History of Coworking

Coworking seems to be a regular part of life for those who do freelancing, work remotely, or run startups today, but this was not always the case. The story of coworking began in 2005, and it has evolved dramatically ever since. Brad Neuberg is credited with starting the coworking phenomenon and making the very first coworking space. Since the rise of coworking, Neuberg saw all the misconceptions going around and decided to set them straight with a detailed blog post that confirms what inspired him to start a coworking space and how the idea evolved.

Brad Neuberg
‍Brad Neuberg is credited with opening the first coworking space in 2005

How and Why It Began

As mentioned, Neuberg came up with the idea of coworking spaces in 2005. He was working at a startup but had conflicting feelings as he wanted to be able to combine the feeling of independence and freedom associated with working by himself with the community feel and structure of working in the same space and with others. Neuberg worked with a life coach and created a three-part plan that included making a new type of space that delivered that structure and community feel he wanted, giving birth to coworking.

Before the Term

Although Neuberg began the first official coworking space, there had been similar ideas around for years. One perfect example is C-base, which was founded in Berlin in 1995 and was among the first hackerspaces around the world. Many consider these hackerspaces to be pre-models of the modern coworking spaces. Then, in 1999, 42 West 24 arrived in New York City, which had flexible desks for teams and individuals. It was a precursor to coworking spaces without the community aspect.

The first coworking space
The first coworking space was opened in 2005

The First Coworking Space

According to Neuberg, the very first coworking space to exist was San Francisco Coworking Space, which was at Spiral Muse. Neuberg had friends in the space of Spiral Muse, a feminist collective. He mentioned his coworking idea to one of them, Elana Auerbach. She let him use the space at Spiral Muse twice a week for a total of $300 a month, earning any profits past that for himself. With Neuberg’s dad providing the first few months’ rent for the space, the San Francisco Coworking Space officially began. The first official coworker in the space way Ray Baxter, a startup developer, athlete, and father. This was followed by the second coworking space at the Hat Factory. That new space became necessary after around a year, as there simply was not enough room in Spiral Muse.

Other Early Coworking Spaces

2005 was a busy year for the history of coworking, with more than just San Francisco Coworking Space arriving. The very first Hub arrived at the Angel Station in London, which has since become a huge franchise network. Additionally, St. Oberholz in Germany opened that year as one of the very first cafes that had free internet access, encouraging the coworking trend.

Coffee shops
‍Coffee shops with free internet were a precursor to coworking spaces

The Biggest Coworking Spaces Today

Today, there are dozens of major coworking space companies around the world, including franchises with branches in multiple cities. Among the biggest are Impact Hub, WeWork, and Industrious Office.

Today WeWork is world's leading coworking space provider
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