How Coworking and Community Translate into Dollars

Money - Jeff Belmonte

“Coworking” isn’t just a buzzword, although I may be preaching to the choir if you’re reading this blog. While the idea of sharing office space isn’t new, the idea of purposefully building a community of independent workers in a workspace—in other words, coworking—is growing like gangbusters. Many people recognize various benefits of coworking (such as the chance to get out of the house/cafe or to meet other creative professionals).

But a key aspect of coworking that is sometimes overlooked is the way coworking can boost income (for independents) and stimulate the economy (in a local area).

Coworking helps freelancers and independents make more money.

The first global coworking survey was recently completed, and more than 600 people from 24 countries participated. The results confirmed what many of us already experience in coworking: it’s a collaborative and community-oriented space that helps independents genuinely grow their business. As many coworking blogs have highlighted from the survey, 42% of survey respondents reported earning more money after joining a coworking space. And more than half said they work in teams more often since joining a coworking space.

Coworking helps the local economy.

The various ways that independents, freelancers and small business owners help boost and sustain a local economy can hardly be covered in a bullet point (I’ll save that discussion for another post, perhaps). But it’s true: a coworking space can help its local community’s economy. A soon-to-be coworking space in Portland originated from a developer’s need to creatively solve certain economic challenges in his industry. When Peter Bass, the developer, learned about coworking, he also saw the importance of community. “‘We’re trying to build a community,’ Bass said, ‘not just a place to go to work.’”

When it comes down to it, coworking isn’t about plopping together a bunch of laptop-toting freelancers under one roof. Coworking is about community. And “community” isn’t just a fuzzy, feel-good term: it’s critical to a thriving coworking space. For proof, see how often “community” is mentioned by coworkers, freelancers and entrepreneurs at coworking space New Work City in this video.

I’m curious… whether you’re a coworker or coworking space owner, have you witnessed other ways in which the coworking community has boosted income or the economy? Leave me a comment below!

Image Credit: Flickr – Jeff Belmonte

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  • A coworking spot can be a shot in the arm to the local restuarants, catering businesses, and other local businesses. A coworking community makes a new part of town a big part of their day and they go out for lunch, buy goodies, go to the local gym, etc. This is a flood of money to the local businesses directly from the members. I can see this directly in my coworking community and the local restaurants are getting to know us by name.

    Long term and more importantly a coworking community can make a part of town a hub of ideas and entrepreneurs. Similar to how artist or fashion designers in New York City flock to certain neighborhoods a coworking community can make a neighborhood ‘the place to be’ for developers, freelancers, and small businesses. This will have a long-term impact on a community and be one critical aspect of economic development.

  • Craig-thanks for your thoughtful comment! I agree with you. We throw a ton of money at Old Town where we are located. Between coffee breaks, cupcake runs, birthday present shopping and buying tickets to the theaters, I think we make up a significant portion of sales down here!

    As for a “hub for entrepreneurs” I’m seeing more and more that people who are leaving traditional employment to go out on their own are FAR more successful, more quickly, when they join a coworking space. Access to fresh ideas and tips and tricks from people who have been there are priceless!

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