Are Coworking Spaces Actually a Good Thing or Simply a Rational Response to Negative Changes in Traditional Workplaces
They can be noisy but coworking spaces also offer an environment where professionals can wait out the volatility of the job market.
The growing phenomenon of coworking spaces is as indicative of the changing nature of work .
Rightly focusing on the way in which technology is tending to convert full-time work into part-time “gigs” — there may well be a big upside. Coworking is a model that gives workers themselves, the digital nomads of gig economy, more control over their working lives.
How big is the sector? The number of people renting such spaces will grow globally from just under 1m in 2016 to nearly 4m in 2020.
Coworking can be a positive choice for many freelancers because such workers are seeking “relief from the emotional demands of the corporate office.
Coworking spaces expanded significantly in the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008/9, adding this style of work emerged in response to the slow plod of austerity, hollowed-out corporations, underemployment and career insecurity. They meet a growing demand for care and fulfillment as much as employment.
Coworking is often an experience of work that is determined by workers themselves. Isolation is one of the key problems that arises for freelancers and providing this sort of human contact — a community of fellow nomads — has become the secret sauce of the co-working industry, a large part of what makes it attractive. It is ultimately the community experience that keeps people there there, even as their organisations grow.
The co-working space has become the centre of a useful network that would not otherwise have been available.
Nonetheless co-working isn’t suitable for all kinds of workers. Some freelancers point out that the spaces can be noisy and hard to work in. Anis Qizilbash, who runs a sales training business, did several six-month stints but isn’t keen to continue. “I felt uncomfortable and it was hard to concentrate. Often there would be music playing and, being an introvert, I hated the open-plan workspace.”
There is not escaping the fact that the nature of work is changing, however, so it’s worth embracing the positive aspects of that change. What constitutes a job is no longer neatly bound by notions of a career, the nine-to-five, of 40-hour weeks and four-weeks’ holiday leave, and nor should it be.
Flexibility that empowers workers — as opposed to the sort of “flexibility” imposed from above by employers — should be welcomed and co-working spaces may enable that sort of change. It could be the testing ground for an entirely reimagined notion of employment.
“Coworking may well be “the millennial’s MBA.
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