By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

The workforce as we’ve known it has changed. Working from home isn’t uncommon anymore and the gig economy has grown by leaps and bounds. It all adds up to one of the biggest evolutions in how and where we work: Coworking.

Support for coworking is undeniable—it’s a rapidly-growing segment of the commercial real estate industry. But who uses coworking spaces and why are they so popular?

Understanding the appeal of coworking in the modern era comes from looking at how “work” has evolved. With more people free to create their own work arrangements, demand for flexible work environments has also risen. Coworking has emerged as the best solution to accommodate larger numbers of professionals with different demands—all under one roof.

What is coworking space?

The coworking space definition holds a lot of clues about who might find it valuable. This space-as-a-service model is defined as: A space supporting a group of people from different companies, working independently or collaboratively.

Coworking spaces offer the convenience of a professional environment and a social atmosphere, minus the rigid formalities of traditional offices. More important to today’s workforce is coworking’s relative accessibility and fee structure. Many offer a pay-as-you-go fee structure, with diverse options in most major metropolitan cities.

Read more: What is coworking?

Why use coworking spaces?

The biggest benefits of coworking spaces align with the current demands of an agile workforce.

Just because people can work from home doesn’t mean they want to. Work-life balance extends to remote workers who want a pseudo-office they can leave at the end of the day. “Leaving work at work” is easier when you can physically pack up at the end of the day and go home.

Coworking is also the perfect mix of social and professional in a single environment. Coffee shops tend to trend more social, while traditional workplaces are too rigid for many modern workers. At a coworking space, a person can choose to put their head down and work, chat leisurely with others, or take breaks when they want to. Coworking also supports general flexibility—like leaving to pick up a child from daycare or stepping out for a dental appointment in the middle of the day. There’s almost no rigidity in the coworking model.

Convenience also plays a role in the rise of coworking. Thanks to cloud computing, all remote workers need is high-speed Internet access to work. Coworking provides even more. Whether it’s access to food and drink or a space large enough to bring a team together, coworking delivers convenience in ways few other remote workspaces can.

Coworking has a diverse following

Coworking’s many benefits appeal to a diverse group of working professionals. Some, like consultants and freelancers, are familiar with working outside the traditional office. Others, like startups and new remote workers, find coworking a good bridge between what they know and this new style of work. Here are examples of professionals using coworking today:

  • Freelancers: Freelancers don’t have a home base outside of their actual home. Coworking helps break the monotony of working from home, while giving them social opportunities to expand their professional networks.
  • Business travelers: When far from the office and home, business travelers often turn to coworking spaces to get work done. For them, it’s the perfect blend of professional environment and accessible accommodations.
  • Remote workers: Employees who may only go into the office once or twice a week may have a difficult time transitioning. Coworking gives them the familiarity of a workplace with the unstructured convenience of working where and when they want.
  • Startups: Startups don’t always have the budget for office rent or building leases. Moreover, they may need space to collaborate in-person. Coworking keeps costs lower and under control, while providing the much-needed physical space to plan and execute.
  • Small businesses: Small, growing businesses—especially service-based companies—may find commercial real estate costs too high. They turn to coworking as a way to keep costs low without scattering their employees too far from a home base.
  • Consultants: Consultants operate outside the general scope of workplace operations. When they’re on the move, meeting clients, or working on a proposal, consultants need a space conducive to their professional and flexible demands. Coworking is that space.

As more of the workforce finds itself working remotely, the coworking scene will become even more diverse. Already, gig workers and niche professionals embrace coworking like the professionals listed above. The natural alignment of benefits and workforce trends makes coworking an appealing proposition for just about anyone.

The growing appeal of coworking

The widespread accessibility of coworking makes it easy for anyone to try. A well-run coworking space may find itself with a diverse pool of frequent visitors who attract more members through their dealings. As more people choose to work outside a traditional office, coworking becomes a natural draw. Anyone who can do their job remotely will recognize value in a coworking space.

Read more: Seven reasons to use coworking software.