Community, collaboration and productivity all have one thing in common: They are all benefits of the new co-working movement.
Co-working sites, which first appeared in the United States in 2006, are collegial, shared open-plan areas where people work independently but communally. Members are varied in what they do and why they join, but they include telecommuters, entrepreneurs, freelancers and other independents weary of working from a coffee shop or home, and those in search of a social network.
The spaces and amenities vary, but typically include free Wi-Fi and coffee, as well as a copier, whiteboards and conference rooms. Membership plans usually are based on usage—from one day a month to five days a week—and whether one wants a dedicated or communal desk or table at which to work. Some sites discourage telephone conversations; others have few or no restrictions. Some don’t mind if you drop in unannounced for a look, but others prefer appointments. A few have even provided day care.
Co-working is a growing trend. Worldwide, there were more than 100,000 people working at more than 3,000 co-working spaces last fall, including 937spaces in the United States, according to Deskmag, the official online magazine of co-working.
To find the nearest co-working office near you, visit the co-working wiki directory—which, appropriately enough, is maintained by the community of co-workers worldwide.