The global game changer – Coworking: How did it all begin?

Divya Sitlani
Divya Sitlani is the Client Relationship Manager at The Address. If you ever happen to visit The Address' Ahmedabad offices, do not miss to stop by and say Hi to her.

Coworking spaces and the idea of coworking has been around for a long period of time. The coworking industry, that was barely recognised and was miniscule at first, has now persisted and adopted by all large-scale companies, start-ups and individuals. Surely, they have had an elaborate, rollercoaster ride – to now become the skyrocketing – $16.7 billion industry in 2022 according to the business research company. 

The above-mentioned, begs the question of its evolution and history? This business model and office landscape has revolutionised work and workspaces but how did it originate and progress over time? Let’s take a tour of the same.

1995: The Berlin based, C- Base: Hackerspace was the first coworking, non-for-profit space. This was created by a bunch of computer engineers so that other computer enthusiasts can come forward and share a space, equipment, knowledge and a whole lot of ideas. 

1999: Coworking was coined by Bernard Dekoven, an American game designer. His focus was more on the manner in which we work and not on the space we occupy. He believed in collaborative work through the means of a non-competitive approach. This would mean, that instead of a hierarchical approach, “a working together as equals” approach should have been employed. The catch is – that it is different from how we see coworking today. 

2002: In an old Vienna factory – 2 Australian entrepreneurs set up an entrepreneurial centre. This space was laden with architects, PR consultants, freelance entrepreneurs that could skip the idea of working from home. They could come here and build something better with the expertise of others. This acted like a precursor of the coworking spaces that we know of today.

2005: 9th August, Brad Neuberg set up the very first coworking space called Spiral Muse, another non-profit in San Francisco. Here, people were benefited with the utmost freedom of working independently as well as the structure of working with others. He faced a shortcoming in the first month as nobody turned up. Thankfully, after continual efforts, an athlete named Ray Bexter arrived, becoming the world’s first co-worker. 

2006: A year later, this did not pan out well and was replaced by the Hat Factory. Additionally, the creator of hashtags on Twitter – Chris Messina created Coworking Wiki. This aids co-workers around the world to network with others and find a new space for themselves. Side by side, promotion of their respective coworking spaces also happens.

2008: Concept of coworking visas is brought into picture. This is initiated to create a global coworking community – wherein members are given access without any monetary requirement to coworking spaces across the globe. There are approximately 160 + coworking spaces worldwide by then.

2009: The first book is launched on coworking called “I’m Outta here! How coworking is making the office obsolete.” This sheds light on how the workspaces have transformed in the USA. 

2010: Was one of the most integral years for the coworking concept. Firstly, the coworking day was created to acknowledge 5 years of the very first coworking space founded by Brad Neuberg. 9th August, is now celebrated, each year as the International coworking day. Secondly, the giant coworking company – WeWork also opened its doors adhering to an eco-friendly model. Lastly, the first online magazine on Coworking called DeskMag went live. 

2014: 5780 coworking spaces with 295,000 members worldwide.

2016: Large companies, MNC’s appreciate and adopt the Coworking model. HSBC, Microsoft, KPMG, IMB to name a few. By 2017, there are 1M+ co-workers worldwide.

2018: London becomes the Capital of coworking. Coworking occupies a massive – 10.7 million sq. ft of office space solely in Central London. 

In a recent, CBRE’s shared office report the coworking trend is “expected to experience a 5-year compound average annual growth rate of 21%.” 

 This chronological snapshot alongside the recent statistics depicts that coworking has had an over the top, explosive and continual growth.  Thankfully, even though it has transformed in a handful of ways – its core values are still intact. Coworking brings out the best in people and we couldn’t be more happier to be managing one of our own coworking spaces – The Address