The growing phenomenon of co-working spaces – places where individuals can rent a desk of their own while sharing a range of other facilities with their co-tenants – is as indicative of the changing nature of work as almost any metric you care to name.
Although many see the casualisation of the workforce that this growth represents as an inherently bad thing – rightly focusing on the way in which technology is tending to convert full-time work into part-time “gigs” – there may well be a big upside. Co-working is a model that gives workers themselves, the digital nomads of gig economy, more control over their working lives.
How big is the sector? Small Business Labs, an organisation that monitors it around the world, suggests that the number of people renting such spaces will grow globally from just under 1m in 2016 to nearly 4m in 2020.
According to research by user experience researchers Melissa Gregg and Thomas Lodato, co-working can be a positive choice for many freelancers . They argue that, in part, such workers are seeking “relief from the emotional demands of the corporate office”.