Top 3 Coworking Resources You’re Not Using

Coworking is a state of mind, a community, and most importantly- a unique global movement. But figuring out how to get the most out of this rapidly expanding, concept of working can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

By Angel Kwiatkowski

Coworking is a state of mind, a community, and most importantly- a unique global movement. But figuring out how to get the most out of this rapidly expanding, concept of working can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.

Coworking Google Group

This group acts as a support structure and discussion network amongst people interested in coworking on any level: as a catalyst, as a space owner or as a coworker. You’re welcome to lurk here, and learn silently from the knowledge and questions of others, but it’s even more of a resource if you introduce yourself and participate in the discussion. Learn more…

Coworking Wiki

If you’re looking for a place to cowork while traveling, or are just interested in watching and/or supporting the growth of the movement, this is the resource for you. Successful business models, best practices, and 700+ pages of user generated knowledge can be found on the Wiki, as well as information about the Coworking Visa Program, space directory, and coworking events list.

Global Coworking Blog

Want to share your experience about coworking in a new space? Want to find out what other coworkers are struggling with or challenged by? Got tips that all coworkers should be aware of? Share it on the blog. Press, announcements, and industry research can also be found on the Global Coworking Blog. In true coworking fashion, any and all coworkers are invited to submit posts to this page.

Image Credit: Flickr – usefulguy

Study on Coworking: The Coworker

Very few academic studies about coworking and coworkers have ever been carried. Berlin university student Lukas de Pellegrin set out to change this by conducting research on coworkers, setting out three important questions: who are coworkers, how should their workspace look like, and why?

He harvested responses from the users of coworking spaces in Berlin, and Deskmag is publishing the results. The survey is the forerunner of a worldwide study in which readers can participate.

This first survey was conducted in Berlin coworking spaces, like here at Studio 70.

The typical coworker

The typical Berlin coworker is self-employed, male and 31 years old, at least on average. Almost all coworkers are self-employed – more than 95%. Women make up 40% of coworkers. The majority of coworkers are between 30 and 40 years old. Very few are older, and slightly less than half are younger, most of them in their mid to late 20s.

Coworking Spaces are centers for programmers and web designers

Coworking spaces in Berlin have established themselves as centers for programmers and web designers, who together make up almost half of all users (42%). Yet those looking for translators or architects will also find plenty in these workspaces.

The working life of a coworker is one of projects. And most projects run for an average of six months. Many also work on shorter contracts – 25% of all projects take less than two weeks.

Loyalty to coworking spaces lasts much longer than a project

Coworkers are very loyal to their coworking space. The overwhelming majority identified very strongly with their space, and have been there for just under 18 months. (although most coworking spaces are not more than 18 months old). When a coworker chooses to leave a coworking space they do so quickly, within three or six months of arriving. Those that have been there a year often remain for much longer.

Coworkers told de Pellegrin that the thing they expect most of coworking spaces was the opportunity to interact with other self-employed people. Many coe for the interesting mixture of different professional fields. They don’t want to work at home, and see coworking spaces as a simple solution. One in twelve coworkers are on a temporary stay in Berlin.

Looking for new connections

However, the low cost of coworking spaces is the most important deciding factor when selecting a certain place to work. The second criterion was the possibility for chance discoveries and encounters with people that could have a positive impact on future work. Interacting with other people yet still remaining autonomous was the third-most important factor.

Another important factor is short travel distance. In Berlin, coworkers rarely commute more than four kilometers to their workplace, and the average distance is three kilometers. More than half go by bike, one in three uses public transport, one in five by foot, and only one in ten by car.

Once there, they make most use of a computer and desk, kitchen facilities, printers and filing cabinets. This is followed by leisure facilities and interactive spaces. Most also go to restaurants or snack bars nearby for their food.

The most important factors for coworkers are low cost, new (unexpected) connections, interaction, and staying autonomous at the same time. More pictures on Deskmag.

Starting a worldwide survey

The results are the basis for a worldwide survey that de Pellegrin will start with in the next few months at the 600 or so coworking spaces worldwide.

