You probably haven’t noticed the increase of professionals who have turned to freelancing, or the number of coworking spaces that continue to pop up all over the country (and the world). Why would you, though? A lot of people don’t even know what shared office space is, let alone have tracked its growth over the years.
Let me put it this way: in 2005 there was one coworking space in the U.S.. In 2013, there were over 3,000. The number of freelancers in the country in 2015 was almost 54 million, an increase of 700,000 from the year before. That study is now a year old–wait, it’s 2017 now–that study is two years old, but studies take time to conduct and analyze, people.
To put it simply, shared office space has grown reliably over the past decade, and freelancing in general has recently experienced a boom. The two don’t necessarily share a cause-and-effect relationship, but they’re mutually beneficial, and I think it’s safe to assume that those numbers will continue to grow, or at the very least, remain steady. Feel free to check out the in-depth study by Freelance Union and Upwork to decide for yourself. But if I’m right, and I usually am, the high number of individuals who freelance, whether they do it full-time or as a side gig, will continue to populate shared office space.
Millennials are the first generation to embrace freelancing, which can be defined as supplemental, temporary, and project- or contract-based work. 64% of freelancing Baby Boomers do so by choice, making them the generation with the most voluntary freelancers, just inching past Millennials.
Some professionals freelance on the side, in addition to their regular 9-5 job. Others rely entirely on their freelance earnings. In fact, 78% of freelancers who left a traditional job earned more money within their first year of freelancing. Half of all freelancers wouldn’t return to a 9-5 job, even if it offered more money.
There’s clearly something to this whole freelance thing. Who wouldn’t want that flexible schedule and the freedom to pick and choose which projects you work on? Freelancing gives you time to pursue your passions outside of work, or conversely, to pursue your passions as work.
I can’t speak for everyone, but based on my own experience, freelancers initially opt to work from home or a coffee shop. Home is inexpensive and convenient. Coffee shops get you out of the house and add variety. But eventually, neither option cuts it anymore. Home is isolating and coffee shops don’t have the professional services you need. Plus there are tons of people hogging the Wi-Fi.
This is where shared office space comes in. Services like phone and internet are taken care of for you, and basic amenities and furnishings are provided. By minimizing these trivial tasks, you can better focus on your work.
Each shared office space is different. They’re typically open floor plans with a comfy common area decorated with hip prints and warm colors. That casual layout appeals to a lot of freelancers, and many traditional office spaces are taking notes and re-designing their cold, corporate offices to attract the new wave of young professionals.
Some start-ups and freelancers like that traditional vibe, though; as long as it doesn’t involve sitting elbow to elbow in a shared cubicle. They might feel like there are fewer distractions and interruptions when they have a private workspace. But the perks of shared office space, like networking and Taco Tuesday (just to name two) entice traditionalists to consider coworking. There are so many options these days, everyone is almost guaranteed to find a shared office space that works for them.
Some coworking spaces aim to attract a diverse community, where there’s no shortage of potential members to fill space. A huge benefit to these spaces are the professional services that they offer. The downside to services in a diverse coworking space is that they usually aren’t relevant to all members. On the other end of the spectrum are shared offices spaces that target niche communities, like tech start-ups. The patronage of those start-ups are what coworking spaces initially thrived on, and because of that success and growth, other coworking spaces target niche communities with services and equipment that might otherwise be too expensive or difficult for members to access.
Working in a niche shared office space gives you opportunities to learn from and collaborate within the community. And of course, referrals from the network you create is major benefit to working in a shared office space. These connections make members more likely to renew their lease, keeping their particular shared office space in business, potentially even creating demand for that space to branch out. And due to the short nature of some leases, there’s a revolving door of new people to connect with and learn from.
Mentorship is one of the strongest connections made by working in a shared office space. Because so many members are part of a start-up or are new to running their own business, some coworking spaces offer mentoring services to increase their members’ chance of success. The mentors at IgniteHQ, for example, are available to offer advice and insight, and services like events, seminars, and potentially act as partners or investors (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves). In typical coworking fashion, their hours are flexible so they can work with mentees’ schedules.
Coworking spaces have a variety of lease lengths; many offer use for a single day, so you can check it out. What are you waiting for?