The Rise and Rise of Coworking
Although many South Africans still haven’t heard of coworking, there is no doubt that it will become a critical part of the evolving workforce. The latest research shows that there were 7,800 co-working spaces available globally in 2015 compared to just 75 in 2007.
Thanks to exponentially improving technology, entrepreneurship is on the rise and many small businesses can now do the work that only big corporates could do decades ago! Even corporate companies themselves are looking for new ways to keep staff fresh, motivated and mobile which is why they are also allowing certain staff members to venture out of the office and into these innovative melting pots!
SO WHAT IS COWORKING?
Up until recently, if you wanted to run your business from somewhere other than your garage or house, you would hop between coffee shops or take the big leap and lease office space.
Coffee shops work for a short while but the novelty wears thin very quickly because the space isn’t yours and you can quickly start to spend your kids’ college fund drinking premium coffee and eating grilled duck salads. It also offers very little privacy when you need to have those important meetings. That said, it beats the hell out of sitting at home all day working yourself into a cabin fever coma.
On the flip side, leasing your own space is great as long as you have ample cash reserves. Most landlords want a sizable deposit and thats before you’ve bought a single piece of office furniture.
And even if you have the cash, your landlord will most likely want you to sign a minimum of a 3-year lease which begs the question: what size office do you take? How do you know what your staff compliment is going to look like in three months let alone three years.
This is where the concept of co-working comes in. Small businesses can choose to rent anything from a single desk to a small office on short term leases. All you bring is your laptop; the desk, chair, internet and friends are provided. This idea works well because everyone shares the amenities like secretaries, meeting rooms, recreational space, etc. Each person gets to feel like they’re working at the Googleplex on a shoe string budget.
But coworking is meant to go a few steps further. By having proximity to fellow like-minded entrepreneurs, there’s every chance that you the co-working space you work from becomes a real community. And if you play your cards right, your next customer is sitting right next to you which could effectively nullify the cost of your desk in the first place.
SO WHO IS USING THESE COWORKING FACILITIES?
1. The Freelancer: There’s no question that the makeup of workers from around the world is changing. In the USA, 33% of the workforce is currently independent or freelancing. That number is projected to increase to 40% by 2020. Coworking makes sense for freelancers who lose their physical and social infrastructure when they leave the security of employment. That infrastructure needs to be replaced which is the role that co-working plays so well.
2. The Startup: As we mentioned earlier, most startups and small businesses are passed the point of working from home but not ready to sign a lease. Coworking spaces offer the little guys a professional office where they can work, meet with clients and make connections to grow and run their business. People from different backgrounds, who have different ideas, can cross-pollinate.
3. The Corporation: Believe it or not, corporate companies are starting to utilize co-working spaces because they have lots of corporate real estate and uninspired people. What do they do? Send them home? Now they are even less inspired. As a result, corporations are using Coworking spaces to cut down commute times and explore innovation through serendipitous interaction with like-minded strangers.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING…
Coworking spaces are set to pop up all over South Africa because they solve many problems for companies of all sizes. The ultimate value that coworking provides is its ability to foster community and bring people together. This is all that matters. The more like-minded people work together, the brighter the future of this country!