Thanks to our lovely friends over at FreeOfficeFinder, we recently discovered a bit more about the history of coworking and the role Redbrick House plays in this vast evolving tapestry of workspaces.
Throughout the history of coworking, coworking spaces have often been more than just a work environment. They have often been set up to make the world a slightly better place, be it through political change, social responsibility or just offering a lonely freelancer a chance to collaborate and join a community. This is the ethos at Redbrick House, providing Bristol with a not-for -profit coworking space where all profits go back into supporting youth programmes to help local under-represented creatives to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
There is no doubt that in the last few years coworking has exploded. There are thousands of coworking spaces around the world all with their own personality. The variety of spaces available to freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups and anyone who needs a desk are incredible. There’s everything from international coworking companies offering huge spaces all across the globe to small coworking spaces just like us offering some community and support for local freelancers and start-ups.
FreeOfficeFinder recently delved into the history of coworking and found the top 5 most interesting moments from this new workspace revolution, so we thought we would share the coworking love!
In the autumn of 1995, seventeen computer engineers create one of the first ever ‘hackerspaces’, C-Base, in Berlin, Germany. Hackerspaces are obvious precursors to coworking spaces. The hackerspace is intended as a not-for-profit space which brings together computer enthusiasts, offering them facilities, as well as an opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge and equipment. Given the dawn of the internet, computer engineers no longer need a fixed place to work, so the space is set up to give them a place to work alongside others in their field, where they can collaborate and share new ideas.
In 2002, two Austrian entrepreneurs set up an ‘entrepreneurial center’, Schraubenfabrik, in an old factory in Vienna. This is often referred to as the mother of coworking. The space is aimed at entrepreneurs, giving them a place to avoid having to work from home, where they can collaborate and work with like-minded people. The space included architects, PR consultants, startups and freelancers. This space is clearly the mother of coworking and although not called a ‘coworking space’, it’s undoubtedly a clear precursor to what we know today.
On August 9th 2005, Brad Neuberg sets up the first ever official coworking space, San Francisco Coworking Space, at a feminist collective called Spiral Muse in the Mission district of San Francisco. The space is intended to maintain the freedom of working independently whilst providing the structure and community of working with others. Neuberg has to pay $300 (£230) a month to use the space for two days a week. For the first month, no one turns up. After more outreach from Neuberg, an athlete and startup developer named Ray Baxter arrives, becoming the spaces first member and in turn the world’s first official coworker.
Coworking visas are introduced, meaning that members of specific coworking spaces are given free access to other coworking spaces also included in the agreement. This means that workers who travel can use coworking offices all around the world without having to spend extra money and also develops the global coworking community. The key ideas around coworking and collaborative working are developed and continue to spread around the globe.
There are currently around 18,900 coworking spaces worldwide, with around 1.7 million coworking members, or coworkers. The coworking phenomenon is likely to keep growing, with forecasts predicting over 26,000 coworking spaces by 2020 with 3.8 million coworkers worldwide. This is quite exceptional growth in a relatively short span of only thirteen years – from one Ray Baxter, in Brad Neuberg’s little part-time space in San Francisco to millions of coworkers worldwide.