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Summary:

Coworking has been popular among entrepreneurs, techies and creatives for years, but it seems the idea if finally breaking out of its niche beginnings and going mainstream. The proof? A recent article in the staid Wall Street Journal lays out the evidence.

coworking going mainstream

Coworking has long been popular in the tech community and as a topic on WebWorkerDaily, but it seems the idea if finally breaking out of its niche beginning and going mainstream. The proof? A lengthy article in the staid Wall Street Journal  this week.

Claiming that the coworking idea is starting to attract mainstream attention, the paper lists several facts in support of its claim:

  • Increased interest from investors in coworking spaces. New York’s General Assembly raised $4.25 million from Yuri Milner of DST Global, and online marketplace for office sharing, Loosecubes, raised $1.23 million last year.
  • “Creative” space beats traditional office space in some markets. “The total vacancy for a ‘creative’ space with open floor plans ideal for co-working was 2.54 percent in San Francisco in July, and the asking rent ranged from $32 to $53 per square foot per year. Meanwhile, more ‘historical’ spaces with closed-door offices that lack open space had a total vacancy of 10.55 percent, while the asking rent ranged from $21 to $36 per square foot per year, according to commercial listing broker The CAC Group,” says the WSJ.
  • Office space owners are remodeling to take advantage of the trend.  Again the WSJ uses San Francisco as an example: “A building at 115 Sansome St., in downtown San Francisco, started remodeling for a more flexible layout to appeal to high-tech start-ups.”
  • Money men are taking note. It’s not just techies and creatives at coworking spaces these days, according to the WSJ. Investors are cruising the spaces for their next big money spinner. “At Plug and Play, angel investors, including Sand Hill Angels, Band of Angels and The Angels’ Forum, typically visit every Monday afternoon to review the business plans of start-ups. More established venture capitalists including Sequoia, Menlo Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners, typically drop by every other month.”

Do you agree with the WSJ that coworking is at a tipping point and about to go more mainstream? And is that good news or bad for the movement?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Charleston’s TheDigitel.

  1. nightowlspress Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Great article, Jessica, for calling attention to how coworking is catching the attention of mainstream media.

    From what we could gather when we were researching for ‘Working in the UnOffice’ (CoworkingGuide.com), coworking is still very much a business model in flux. And with all this attention it’s starting to get, we predict it’s going to be not so much a term to describe a space (i.e. joining a space) but rather a term to describe a way of working.

    Even well-established companies are taking ideas straight out of the coworking playbook, looking to create more collaborative working environments. Smaller, brick-and-mortar businesses that may not necessarily be able to join their local coworking space are opening their doors to freelancers and small teams (wonderfully, companies like Loosecubes and Deskwanted are helping make that happen!). They bring people in as a way to spark new ideas and new connections.

    We hope that going mainstream will expand awareness of coworking and the principles it espouses because it could vastly improve the productivity and experience of all types of workers– not just independent professionals.

    The only caveat is that going mainstream might have the side effect of creating artificially what usually develops organically in a space: the community. Community and the environment it creates are the core fundamentals to making coworking work!

    It has to be authentic, not manufactured.

    -Genevieve

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  2. Jessica, I think that co-working is related to freelancing.. and the latter is on the rise, so we’ll definitely see growing trends on coworking spaces, so to speak. Simply put, we are social animals after all and we have this inate need to mingle.

    I have known what freelancing full-time is like, where you don’t get the luxury of brainstorming with other creative minds and that isolation can be counter-productive sometimes. Coworking spaces may fix this. Besides, I guess that you can save a lot and work better in a coworking space, than your signature cafe – and the distractions are much more less as well. What’s great about this new setup too is that you get to meet like minds, where you can share your ideas without the fear of being ridiculed by your boss or colleagues in the usual office setting. It’s a win-win for me, I’d say!

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