The Rise of Co-Working Spaces

by Alexis Caffrey on October 2, 2013

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Co-working offices (sharing work space), is a hot trend. Tenants may be engaged in similar occupations, but work independently of each other. It’s highly attractive for individuals who don’t have a lot of employees, work remotely or travel frequently.

Freelancers, entrepreneurs and telecommuters are the primary consumers of co-working spaces and they are popping up everywhere, including START and Co-Inside in Houston.

Forbes predicts that the upward trend will continue. Several companies have opened spaces all across the United States, and desks can be rented by the week, month or year. The primary reason for the rise in popularity is due in part to the way our economy is changing.

As technology is expanding exponentially, so is the mobile and remote worker. Small business owners and remote employees are getting out of their basement and into a real office.

Deskmag conducted a survey of co-working spaces in North America and abroad. While they measured many different aspects of the co-working office lifestyle, significant findings reveal that workers are very pleased with the arrangement. In North America, the average size of a co-working office is 43 desks.

What’s the logic?

The logic behind sharing office space is rooted in the isolation that solo workers tend to experience. This type of arrangement allows for human interaction and networking among peers. In smaller settings, people may work in teams or collaborate on work. It also makes office space considerably more affordable for everyone.

While socialization is important, co-working allows access to higher end technology and in-office services as well. From FiOS fiber optic Internet connections to expensive laser printers, workers can share resources that enable them to work faster and better. It’s not uncommon to find shared luxury spaces, such as conference rooms, gyms and game rooms. Some co-working communities even allow pets and offer beverage services.

Potential drawbacks

There are a few downsides to sharing an office with other people. Generally, the bigger the space, the less people will interact with one another. Having too many people can undermine the social benefit of this type of arrangement. Smaller groups tend to be more organized, intimate and have less conflict with each other.

Although it may sound like a smaller office is the way to go, keep in mind that they are more economically disadvantaged than bigger ones. Since there are fewer people contributing to overall expenses, each person’s share will be larger. In some situations, this may also translate into fewer amenities.

The Verdict

Ultimately, co-working offices are popular for a reason: people love the environment and its affordability.

The lack of a long term lease means that a tenant can move on when needed. It levels the playing field among freelancers and small entrepreneurs, giving them access to amenities and equipment that were previously only available to large corporations. As the market continues to grow, there are numerous opportunities for landlords and workers to take advantage of all the benefits of sharing office space.  Expect this trend to stick around—in Houston and beyond.

Alexis Caffrey is a freelance writer with a focus on technology, new media, and design. In a former life she was a graphic designer based out of New York, NY. She actively (some would say obsessively) follows entertainment news and pop culture. You can reach Alex via her email.

  • James R. Carver

    Once again another informative article. Thank you!
    James R. Carver

  • Thank you James

  • Interesting concept. I’m curious to know what people are paying to “use” the space each day, for the week or for the year.

  • hfklaw

    Co-working spaces and collaborative offices are the “hot” words in office design lately. While collaboration can be a good thing, the trend needs to be somewhat tempered and we shouldn’t forget words like “distraction” and “focus”. Open designs intended to foster collaboration, come at the expense of focus on task. I see this as something that we stay around until people begin to realize that it is not a “one size fits all” environment.

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