What is Coworking?

Posted on: 3rd May 2023

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Coworking is a flexible working model involving people from different organisations sharing an office, facilities and equipment. It’s a collaborative working style that encourages creativity and shared knowledge in a way that’s not always possible in a traditional office. New startups and established companies alike benefit from coworking on many levels.

What is a coworking space?

Coworking spaces are generally set to house a busy workforce. It’s an open environment where people can work collaboratively alongside other professionals from different businesses. Some workspaces house several companies under one roof, in other instances they are flexible places for sole traders to rent.

Coworking spaces offer many of the same amenities found in traditional or private offices, with the benefit of a flexible working model and lower overhead costs. These often include provision of Wi-Fi, printers, a reception desk, mail team, and standard equipment. Some have the look and feel of a cafe, but include the facilities you need to run a business. Others are more formal, recreating an established office model in a shared setting.

There are different types of coworking offerings, some with more basic amenities, and others that are fully serviced with state-of-the-art equipment. It’s important to note the subtle differences between a shared office and a coworking space. The latter involves using desks in a shared working environment, and spaces are often open plan, whereas an office space is a private office for the sole use of you and your team.

Different types of coworking styles

• Dedicated desks. This is a permanent desk in a shared space, reserved for a specific person. Dedicated desks can be used every day with places reserved for belongings and computers.

Hot desks. A non-allocated desk is used by different people at different times on an ad-hoc basis. Hot-desking allows access to a desk within a ready-to-use office space. However that space is not fixed for use, so personal items and business equipment move with the user.

• Open workspaces. These open, flexible spaces are designed for joint collaboration. They may be designed with half-partition walls, as pods, or fully open.

• Private workspace. A space that's separated from communal areas by walls, allowing work to remain confidential.

• Shared offices. Flexible, open-plan offices with facilities and equipment from furniture to video conferencing tools.

The history of coworking

The concept of coworking has come a long way since its inception in the mid-nineties. Back then, a group of computer engineers developed a combined workspace in Berlin where they could share ideas, rooms, and facilities. The idea of a coworking office expanded rapidly to become more than just a way of working, as businesses saw the benefits of combining facilities and workforces at coworking spaces for both cost-saving and collaboration.

Coworking timeline

Coworking has been in existence, in some form, since the mid-90s, the inception of the concept founded on communal working.

• 1995, Berlin – computer hackers develop a shared space for combining knowledge, ideas and business know-how, and the idea spreads to different countries. A coworking space is also developed in New York.

• 2002, Vienna – freelancers set up a coworking space in an old factory, expanding under the company name 'Konnex Communities'.

• 2005, San Francisco – software engineer Brad Neuberg opens a coworking space that offers WiFi, lunch, and meditation sessions. Reopens in 2006 as ‘The Hat Factory’. Similar spaces launch in London and Germany.

• 2006, San Francisco – the launch of Coworking Wiki, Jellies, and more developments at The Hat Factory.

• 2007, Google – 'coworking' appears on the platform's database.

• 2015, Regus - acquires the Dutch-founded coworking brand Spaces, adding to it’s global workspace network of over 4,000 locations.

How has coworking grown over the years?

Space-sharing has become a captivating phenomenon in today's world, captivating the interest of people from all walks of life - from fledgling startups to larger corporations seeking flexible solutions.

Several surveys point to a post-Covid shift in ways of work. For example, an Office for National Statistics survey from May 2022 questions the longevity of hybrid working. It states that, in 2022, 84% of workers who worked from home during the Coronavirus pandemic planned to continue with a hybrid mix of home and office work.

A 2022 Statistica study on coworking found that, by 2019, there were nearly 19,000 coworking spaces, with freelancers being the largest coworking demographic. Though freelancers are the largest coworking demographic, following the recent shift to more cost-effective and hybrid working models, major companies are also seeking flexible solutions that allow their business to scale up or down, with the US seemingly leading the real estate coworking market.

Who uses a coworking space?

From sole traders to big companies like Nike, Microsoft and Facebook, there's an increasingly strong pull for social workspaces with water cooler moments that happen more organically, where creativity is engendered and encouraged.


Startups often prefer to rent flexible office space, allowing for changes to space as the new business grows. Fledgling companies may not have the bandwidth to think about organising desks and office equipment, so the ability to walk into an office that’s already set up is key.

It's also important for new companies to set a professional tone as they look to attract investors and partners. Coworking offices with receptionists and well-appointed meeting rooms provide a perfect backdrop for crucial business meetings.


Working as a sole trader can be isolating, and networking is not always easy. Working in the company of others allows freelancers to benefit from a creative, collaborative atmosphere as well as allowing access to office facilities such as printers and WiFi.

