team works togetherI remember when I first heard the term, “co-working.” It was 2009 and at the time, I was searching for office space for my budding consulting business, but didn’t necessarily have a deep enough revenue stream to take on too much overhead. Someone suggested I take a look at a co-working space. Not really knowing what the space was all about, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I remember walking into the open loft-style space that was neatly designed with modern art and carefully arranged desks. The place was quiet, but had a low buzz from a collection of conversations that were quietly happening as groups of people gathered at desks and chatted.

As I explored the option beyond what met the eye, I realized that there were three main reasons a co-working space could be a good move.

  1. It would be less of a commitment because the rent was affordable and I could opt-out at any time.
  1. The environment was welcoming for someone trying to get his/her sea legs in the business world.
  1. The social atmosphere would take my work-from-home business out of isolation and give me an opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate beyond just using technology for a GoToMeeting.

So, I gave it a try.

I spent two years in a co-working space that was established by the owners to be an incubator to help startups and small businesses launch into the world with knowledge, confidence, and potentially, more funding. The makeup of the renters included web developers, coders, graphic designers, marketers, lawyers, and a few furry friends.

Eventually, I left the space for my own space. I actually “grew out” of the co-working environment and needed a more private space that could allow me to have confidential phone conversations from my desk and limit the busyness around me without the use of noise cancelling headphones.

But, those two years were awesome and the space absolutely offered me and my flourishing business exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.

It seems that the co-working trend is still happening and it’s predicted to keep pace into 2015. According to this infographic, in 2013, there was a reported 83 percent growth in co-working facilities with a 117 percent growth in people using these spaces. The United States headed up the movement with the most spaces reported as dedicated co-working centers.

When taking a deeper look into why these spaces are still “a thing” and may be growing in adoption, there are two main factors: the growth of the freelancer/contractor world and the flexibility and enablement of technology.

In the EU, between 2010 and 2011, the number of freelancers increased by 82 percent to over 8.5 million people. On the same note, 2013 saw a growth in EU-based SMEs, which hit 523,410.

The Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis study by Oxford Economics and SAP, reported that 41 percent of executives are increasingly using contingent employees (and contingent employees were defined as independent contractors, part-timers, or temporary or leased employees). These employees aren’t always required to be on-site and therefore, co-working spaces become a place of choice.


When it comes to enablement through technology, the cloud is having a big impact. Because small businesses are adopting more cloud-based solutions ( predict there will be a 20 percent increase in spend over the next five years) as opposed to hardwired IT infrastructures, flexible and scalable technology is enabling businesses and allowing them to operate from just about anywhere. With Skype being a preferred method of communication and emails that can be sent from an airplane, business can be on the go.

So the outlook and future of work is increasingly pointing to this more “flexible and mobile” work style that may continue supporting a co-working, moveable, non-permanent office preference for the transforming workforce of 2020.