First Steps

Coworking First Steps: A Brief History of Coworking

Mar 3, 2020
Coworking First Steps: A Brief History of Coworking

If you’ve a part of the coworking movement for years, you probably take for granted the fact that our industry is close-knit and often operates on a first name basis. For anyone getting started in coworking today, it can be overwhelming.

With over ten years of trends, advice, styles, history, controversies, and guidelines; understanding what everyone’s talking about can be downright unintelligible if you haven’t been neck-deep in the coworking world for years. We’re highlighting some of the most valuable, most essential, and most relevant coworking content so you talk like an expert in no time.

This is the first part of a series that covers everything you need to know when you’re getting starting in coworking. Check out Cobot’s entire catalogue of resources on our website.

So what is coworking? What’s the history of the term and of the movement? And why do people feel so passionately about the “meaning” and “values” of coworking? Let’s take a look!

The Coworking Forum (Sometimes known as the Coworking Google Group)

This active forum connects coworking operators, vendors, and researchers from around the world. It‘s got almost ten years worth of content exploring topics such as finding the right technology for your space, dealing with difficult members, adapting to local trends, and how to market your space effectively.

With top-tier moderation, a solid core of contributors, and a welcoming community, sometimes the group can feel a bit like being part of a really great coworking space — where everyone’s constantly welcoming new members and bringing them up to speed on what makes coworking special.

The Coworking Manifesto

When coworking was shiny and new, many coworking operators were a part of the movement to change the way that people interacted with work. Some of the pioneers of coworking penned values that they believed were the underpinning of the community and outlined their goals.

Since this document was written, coworking has exploded in popularity and the movement now encompasses everything from local pop-ups to multinational, multi-billion dollar businesses, but if you want to understand why coworking took off, there’s no better way than to see what the original coworkers were talking about (and continue to advocate for).

Coworking Library

It’s shocking how few people know of the Coworking Library, as it’s one of the most valuable resources for coworking spaces looking to learn from their peers. In their own words: “This project’s goal is to provide an interdisciplinary open online database in which all current and former research about coworking can be found.”

There’s a wealth of knowledge, research, and facts about coworking, try typing in some keywords and see what you can find about your area of interest.


Want to dive into the data? Deskmag brings together data from coworking spaces in their comprehensive surveys on profitability, space utilization, regional breakdown, and more. It’s invaluable data — and they publish much of it in a free downloadable report.

In addition to raw data they take advantage of their detailed knowledge of coworking to provide insightful articles that back up their points with evidence, something that can be hard to find in any industry. Stay for a mix of historical trends, analyses, and educated estimates that can help you understand the technical background that informs the global coworking movement

The Origin Story of Coworking

Ok, this might be cheating a little, but we put together a series of short interviews with coworking pioneers from all across the world and asked about what got them into coworking, what they think of the movement, and how they see it developing into the future. It was born out of our interest in examining what people who have been around the community for a while thought about the scneen. If you’re looking for a peek into the minds of people who have been living coworking for years, this is it.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Did you read through all of these links? Congratulations! You have a solid foundation for understanding the current state of coworking. To understand where it’s going next, check out more of our guides here.

If you aren’t already using Cobot as your coworking management software, give it a go! You’ll find that our features can help you run your coworking space more effectively and grow your community. Just sign up for a free trial or a live demo session. And if you have questions, our support team is all ears!

Happy Coworking!


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