Digital nomads

Access to shared office spaces and facilities within different locations is ideal for workers who frequently travel. With many workspace providers offering coworking membership, it’s becoming increasingly easier for digital nomads to secure a suitable workspace on the go.

Large corporations and enterprises

For bigger businesses, the coworking model allows team growth in a fluid and more affordable way. Sharing office space with innovative startups is a strong pull for companies looking for shared creativity alongside productivity.

Non-profit organisations

Collaboration is a key factor for non-profit organisations wanting to meet like-minded professionals with whom they can form alliances.

What are the advantages of coworking?

Coworking provides much more than office hire, although that's the main benefit. Big companies can expand more cost-effectively, and freelancers can enjoy a sociable alternative to working from home.


Coworking spaces can scale to reflect the changing needs of a business.


Coworking involves sharing facilities and equipment, allowing for crucial savings on overhead costs. Coworking spaces provide all the facilities that a permanent office has for a fraction of the cost of owning or renting a building.


Productivity often comes from shared knowledge as well as shared resources. Collaborations are more straightforward, and sometimes more impactful when companies can physically work together.


Sharing a space with kindred thinkers is invaluable for companies wanting to inject energy and enthusiasm into a busy workforce. Networking is on-tap, with connections more easily formed in a shared environment.

Global cohesion

Some global coworking companies provide their members with access to offices worldwide, making them the ideal option for businesses that require a global presence. Staff can journey between sites, knowing they will be familiar with the office model as soon they arrive.

Alternatives to coworking offices

There are plenty of options for those unable to commit to a coworking space. Freelancers will already know about making use of communal spaces like libraries, cafes, and museum reading rooms. On sunny days, parks and public areas make fresh alternatives to working indoors, though probably not practical for more equipment than a laptop, phone and notebook.

What should a coworking space include?

With more companies looking for flexible office solutions, this way of working is fast becoming a competitive and popular trend. When looking to find a flexible coworking space suitable for your business, be clear on your requirements in advance:

• Consider the budget. Does the service offer a pay-as-you-go package where users can pay for only the space they use, and will users need to book spaces in advance or can they simply use the hot-desking option?

• Which locations are essential and which ones are desired, or preferred? A global company might need easy access to the nearest airport, while chic city firms may prefer to be in town.

• Consider the size of the workspace. Will the company be scaling up or down at short notice?

• How important are communal recreation areas and kitchens?

• Does the workforce require lockable doors and cabinets, and is a secure entry system important?

Cowork with Regus

All Regus coworking locations offer coworking and office spaces. There is the option of booking meeting rooms as an add-on, so businesses and individuals can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Depending on your business needs, Regus offers several packages that cater to a variety of business sizes and set-ups. Options range from 5-day packages to 10-day and unlimited-day packages.

• The lounge membership gives you drop-in access to business lounges anywhere in the world

• The Coworking and Day Office package allows you to pre-book spaces as needed.

• An Office package offers fully equipped spaces for professional day-to-day use.

• Enterprise packages offer fully flexible, customised solutions.

Talk to our helpful contact team for further enquiries or to discuss membership options.

How to secure your workspace

You can go online to book a Regus coworking space, or do it all through our easy-to-use app, where you can manage your account and bookings all in one place, reserving your favourite office location with real-time availability, and allowing you to secure a booking while you’re on the move.

To help you manage your account or discuss membership options, our contact team will be happy to set up a call and chat to you in person.

Our favourite coworking spaces

The White House, George Town - The White House is a modern and flexible workspace in central George Town, offering private offices, coworking memberships, and virtual office services. With a welcoming atmosphere and access to nearby amenities, this workspace is an ideal location for remote workers and digital nomads looking for a thriving center of innovation and modern working.

Capitol Piazza - Capitol Piazza in Singapore offers an ideal work-life balance with its premier office space and nearby attractions such as the Singapore Philatelic Museum and Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. The workspace's vintage furniture and art, combined with a great selection of nearby dining options, make for an inspiring and convenient working environment.

Ampla House, Ghent - Ampla House in Ghent offers a unique and homely working environment, with its wrought iron staircase, landscaped garden, and stunning marble reception. It provides a peaceful location away from the city's hustle and bustle, while still being conveniently close to amenities such as a museum, music venue, and cinema.

3017 Boiling Way, Atlanta - 3017 Boiling Way offers contemporary coworking and office space that encourages creativity and innovation, with access to premium restaurants, cafes and storefronts in a vibrant retail hub. Enjoy beautiful balcony views of the grounds and connect with like-minded innovators in a exclusive working environment.


Topics in this article

  • Work Trends


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