nomad can always find a coworking space at any given destination, there are more of them seemingly with each passing week – and some operate as chains, such that membership works across numerous locations. It is therefore a reasonable expectation that as more people take up travel working, many of them will habitually make use of coworking spaces.
So there you have it! With some of these considerations, there is something of a chicken-or-egg question, regarding which came first. For instance, some might argue that coworking spaces are encouraging digital nomad lifestyles, as opposed to the other way around. The truth is likely a mix going both ways, however, and ultimately it’s fair to look to all of the points above as key factors helping coworking spaces to thrive.