The definition of the office is changing. Once, cubicles were the hot trend. Then it was working from home. Today’s buzzword in the workplace— coworking.

Evolving Work Place

Jerry Slutzky is the CEO and co-founder of a tech start-up called Moxie Sports. He and his business partner have been perfecting the business in a coworking space called Atlanta Tech Village (ATV)— a 5-story building dedicated to tech start-ups like Moxie Sports, Yik Yak and Salesloft. Business owners have their own private office and they also receive many outlets for collaboration with other start-ups. 

In the lobby of ATV there is a huge break room complete with couches, ping-pong table, foosball table, two 72-inch TVs for video games, two kegs of beer and a kitchen full of snacks and drinks.

Slutzky insists the break rooms are not a distraction. “It aids to production,” he says. “If you can escape and go play some ping pong or whatever it it! An individual needs a certain amount of mental breaks throughout the day,” Slutzky adds.

And he's right! Studies show that taking little breaks throughout the day can increase productivity and efficiency. In fact, one study from Healthy Decide shows that a little distraction can even be good for your brain. In this digital era, when staring at a computer screen, a 15 second long break taken every ten minutes decreases fatigue by as much as 50 percent.

Evolving Work Place

Roam is another co-working space that is similar to ATV. Instead of being tech specific, Roam is a collaborative environment for a variety of businesses. Some people come from home offices, some come from big companies and others are independent contractors.

As he held up his iPhone, Peyton Day, CEO of Roam says, “Now that you have one of these, you can work from anywhere.”

If you can work from anywhere, why pay to be a member at Roam? Cliff Oxford is the CEO of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs and he comes to Roam because of “the energy of this building.” Oxford points out, “You can feel the success here. You can feel that they’ve had some momentum and they want to go to the next level. It’s fun to be apart of that.”

Roam is growing. There are two (soon to be four) locations and when you are a member at one, you have access to all locations. With a membership, you can either work individually in one of the large rooms or reserve smaller conference rooms to engage collaboratively with a group.

Evolving Work Place

Five former IBM employees started Roam when they were sent home after big companies cut back on corporate offices. Working from home was not ideal and neither were coffee shops. Day explains, “it's not a conducive place to get work done or to have a meeting.” “Think of [Roam] as a purpose built product for that type of user— Somebody that wants to work mobily away from their home, but they also want to be a part of a community,” he adds.

Collaboration is Key 

These types of co-working spaces are popping up in big cities and small cities alike. Sean Reid is a computer programmer and consultant in Athens, Ga. His company goes to Roam when they need to meet together, but for the most part the employees interact remotely using technology. Even though Sean could do his tasks from his couch, he chooses to go to an open room type environment called The Quad.

“I used to work from home, but it was so isolating.” Reid affirms, “I need to go somewhere to get my creative juices flowing. That’s what is great about this place!”

Those that work from home enjoy fewer distractions from colleagues, but ultimately miss out on those relationships. Greg Osborne is the Southeast Regional Sales Manager for Fill Tech Solutions. Most days he travels, but when he is not, Osborne works from his kitchen counter.

Evolving Work Place

“Being in sales, you’re a people person. You always want to talk to somebody,” emphasizes Osborne, “but that is the part that you miss the most--That personal one on one interaction everyday.” 

Oxford, who writes for both the New York Times and Forbes says in his opinion, the future of the office does not include walls or privacy. The future is all employees, regardless of rank or title, collaborating together in one big room.

Doing the Research: What Exactly is a coworking space?

Coworking spaces are made up of people working independently, but together. According to Thomas Grillo of the Boston Business Journal, these spaces are centers where employees share a roof, but do not necessarily share a boss. They are offices, but do not belong to one company. Coworking spaces are to work what gyms are to exercise. Most involve rent paid by consumers for access to some form of desk, table and/or meeting room.

Where Can You Find a Coworking Space?

Evolving Work Place

Collaborative workspaces are covering the globe. Currently there are 623 different Coworking spaces in 72 countries and 401 cities. 

Listed on the coworking Wiki there is a directory of coworking spaces around the world.

The History

1995: Concept began when hackerspaces were initiated in Berlin, Germany.

1999: Term “coworking” was coined to describe collaborative work facilitated by computers.

2005: Brad Neuberg started the first official full-time coworking space in San Francisco.

2006: The Coworking Wiki was born.

Evolving Work Place

2008: During the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas the first unofficial coworking meetings occurred.

2010: The first conference took place in Brussels and at that time there were 600 coworking spaces.

2013: Year beginning over 100,000 people worked in this environment a 117% increase from previous year

2015: In January, GCUC (Global Coworking Unconference Conference) made global debut in Bali, Indonesia. 4th GCUC for the US set for May 6-8 in Berkeley California & global again in Sydney, Australia in June.

The Benefits

1. Avoid guilt. Working in a coffee shop or café usually causes you to feel the need to purchase something. In a coworking space you can use all the wifi you want without the guilt.

2. Build Your Client Base. Those who cowork come from a diverse group of businesses. Therefore, you might provide a service that the person next to you needs and vice versa. 

3. Professional Environment. Having a space committed to work and only to work can be valuable. Having a work devoted area often aids in productivity.

4. Build a Network. In business, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. You could be sharing a desk with a future investor, mentor or business partner. There is a lot of networking potential when you surround yourself with people.

5. Legitimize Your Operation. Coworking spaces offer conference rooms that are great for scheduling meetings. You increase your legitimacy by hosting a meeting in a place like this as opposed to a coffee shop or your kitchen counter.

6. Find A Niche. There are units dedicated to female entrepreneurs, medical, government contracting and more.

7. Knowledge At Your Fingertips. Most coworking spaces host events and seminars focused on a variety of different topics taught by experts

8. Save Money! According to deskmag “the average monthly cost of a flexible desk is just $195 in the US, €189 in Europe and £168 in the UK.” To have your own office it is over double the cost. Depending on the area a 200 square-foot-office can be as much as $500 or more per month.

Predictions for the Future

According to this Forbes article, 50 percent of Americans will be freelancers by the year 2020. With the increase of freelancers comes a higher demand for coworking spaces.

Over the last five years, coworking spaces have almost doubled each year. Researchers from Global Coworking Unconference Conference predict there will be over 12,000 coworking spaces by 2018. According to this prediction, co-working spaces will grow by 40% in the next 5 years.

About the Author

Ashley Yost

Ashley Yost is a Coca-Cola Journey student contributor and senior at the University of Georgia. She will graduate with a dual degree in Digital & Broadcast Journalism and Sport Management with a minor in Spanish. A Johns Creek, GA native, she was raised on SEC football, Georgia peaches, Coca Cola and summers at the Ted. Ashley is currently interning at WSB-TV, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta and plans to continue covering news upon graduation.