This is crystal clear in the fact that large companies and organisations are now seeking to enhance the workplace experience so as to attract and retain talent, and that a significant percentage of workers who have the option to work from home prefer to work from a coworking space.
In fact, statistics show that, coworking now takes up 27million sq feet of office space across the United States. There are currently 14,411 coworking spaces in the world today. The number of coworking members will rise to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022.
So if you are in Nairobi, and looking into coworking in Nairobi… what exactly will you be looking at? Let me take you a little bit back to where it all started.
If taken literally though the coworking concept has been around for as long as life has existed. From working in the farms, to putting structures into place and even when our ancestors went hunting and the slaves built the pyramids, co-working has been widely involved.
Fast forward to today though, coworking as we know today was coined in 2005 by Brad Neuberg who started the first coworking movement in San Francisco with the idea to combine the independence of freelancing with the structure and community of an office space.
To do this, he invented the word “coworking” with no hyphen. Coworking how we experience it today was preceded by European hacker spaces of the 1990s, where programmers would exchange skills and best practices.
Some coworking places were also developed by nomadic Internet entrepreneurs seeking an alternative to working in coffee shops and cafes, or to isolation in independent or home offices.
According to Wikipedia, coworking is defined as a style of work that involves a shared workplace, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office though, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. In fact, most of them have or work for different organizations.
Typically, it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, independent scientists, researchers or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation.
However, the coworking concept is also seeing a shift with bigger organizations and corporations moving in to adopt this concept. For example, at Nairobi Garage we are home to some of the biggest companies including Carlsberg, world’s largest brewer, Trama TecnoAmbiental, one of the world’s largest solar companies, MEST Africa, Africa Leadership University (ALU) just to mention but a few.
Coworking is a social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other.
Coworking offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home. It generally costs money in the form of membership dues, though some spaces are free of charge.
Some of the best coworking spaces also help companies flourish and act as incubation centres for most companies that are starting off. For example in about four years of its operation in Kenya Nairobi Garage has incubated some of the most successful startups in Africa, including Ghafla!Kenya, Futaa.com, Code for Africa, Yum Kenya, HiviSasa, Mdundo, M-Changa, Umati Capital, Branch International, Twiga Foods and many more companies
Coworking has a wide range of benefits for any organization or entrepreneurs seeking to join a community of like-minded people.
Networking: Ask any successful business people and they will tell you that to reach the top, they had to connect, network and interact with other like-minded business people. Through networks, you get to learn and gather business insights that you wouldn’t have gathered anywhere else. A coworking space offers just that a network of business people who share the same focus of growing their businesses to the next level.
Coworking puts you near people who might have vastly different skillsets or solutions to problems, allowing you to “pick their brains”. If you can find a coworking space that aligns with your field of work, it makes this benefit all the stronger.
Cost effective: If you are starting a business and you need to set-up an office, anyone who has been there and done that will tell you the baggage that comes with it. From finding a suitable location, to of installing infrastructure and taking care of utility bills that drain cash and time which most of the time is expensive.
Most coworking spaces are quite affordable and offer packages that best suit anyone at whichever level of business they are in. In case you have decided that it is time to get an office, a coworking space makes a lot more financial sense than renting your own office. Also, regular office rental requires signing long term contracts, usually for a minimum period of one year. Coworking spaces allow you to rent your Table or even a room for a few days, weeks or a month and allow you to focus on what counts: Your work.
Accessibility: Most coworking spaces are in areas that are easily accessible to both the business owners as well as their clients. They are situated in central places. In relation to accessibility, most coworking spaces are accessible 24/7 to the members making it easy for different people to work with the time that best suits them.
Let’s you concentrate on your core business: Most coworking spaces offer all the basic amenities for you and ensure they create an environment that is friendly enough to drive your productivity. Most coworking spaces offer coffee, printing services, admin services, cleaning services as added value services allowing you to concentrate and work on your business.
Flexibility: Working in a co-working space gives you the flexibility to make your office space according to your needs. You can arrange your contract according to your needs. If you have a team of 5 people, you can get a room to accommodate 5 people and then, change it to get a bigger room or more space, if your team becomes larger. Also, co-working spaces have other services such as secretary and mailing. Therefore, entrepreneurs do not need to hire a physical office with the help of these services and can cut their costs.
In summary, coworking is a great solution, and will no doubt shape a lot of the future labor market. And while we can’t accurately predict whether the term will still be in existence some years from now there is no denying that coworking is today’s normal.
Are you looking for a fully-serviced work space solution, as well as the chance to grow your network with quality, innovative businesses? You’ve come to the right place – Check out our membership packages.