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What is coworking? Shared workspace explained

 - May 31, 2024

If you’ve got a job, you probably have a workspace or desperately need one. That’s where coworking and Common Desk come in. Today, we’re getting back to the basics and sharing the origins of coworking, its ultimate aim, and how it can benefit your business in the modern world. 

Coworking isn’t a new invention. While it seems collaborative workspaces are popping up at a breakneck pace, they’ve been around since 1995, originating out of Berlin. The first-ever ‘coworking’ space came together through a team of hackers looking to share their work location and experience while tackling coding assignments. The same year, this newfound communal work environment was dubbed ‘coworking’ by Bernard DeKoven with the following definition: “Collaborative work among equals.” If you’re familiar with us, you’ll know that’s one heck of an idea that we’re happy to promote and have been championing for the last 11 years. 

By the end of 1995, Hackerspace, the OG coworking destination, opened other communities in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Since then, coworking has expanded astronomically, growing in Europe throughout the 2000s and taking off in the United States in the mid to late 2000s. 30 years later, coworking is still a place for equals to work collaboratively and has become much more. In Common Desk’s case, it’s not only where business goals and dreams come to take off, but it’s also a beautiful, versatile spin on the traditional office space, provides imperative networking opportunities for like-minded individuals across industries, and serves as a powerful antidote to workplace loneliness. 

Despite the speed of coworking’s evolution, we get plenty of questions about how this whole thing works and sometimes run into skepticism from folks considering if it’s the right match for their business. Since the workspace landscape has revolved around fixed office buildings, hotel meeting spaces, and event space rentals for decades, it’s no surprise we feel frazzled when meeting the work variety of Common Desk. So, let’s break it down. What is coworking? A quick Google search defines it this way:

“Coworking is an arrangement where workers from different companies share office space.” We agree, however, coworking is far more than just where people work. Below, you’ll get a look at coworking from Common Desk’s perspective and see 3 ways coworking is the modern solution to the rising tide of remote, hybrid, and flexible work.

Workplace Loneliness

Common Desk has always sought to create people-centric spaces where everyone, whether a visitor or long-term member, feels welcomed and supported in their professional endeavors. In the wake of crises like COVID, professionals are feeling more isolated and lonelier than ever and though we’re fans of unconventional work setups like the home office and coffee shop cruising, we believe in the power of being together. Coworking is the perfect blend of focused productivity, workplace freedom, and interconnectedness with your city’s web of professionals and forward thinkers. Giving workers productive environments in shared spaces to get their to-do’s done while simultaneously enjoying the company of others is one of the biggest wins that coworking offers. Sometimes, not a word needs to be said, the simplicity of being in the physical company of others is enough to encourage and motivate us. But for those who are looking to mingle, coworking spaces also create connection points throughout the week. At Common Desk, packed weekly calendars are a priority and an essential part of our workday rhythms. Between happy hours, annual crawfish boils, book clubs, bring your pets to work day, and more, there are constant opportunities to fellowship, bring joy to your workweek, and expand your professional circle.

Flexible Workspace

Almost everything in life is uncertain but despite that fact, we still tend to make agreements and plans as though we can predict the future. One advantage of coworking spaces is the flexibility and control they put into the hands of their members. Earlier, we mentioned that the business sector traditionally operates on fixed office locations. Coworking has changed that. Offering short-term, flexible leases, monthly memberships, and one-off rentals, coworking keeps up with the ever-changing landscape of rising, falling, and evolving businesses and lives. Say your company experiences insane growth and you need to hire three new employees. Upgrading to a bigger office is as easy as a quick conversation with our hospitality team to peruse your options. Suppose you move back to your hometown to support your extended family. A simple written notice delivered to your hospitality team before the 15th of the month successfully ends your month-to-month membership. Easy! We know our members are diverse and require different qualities in a work environment. Common Desk’s offerings are extensive, with memberships tailored for students to big suite rentals for teams upwards of 50 people. With coworking, you don’t have to stay geographically rooted, either. Common Desk’s coworking locations operate on an open network. Work from Austin, Dallas, or even North Carolina. Anywhere there’s a Common Desk (with a qualifying membership), the flexibility and control are yours. 

Equipment and Amenity Inclusive

Amid busy schedules, it’s nice to count on things being wrapped up all in one place. Many coworking spaces partner with properties and campuses that have everything you need for your workweek, inside and outside the office so you can cut down on things like commuting to the gym, lunch, or off-site meetings for bigger groups. Many of Common Desk’s locations have state-of-the-art fitness centers, cafes, and restaurants attached to the building or are within walking distance and house plenty of large rooms for team gatherings or client calls. You also won’t have to worry about equipment requirements like printers, projectors, whiteboards, WiFi, or even furniture in coworking spaces! If you’re looking to cut down on time spent commuting and don’t want to fight with your city’s traffic patterns, coworking may be the place where your workweek thrives in one central location. When touring a coworking location, make sure you inquire about included amenities to get a fuller picture of all that’s included in the membership of your choice. 

Getting Started

Nearly 12 years later, we’ve come to believe in the power of communal workspaces all the more. Our members have welcomed our hospitality teams into their wins, losses, and everything in between and have experienced such exponential growth inside our spaces that they’ve commandeered buildings of their own. We’ve watched our network of professionals meet major milestones like promotions, marriages, parenthood, beginning businesses of their own, and more. Many of them have reached across the halls of our spaces and cultivated valuable friendships with folks from entirely different industries than theirs. From the most practical of workplace requirements to the internal magic that makes us human, professional connections are happening inside coworking spaces to a degree that the office space of old could never quite accomplish. 

If you’re uncertain if coworking is right for you, the best way to find out is by jumping in. Most coworking spaces on the market offer day passes to their shared space, which is the ideal way to get a sense of the offerings, daily flow, and atmosphere of the coworking spot you’re considering. For $25/day, Common Desk gives its guests free rein of extensive shared space, free specialty drip coffee and tea, chat booths for breakaway calls, and access to any community events happening the day of their visit. The day pass is the fool-proof, cost-effective option for utilizing coworking space before you’re ready to say yes to a membership. Common Desk also runs tours multiple times a day, five days a week. You can experience the coworking magic that put us on the map firsthand by booking a tour here!

Where you work has an impact on the job you do, so it’s ideal to love your workspace. If that hasn’t been your experience throughout your professional journey, coworking may be the difference you’re missing. See you inside one of our locations soon!

Jessica Madden

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