You've heard of coworking spaces--the sorts of innovative open office spaces that allow for entrepreneuers, freelancers and remote workers to share furniture, a roof, and Wifi.
Maybe you've even visited one, or maybe you're even based out of one. But what you might not realize is just how widely the concept has taken root in the U.S. entrepreneurial ecosystem.
According to a report from the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, reported on recently in the Boston Business Journal, the number of coworking spaces in America has gone from one to 781 since 2005.
That trend isn't showing any signs of slowing down; that number increased 83 percent from 2012 to 2013, while coworking memberships increased 117 percent in that time.
A New Way to Start Up
A decade ago, an entrepreneur seeking startup space had a couple of options.
They could find affordable office space, or they could work out of their home office. The option to sign up for a membership at a large shared office, where interacting and networking with other professionals is not just possible but intrinsic to the day-to-day, might have seemed unheard of. But the rise of coworking space in the past 10 years has changed the face of the startup "office."
Coworking has also proven instrumental to remote teams who seek the occasional space to meet face-to-face, and individual members of those teams who could benefit from a break from their home office.
The report makes the distinction between coworking spaces and incubators, accelerators, and "innovation centers," describing coworking as a space for private individuals or groups as well as startup companies, seeking "efficiency, economy, community, collaborative opportunities, social and educational benefits."
The report notes that some larger companies are taking a play out of the coworking book. In Boston, for instance, financial company State Street has been developing what it calls State Street Bank--an internal coworking space for its employees.
How does it differ from its regular offices? It will feature "interdepartmental sharing of common space, multifunctional spaces, less individual space and more collective space," allowing for greater collaboration across the company. Not only that, but the new space figures to "reduce cost per seat by 35 percent, from $8,500 to $5,500" for the company.