Coffee shops have been the freelancer’s favorite working space outside the home for a while, but now there’s a new option that offers fewer distractions and better resources: the co-working space.
Co-working spaces provide office space for those who don’t have an office to report to. Instead, they offer the amenities of a cafe or home office but with a bit more.
For one, these spaces give workers access to high-speed internet, printers, and, in many, a fresh pot of coffee. However, they also offer the necessities for collaboration, which is great for both individuals and small start-up enterprises.
And many of the offices have trendy set-ups, with shared and private workstations, fully equipped conference rooms, modern office furniture, and sustainable, high-efficiency picture windows that offer a great view of city skylines.
These offices are becoming more numerous around the United States. In recent years, 19 such spaces have opened in the Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor areas alone, such as Bamboo Detroit and Grand Circus Detroit.
So how does one get into a co-working space? Although these offices are popping up in cities all over the country, the fees for joining can vary widely.
In larger cities, such as New York City where office space is at a premium, the cost of joining a co-working space could be as high as $500 a month or more.
Other spaces, like one in Miami, FL, cost just $50 a month to join. And one, called Coffee and Power in San Francisco and Santa Monica, is free, but members have to work for it by doing tasks for other members.
But no matter where they are located, these spaces are all driven by one thing: the freelancer.
Bamboo Detroit’s co-founder Amanda Lewan, who is herself a longtime freelance writer, explains the appeal. “I think freelancing became more popular as more people were able to access technology,” she says.
Jake L’Ecuyer, a member of Grand Circus Detroit, also believes in the appeal of the co-working space. While working from home or in a coffee shop drives him to distraction, L’Ecuyer says, “Having people around me talking and shooting the breeze and kind of stretching my legs, I think it’s fun. If I need to lock down, I throw my headphones on.”
The trend is showing no signs of slowing down, either. Jim Boyle, senior program officer at philanthropy group New Economy Initiative, predicts that co-working spaces “will soon be driving economies everywhere” with more than one million people working out of more than 12,000 shared offices over the next five years.