history of coworking spaces

History of Coworking Spaces

Nowadays, it seems like startups and coworking go hand in hand. With the rise in entrepreneurial spirit, demand for coworking spaces is on the rise, worldwide. India is also not lagging behind when it comes to accepting coworking spaces. Coworking spaces are a common sight in any commercial district of the country. Not only tier 1 but even tier 2 cities have become the hub of coworking spaces.

But before discussing further on coworking spaces, let’s learn how coworking spaces first came into existence.

History of Coworking space

It’s an interesting fact that the first of its kind of coworking workspace was established as early as 1995 in Berlin by 17 computer enthusiasts named ‘C-Base’ which was a hacker community. People interested in computers came here and worked as a group in an open ambience. However, the term ‘coworking’ was coined in 1999 by Bernard DeKoven who described coworking as “working together as equals”.

The first official coworking space that we know today was established in San Francisco. Google suggests that, it was used by Brad Neuberg in 2005 to describe a physical space where independent workers came to work in a relaxed environment.

Since its inception, coworking spaces have undergone huge changes and has grown to be the most sought after work space option in the market today. They bring modern-day pioneers to collaborate and develop their work in an open environment.

There are many startups that thrived well when they relied on coworking spaces as their startup office space.

Famous companies that started in coworking spaces are:

  1. Instagram – Instagram was founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and became a big hit shortly after its launch in 2010. It is now one of the most popular photo sharing apps of the world.
  2. Uber – An answer to cab hailing woes that is almost common to all the big cities of the world, Uber became hugely popular and now operates in almost all cities worldwide. Uber has become a part of our life and the company is ever growing by providing newer facilities to its users.
  3. Wanderfly – Wanderfly, which was known as the travel inspiration site, gained immense popularity and was acquired by Trip Advisor later.
  4. Timehop – Timehop is another company that became big starting from a coworking space. Timehop is a Facebook app that gives updates on what the user has posted, at any given day from the past years.

So what purpose does a coworking space serve? What makes it different, and why do startups thrive off these open-plan work environments? We have listed out few reasons for the same.

How coworking spaces play a major role in the growth of startups.

  • Network – The most obvious advantage of working in a shared space is probably the one that helps fledgling enterprises the most, i.e. Networking. Setting up new business relations and getting a feel of the market can all be achieved in a coworking space. A good network within the industry is more valuable than gold for startups, and for good reason- from endorsing your product to the overall development of it, a company’s connection plays an invaluable role every step of the way.
  • Save Money – Setting up an office space while launching a product or enterprise is a difficult and often a very expensive ordeal. Co-working spaces offer a package that includes all amenities that one would generally spend a fortune on, at a fraction of the cost. Utilities such as power, water, air conditioning, housekeeping, maintenance facilities, IT support etc. are all available in coworking spaces at economical rates.
  • Focus – Generally entrepreneurs have two choices in terms of where they run their operations from: a rented space or from their home space. Problem is, both locations are riddled with unnecessary distractions, and need extra resources from your end to manage. A self-maintained office demands your attention for even day-to-day maintenance, while working from home will always have your mind occupied with that undone laundry or those dirty dishes in the sink.

A facility that maintains itself, such as a co-working space, provides a huge advantage as a platform that invites budding companies to concentrate solely on their work and to focus all their resources on their companies.

  • Talent an arm’s length away – Need help in debugging a piece of code? Trying to get an expert’s opinion on your marketing strategy? Or just need some general advice on your operations? When you work in a co-working environment with a variety of companies under a single roof, searching for the right resources and professional solutions is just as easy as turning to the person in the next desk. It also becomes easier to analyze and learn new skills that would be useful to you and your product.
  • Get inspired – The opportunity to see like-minded people building their own vision on a similar platform has shown to empower the coworking participants in the same space. According to a study, 85% of the workers showed improved productivity and focus while working in a coworking environment.
  • Can’t isolate yourself – The choice between developing your product in isolation, or collaborating with similar entrepreneurs and frontrunners, who can give you shortcuts and even instant feedbacks, is an obvious one. Every new product would require a fresh perspective from time to time, and having a space filled with people willing to help certainly helps.
  • Part of a culture, a family, a community – With the beginning of the startup boom, we saw the birth of a new culture that focused on venturing out on their own to developing new technology and make the next world-changing idea. India in itself saw more than 1000 startups springing up in 2017, with a safe estimate of 10,000+ startups operating out of the country by 2020. This beckons a new work culture that operates on a shared platform, a community of sorts. An innate response within humans is credited with the fact that we perform better as a social unit as opposed to working in isolation, like an office cubicle.

Why coworking spaces is so popular in India?

The entrepreneurial spirit is on the rise in India. Millennials are interested in setting up their companies rather than being only remaining content with a career as an employee.

For any startup, having an individual office space comes at a huge expense. Not many can bear it. But you need a proper office address to register your company. Earlier, people used to opt for either work from home or taking up a tiny office space somewhere in the corner of the city compromising a healthy work atmosphere.

But coworking spaces came as their savior and provided the startups with all the required facilities at a much lesser price.

Even freelancers prefer to take individual work desk at any coworking space for working rather than depending on nearby cafés or working sluggishly from home.

Hence companies started to accept them and the popularity of coworking spaces in India is rising since then. Cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi have numerous coworking spaces offering the startups office spaces at multifarious budgets.

If you are a startup owner already working from a coworking space, then I am sure you would relate to most of the things we discussed, and if you are still in the deciding stage, where to take up an office space, then we hope you got clarity to what you can expect from a coworking space.

Either ways, good luck for your journey ahead!

Gargi Dutta

Author Bio: Gargi Dutta – Writing is my vocation. Based in Bengaluru, India and working in the Digital Marketing team of Novel Office as a Content writer and SEO analyst! Interested in writing about entrepreneurships, startups and commercial real estate!