Coworking (also called “co-working”) designates a third place bringing together different profiles of workers exercising an activity in diversified sectors. Today, this concept has been developed and we find these collaborative spaces all over the world …

The birth of Coworking

In its early days, the notion of a shared workspace did not always resemble the image that we have of it today. The concept first appeared in the famous Parisian artist workshops of the last centuries and was based on the same principles: come together to share opinions and inspirations, while spreading the cost of rents.

Google Loves Me Workshop

In the fall of 1995, one of the very first hackerspaces in the world in Germany was founded by 17 people, the “C-base”. Their motto, “being compatible with the future”, invites members to share their ideas and opinions to build a future built on positive and constructive thinking. Experts generally agree to consider this space as the first coworking space.

In 2002, in Austria in Vienna, a similar space was born: the “Schrauben Fabrik”. Originally a community center for businesses, it is now one of the largest co-working networks in Europe.

The first coworking space defined as such was born in San Francisco in 2005, created by Brad Neuberg under the name “The Hat Factory”.

“At the time, I worked for a startup and I didn’t feel good there. Previously, I worked as a consultant and I didn’t like it either. I was a bit lost because I could not combine everything I wanted: the freedom and independence of freelance work and the structured and collaborative dimension of group work. I finally created a new type of place that met all of these needs and called it “coworking.”

Brad Neuberg

First coworking spaces in England

It was in 2007 that the concept went viral, Google lists the term “coworking” as a real trend on its search engine. This enthusiasm of Internet users reflects the growing need for coworking spaces.

In England, after the 2008 economic crisis, many people are looking to work for themselves. Following the loss of their jobs, more and more of them are embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure, and are starting to work from home. Very quickly, they become aware of the difficulties in carrying out their activity from their home. The lack of space, the feeling of loneliness, the lack of motivation, the conflicts between professional and personal life.

The Silicon Sentier association notes the emergence of new needs among independent French people. A demand that they respond to by offering a place of work outside their home where workers can interact with other people in their situation and all this at a reasonable price. “La Cantine” opened its doors in Paris in 2008. It is a large shared workspace which aims to bring together all the self-employed who are tired of working alone at home.

This establishment is only the beginning of a long series of more original and collaborative collaborative workspaces! But concretely, what is the extent of the phenomenon?

Evolution of coworking spaces in a few figures

In 2018, there were 1.7 million * (in the first quarter of 2018, Source: Knight Frank, Deskmag, Nexudus, essensys, GCUC) of coworkers in the world when they were only 21,000 in 2010! This vertiginous ascent is accompanied by the creation of new and larger coworking spaces around the world. Between 2018 and 2012, the number of infrastructures of this type was multiplied by 10 * (Source: tbcrm.fr).

The graph below shows the evolution of coworking space openings in the world each year in square meters between 2008 and 2017, as well as the average size of the spaces. We can see that since 2013, the market has been constantly expanding, with a slight drop in 2015. We also note that the new spaces are becoming larger, with an average of 1,441 m² reached in 2017.

Annual openings and average size of spaces in m² – Arthur & Loyd

The French capital has not escaped this global phenomenon. The French market attracts major players such as Nextdoor, a subsidiary of Bouygues Immobilier, which opened a 4,700m² space in La Défense in early September, with 50 fixed workstations and 450 modular offices. The rapid French expansion has not escaped the attention of the American giant Wework, the “unicorn” of coworking valued at $ 16 billion, which invested in May in a building on rue Lafayette, in Paris.

More and more companies are investing in co-working spaces, like Bouygue Construction and Accor hotels, which joined forces to open coworking spaces in 2018 in England.

Even if the market is still young (less than ten years in England), it is starting to structure itself with networks like “La Cordée”, historically based in Lyon, which now has 11 spaces in six cities, or Startway which lists 11 in the Paris region, as well as emblematic places like the “Cantine” in Paris.

While there were 20 spaces in 2012, there are today only 217 in Ile de England. The pace has accelerated so much in recent years that the French capital has become the third city in the world with the most coworking space, behind New York and Barcelona.