Coworking history, The Hub’s perspective.
How does The Hub Newry fit in to the history of coworking?
Today, coworking is huge. Spaces all around the world cater to all kinds of workers looking for a more flexible, productive environment. The first coworking offices only really cropped up twenty or so years ago, yet coworking has already exploded into the mainstream. There is good reason for this.
Coworking fulfils a need that is ever-growing in the business world. The first spaces were set up to give self-employed workers a space which offered them the focus and community that wasn’t possible to find at home. This simple idea has flourished as more and more people work remotely, freelance or set up businesses. Coworking spaces perfectly suit this growing workforces needs and actually improves their productivity, workplace satisfaction and work/life balance.
The Hub Newry upholds the important traditions of coworking. We continue to be a provider that values community and eliminates hierarchy in the workplace. We provide a friendly and vibrant workspace for a wide variety of workers, from local freelancers to travelling corporate remote workers. The Hub Newry are also founding members of the Irish Coworking Council, helping support coworking across Ireland.
Given that we aim to maintain these core values developed throughout coworking’s short history, we wanted to look at that history as well as our place in it.
1995 – In the autumn of 1995, seventeen computer engineers create one of the first ever ‘hackerspaces’, C-Base, in Berlin, Germany. Hackerspaces are obvious precursors to coworking spaces. The hackerspace is intended as a not-for-profit space which brings together computer enthusiasts, offering them facilities, as well as an opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge and equipment. Given the dawn of the internet, computer engineers no longer need a fixed place to work, so the space is set up to give them a place to work alongside others in their field, where they can collaborate and share new ideas.
1999 – Bernard DeKoven coins the phrase ‘coworking’. However, the term refers to something different than today’s concept of coworking. DeKoven, a game designer, uses ‘coworking’ to refer to the way we work, not the space that we work in. He hopes to evolve ways of working that involve collaboration, a breakdown of hierarchy and seeing co-workers as equals.
1999 – 42 West 24, another precursor to the coworking spaces we know today, opens in New York City. The space is started by a software company and provides the impressive work environment and short-term flexible desk space we know of coworking today. However, the space places no emphasis on the community aspect of coworking, not focusing on networking or events. Despite this, 42 West 24 is still a huge breakthrough, with members still enjoying the appealing work environment and flexible desk space to this day.
2002 – Two Austrian entrepreneurs set up an ‘entrepreneurial center’, Schraubenfabrik, in an old factory in Vienna. The space is aimed at entrepreneurs, giving them a place to avoid having to work from home, where they can collaborate and work with like-minded people. The space included architects, PR consultants, startups and freelancers. This space is clearly the mother of coworking and although not called a ‘coworking space’, it’s undoubtedly a clear precursor to what we know today.
2005 – On August 9th, Brad Neuberg sets up the first ever official coworking space, San Francisco Coworking Space, at a feminist collective called Spiral Muse in the Mission district of San Francisco. The space is intended to maintain the freedom of working independently whilst providing the structure and community of working with others. Neuberg has to pay $300 (£230) a month to use the space for two days a week. For the first month, no one turns up. After more outreach from Neuberg, an athlete and startup developer named Ray Baxter arrives, becoming the spaces first member and in turn the world’s first official coworker.
2006 – From 2006, the number of coworking spaces and coworking members approximately doubles each year for the next seven years. This exponential growth will soon become known as the coworking revolution.
2009 – “I’m Outta Here! How coworking is making the office obsolete” is released. This is the first book on coworking and charts the course of the people and the places involved in the coworking revolution, as well as how coworking is changing the way we view the traditional office.
2010 – The first online magazine about Coworking, Deskmag, goes online on July 10th. The magazine is based in Berlin and covers all aspects of coworking, writing articles on the development, function and design of coworking spaces.
2010 – On the 19th and 20th of November, the first coworking conference takes place in Brussels. The event brought together over 150 thinkers, owners, activists and policymakers together to discuss the potential of coworking in Europe.
2012 – The Hub Newry opens in Newry, Northern Ireland. In the same vein that many coworking spaces have come to be, The Hub Newry is founded as a solution for self-employed workers looking for a more functional space. Founders, Suzanne and Patrick Murdock, let out desks in their space and, before they know it, become a part of the important history of coworking. The Hub Newry now consists of three spaces across Newry, an important business hub between Dublin and Belfast. The space is dedicated to supporting their diverse community of members, the environment, sustainability and driving economic growth.
2014 – There are currently 5,780 coworking spaces worldwide with 295,000 members.
2017 – This is the year that coworking finally cracks one million coworkers worldwide.
2018 – London is currently the capital of coworking, with more coworking spaces than New York, San Francisco and Berlin. Coworking occupies 10.7 million square feet of office space in Central London alone.
One study predicts that 5 million people will be coworking by 2022. Coworking has managed to explode into such a phenomenon because workers yearn for a space where they can meet like-minded people, share ideas and work productively and effectively. As coworking changes and expands, our locations across Newry make sure to hold on to these key ideas. We welcome a diverse community with open arms and give them a space where they can connect, share and succeed. The History of Coworking