And users can participate directly. How do you feel about the results? What important questions were overlooked? What do you want to know more about coworkers or coworking spaces? You can send your questions and comments to Deskmag, or simply tweet on our Twitter page. Your contributions on Twitter will be included in the survey. The results will be published soon.

:::::

study@deskmag.com

By Carsten Foertsch

:::::

Lukas De Pellegrini is about to graduate in architecture. His home university is Berlin’s Technische Universität (TU Berlin).

Deskmag is a magazine about the new places we work, how they look, how they function and how they could be improved. We especially focus on workspaces which are home to the new breed of independent workers, such as coworking spaces, private shared studios and executive offices.

The results of the Coworking Survey

So…wow…we collected over 120 responses (including the first 11 via email that aren’t in the spreadsheet) and I spoke with quite a few people who said they didn’t get the chance to go take the survey, so I think this is representative of the fact that there is quite a bit of interest worldwide in coworking! Yay! Some great information, too…really telling us where we are at and highlighting people’s needs.

Some overview results for you:

Countries of respondents
Country Percent Total
USA 58.18%
Unknown 9%
Canada 6.36%
Ireland 3.64%
UK 3.64%
Italy 2.73%
Australia 1.82%
Croatia 1.82%
Germany 1.82%
New Zealand 1.82%
South Africa 1.82%
Afghanistan 0.91%
Finland 0.91%
France 0.91%
Poland 0.91%
Portugal 0.91%
Singapore 0.91%
Spain 0.91%
Switzerland 0.91%

NOTE: I’m guessing due to the anglo-centric discussions, we are getting much higher response in English speaking countries. This may present an opportunity for those in other countries to champion this movement themselves, by translating important text into their own language?

Stages of people on the list
Stage Percent Total
Are currently looking for a space to work from (wanting to be coworkers) 30.9%
Are interested in setting up a space (potential space owners) 25.5%
Other 18.2%
Are just watching the list (lurkers) 10.9%
Are in the process of setting up a space (future space owners) 10.0%
Are currently working at a coworking space (coworkers) 2.7%
Are currently running a coworking space (space owners) 1.8%

NOTE: The trick, for me, is to turn the 10.9% lurkers (and the 18.2% others) into either future space owners or coworkers and turn those potential space owners into actual space owners so the people looking for spaces have somewhere to work!

The order of importance of features in a space (rating out of 5)
Features Importance (out of 5)
Atmosphere 4.5
Community Feeling 4.3
Collaborative Environment 4.1
Location 4.0
Networking Opportunities 3.9
Excellent Coworkers 3.7
Meeting Spaces 3.7
Quiet Spaces 3.4
Security 3.2
24 hr Access 3.1
Event spaces 2.9
Privacy 2.8
Personalized Space (own desk) 2.6

NOTE: For those setting up a space, think of creating a really great atmosphere as the #1 thing to concentrate on. There is a great article here on seriously great workspaces. So, do you need art? Comfy chairs? Plants? Rugs? Flowers? Games? Yep. In the end, EVERYTHING was pretty important (nothing scored less than 50%), but Atmosphere and Comunity Feeling blew the others away.

So, how can we help the people trying to set up coworking spaces?

Immediate needs expressed
Needs Percent Total
Finding Space 13.6%
Money 10.9%
Partner 7.3%
Space Management Tips 5.5%
Coworkers 5.5%
Structural Health 4.5%
Networking 3.6%
Other 2.7%

…if we could encourage the lurkers, maybe #3 (Partners) wouldn’t be such a big deal and they could help us find space (#1). Money? That’s a whole other issue. Anyone have good tips? For us, we decided to take fewer risks on the monthly rent (found a fix-me-upper that doesn’t have parking spots so the building rent is lower) to make for a better space and not as much pressure on us if we lose tenants…

What are they getting out of the coworking list?
Benefits Percent Total
Community 16.4%
Advice 14.5%
Support 10.9%
Promotio 8.2%
Mentor 5.5%
Coworker 5.5%
Other 2.7%

…aaaawwwww! Community, advice and support are awesome things to get out of this list and everyone should be proud of themselves for giving so much! 🙂

The rest of the answers are here: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pVSaj5ixYmAyYm–dbRhgXw in long form. I’ve removed all of the personal information as far as I know…(like IPs and emails)

Enjoy!