Today is Cowork Frederick’s 7th birthday. I can’t think of a better day to reflect on our story and to look back at the very beginnings of coworking.
It’s Glen’s fault. : )
I was introduced to the concept of coworking in 2009 when Glen (my partner in life and in business) mentioned it during a long car ride. It was clear what he was describing was more than working around each other. It was a grass-roots movement, aimed at changing how we work. At the heart of the movement was a set of values. Values meant to break down barriers, about treating not just our work, but each other, differently. It was about being open, sharing, and connecting, about helping each other. We immediately knew we wanted to be a part of it.
Free spirits and creators
It all started in 2005 in San Francisco with a guy named Brad Neuberg who was unhappy with his work situation. Having worked for himself (alone) and also as an employee and not being happy with either, he decided to create something that would provide both the community and the structure he hungered for. In an August 9 blog post he announced, “This week is the first week of coworking” and went on to describe the problem coworking would solve:
“Traditionally, society forces us to choose between working at home for ourselves or working at an office for a company. If we work at a traditional 9 to 5 company job, we get community and structure, but lose freedom and the ability to control our own lives. If we work for ourselves at home, we gain independence but suffer loneliness and bad habits from not being surrounded by a work community.“
Brad invited “free spirits and creators” to “come together in community, sitting at tables or relaxing on couches as we do our work.” and noted that “even though each of us is doing separate work, perhaps programming or writing a novel, we can feel each other’s presence, run ideas by the community, or take breaks together at the watercooler.”
It was about much more than a desk. It was about connecting with and helping others and a way of working that is healthier and happier.
Today, for many coworking communities, the essence of coworking remains remarkably true to Brad’s vision. A 2018 global study conducted by Emergent Research revealed:
- There are 14,000+ coworking spaces (differentiated from telework centers & office suites).
- Independently owned and operated spaces (like Cowork Frederick) make up 93% of them.
- Over 1 million people are coworking members in those spaces.
- 89% of people reported being happier as a product of working in a shared space.
- 84% are more engaged and motivated.
- 73% of the people polled say they maintain their sanity through coworking.
- 83% those polled reported being less lonely.
Onward Cowork Frederick
Cowork Frederick opened our doors September 4, 2012 with 20 members. As of this writing, we have 50 members. It’s been a great journey and one of the things I’m most proud of (Glen too). We’ve met and worked side-by-side with so many motivated, interesting, bold, innovative, caring, giving, amazing people. We’ve learned so much from them along the way and those people get the credit for who we are today.
There’s so much more in store and we can’t wait to roll out some really great things for the coming year. Stay tuned!