Coworking Glossary

Workplace Design: Coworking Explained

Melissa Sant'Anna
October 12, 2023
 min read

The concept of coworking has revolutionized the traditional workspace environment, offering a more flexible and collaborative approach to work. This article delves into the intricacies of coworking as a workplace design, exploring its origins, benefits, challenges, and its impact on the future of work.

Coworking spaces are shared workspaces that house freelancers, remote workers, and businesses of all sizes. They offer amenities such as hot-desks, private meeting rooms, and perks such as coffee and networking events. This new way of working has been growing rapidly in popularity over the past decade, transforming the way we perceive the concept of an office.

History of Coworking

The idea of coworking emerged in the early 2000s, with the first official coworking space opening in San Francisco in 2005. The concept was born out of the need for a more flexible and collaborative work environment, especially for freelancers and remote workers who often felt isolated working from home.

Since then, the coworking industry has seen exponential growth, with thousands of coworking spaces now operating worldwide. The rise of digital technology and the growing trend towards remote and flexible work have been significant drivers of this growth.

Early Beginnings

The first coworking space, named 'The Spiral Muse', was founded by Brad Neuberg in San Francisco. It was a non-profit project that aimed to create a community of like-minded individuals who could collaborate and share ideas. The space was only open two days a week and could accommodate up to eight people.

Despite its limited capacity and opening hours, The Spiral Muse laid the groundwork for the coworking movement. It demonstrated the potential benefits of a shared workspace, such as increased productivity, networking opportunities, and a sense of community.

Global Expansion

Following the success of the first coworking space, the concept quickly spread across the globe. In 2007, the first coworking space in Europe opened in London, and by 2010, there were coworking spaces in most major cities worldwide.

The rapid expansion of coworking spaces can be attributed to the increasing demand for flexible work arrangements and the rise of the gig economy. As more people began working remotely, the need for a dedicated workspace that offered more than just a desk and internet connection became evident.

Benefits of Coworking

Coworking offers numerous benefits that have contributed to its popularity. These include increased productivity, networking opportunities, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and a sense of community.

Many people find that they are more productive in a coworking space than at home or in a traditional office. This can be attributed to the professional environment, the availability of resources, and the presence of other motivated individuals.

Increased Productivity

One of the main advantages of coworking spaces is the increase in productivity they can provide. The structured environment can help reduce distractions and encourage focus, while the presence of other professionals can foster a motivated and productive atmosphere.

Furthermore, coworking spaces often offer resources and amenities that individuals may not have access to at home, such as high-speed internet, professional meeting rooms, and office equipment. This can further enhance productivity and efficiency.

Networking Opportunities

Coworking spaces are also renowned for the networking opportunities they provide. They house a diverse range of professionals from various industries, providing ample opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and business growth.

Many coworking spaces also host networking events and workshops, providing members with the chance to learn new skills and connect with like-minded individuals. This can lead to new business opportunities and partnerships, as well as personal and professional development.

Challenges of Coworking

Despite the numerous benefits, coworking also presents several challenges. These include issues related to privacy, noise, and the potential for overworking. It's important for anyone considering coworking to be aware of these potential drawbacks.

While coworking spaces are designed to foster collaboration and openness, this can sometimes come at the expense of privacy. Noise can also be an issue in some spaces, particularly those with an open-plan design. Additionally, the blurred lines between work and personal life can lead to overworking for some individuals.

Privacy Concerns

One of the main challenges of coworking spaces is the lack of privacy. While the open-plan design of many coworking spaces fosters collaboration and interaction, it can also make it difficult for individuals to have private conversations or focus on their work without distractions.

Some coworking spaces offer private offices or cubicles as a solution to this issue. However, these options are often more expensive and may not be feasible for all members. Therefore, it's important for individuals to consider their privacy needs when choosing a coworking space.

Noise Levels

Noise can also be a significant issue in coworking spaces. The open-plan design, coupled with the collaborative nature of these spaces, can lead to high noise levels. This can be distracting for some individuals and can negatively impact productivity.

Many coworking spaces offer quiet zones or soundproof rooms to combat this issue. However, these solutions may not be sufficient for everyone, particularly those who require a high level of quiet for their work. Therefore, it's important to consider the noise level of a coworking space before committing to a membership.

The Future of Coworking

The future of coworking looks promising, with the industry expected to continue growing in the coming years. The ongoing trend towards remote and flexible work, coupled with the increasing demand for community and collaboration, suggests that coworking will remain a popular choice for many professionals.

However, the industry is also likely to face challenges as it continues to evolve. These may include increased competition, the need for more diverse offerings, and the impact of economic and technological changes. Despite these challenges, the coworking industry is well-positioned to adapt and thrive in the future of work.

Continued Growth

The coworking industry is expected to continue growing in the coming years. The ongoing trend towards remote and flexible work, coupled with the increasing demand for community and collaboration, suggests that coworking will remain a popular choice for many professionals.

Furthermore, as more businesses recognize the benefits of coworking, it's likely that we'll see an increase in the number of companies opting for coworking spaces over traditional offices. This trend is likely to be further fueled by the ongoing digital transformation of work, which is making remote and flexible work arrangements increasingly feasible and attractive.

Increased Competition and Diversification

As the coworking industry continues to grow, it's likely to face increased competition. This will likely lead to a greater diversification of offerings, as coworking spaces strive to differentiate themselves and attract members.

We're already seeing this trend, with many coworking spaces now offering niche services or catering to specific industries or demographics. This trend is likely to continue, with coworking spaces becoming increasingly specialized and diverse in their offerings.


Coworking has transformed the way we work, offering a more flexible and collaborative approach to the traditional office environment. While it presents certain challenges, the benefits of coworking are numerous and significant, making it an attractive option for many professionals.

As the coworking industry continues to evolve and grow, it's likely to play an increasingly important role in the future of work. With its focus on community, collaboration, and flexibility, coworking embodies many of the values and trends that are shaping the future of work.

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