Recently, a trend of co-working environments emerged, specifically in cities with high technology-sector employment. Starting in 2007, you could find independent contractors — mostly members of Generation X — toiling away at sparsely decorated hubs with other workers, simply to mimic a traditional workspace without the buttoned-up chokehold of a corporate workspace.
Thanks to millennials, co-working is starting to re-emerge, and we’re now in the second phase of the co-working movement.
Originally, co-working spread as an alternate environment, a challenge to the cold white walls of corporate America. Today, co-working is more a consequence of reality — millennials laid off and breaking away from established corporations are increasingly finding desirability in independent contracting and freelance work.
But, as we’ve reported, millennials seek human connection; we know millennials will pounce on social media or take a quick break to get away from workplace realities. We also know they want to feel assured in their thinking. That, along with the explosion of cloud-based and network-based technologies — making it easy to share and brainstorm with like-minded individuals — make co-working tempting for these newly self-employed millennials.
CoCo — with three co-working locations in Minneapolis — is adding to its inventory of spaces in July with a fourth site. In 2016, WeWork will open a 30,000-square-foot co-working space in the heart of one of Philadelphia’s most popular millennial neighborhoods, Northern Liberties. In smaller communities, co-working is slowly catching on — a project called the Wilds was seeking $7,000 on Kickstarter for development in Bend, Oregon — but for now, the highest concentration of co-working spaces remains in large urban areas.
Co-working has been booming for years in Europe. A conference each year unites co-workers to discuss trends like growth in Africa and self-vacation policies. London remains a co-working hub, with a website (coworkinglondon.com) devoted to mapping co-working spaces displaying dozens of sites within a 10-mile radius.
With renewed interest in co-working comes the need for associated industries, specifically office furniture. Vitra. has been a leading manufacturer of co-working furniture, and in Minneapolis, iSpace Furniture filled the demand created by CoCo’s four spaces.