Coworking guide
Part 1 of 8

What is Coworking?

Coworking is broadly defined as when people from different businesses or professions assemble under the same office space or working environment — who are typically self-employed or working for other employers — and congregate in a communal setting with access to shared amenities and resources that they might not otherwise have at home or a commercial office space.

Waterman Coworking And Networking
Co-workers mingling at a coworking centre.
Pictured: Waterman Eastland

What about a Coworking Space?

A ‘Coworking Space’ is the collective term used for the various components of a coworking centre, such as hot desks, coworking areas, private offices, meeting rooms, breakout spaces and communal areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

A coworking space offers the same type of amenities that you would find in a typical commercial office space, if not more. However, the key differentiator between the two is flexibility and cost.

And since we’re in 2023, we cannot go past clarifying anything without asking our very own personal assistant, ChatGPT. We think it nails it on the head, of course. 

What Is A Coworking Space? According To Chatgpt
What is a Coworking Space? According to ChatGPT

What is the main concept of coworking?

The concept and goal of a shared workspace environment like coworking is to foster a community spirit and collaboration amongst its members while at the same time offering a more flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional commercial office space leasing.

Commercial office space leasing comes with some disadvantages, with long-term leases and high up-front capital costs being at the forefront. With coworking, the capital outlay and running costs of office space is spread amongst its members to bring down the average price of a workspace per its members. 

Pricing is generally fixed on a monthly basis, and you know exactly how much you’re going to pay without having to worrying about utility costs, body corp costs and et cetera.

The secret sauce to a thriving coworking centre

You can go to any commercial office space today and find almost the same sort of amenities that you would otherwise get in a coworking centre. However, most coworking businesses try to offer more to their members than just a workstation to work from through its community activities such as regular networking events, training seminars, charity events, end of year Christmas parties and much more.

Waterman Coworking Membership Community Events
Community Manager with coworking members at a charity BBQ event.
Pictured: Waterman Chadstone

The secret to a thriving coworking community is its Community Managers and their crucial role, which cannot be overstated.

Great community managers not only welcome new members with open arms and a warm and welcoming smile, but they also make all efforts to build a close-knit community between its members that can sometimes foster long-term relationships and provide.

Waterman Trustpilot Review For Community Managers
How community managers can positively impact their coworking members.
Source: Trustpilot

Other terms for Coworking Space

While ‘coworking space’ has gained more popularity over the years, it is also sometimes referred to by other names, including:

  • Incubators
  • Accelerators
  • Business Centres
  • Flexible Workspaces
  • Collaborative Workspaces
  • Innovation Centres
  • Shared Office Spaces
  • Serviced Offices

While these names may have slightly different connotations and may be used to describe specific types of coworking spaces, they all generally refer to shared workspaces where individuals and businesses can work in a collaborative and flexible environment.

Coworking Space Popularity On Google Trends
Coworking Space Popularity on Google Trends has really taken off from 2016 onwards

What's the difference between 'Coworking Space' and 'Shared Office Space'?

The terms “coworking” and “shared office space” are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two.

Coworking Space

‘Coworking’ generally refers to the open plan working areas in a  business centre, such as dedicated desks, hot desks and member lounges.

They are designed to provide a more social and interactive work environment where freelancers, entrepreneurs, and other independent professionals can work alongside one another, share ideas, and build relationships.

Coworking spaces often offer more than just a physical workspace. They also include events, workshops, and networking opportunities.

Shared Office Space

‘Shared Office Space’ can be used to refer to the business centre as a whole, or when talking about a private office space that utilises shared amenities and common or breakout spaces within the business centre.

Shared office spaces tend to focus more on providing individual workspaces for professionals who need a physical location to work from.

While there may be opportunities for networking and collaboration in a shared office space, it is typically not as central to the culture as it is in a coworking space.

Overall, the main difference between coworking and shared office space is the emphasis on community and collaboration in coworking, versus the provision of individual workspaces in shared office spaces.

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