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June 13, 2019

The evolution of coworking | rent24 Global

Coworking has been a buzzword in the world of work for a very long time. The phenomenon is trending worldwide and luckily for those who freelance, work remotely, or run startups it has become a regular part of life. However,  it has not always been like that. Coworking has evolved into an innovation method, a philosophy, many different concepts and it has a lot to do with digitalism. That’s why we’re going to go into more detail about the history of coworking here. Follow us on this journey to understand what coworking is based on and read a story that might be different from the one you’ve already heard.

A short history of coworking

The evolution of coworking has many facets and consists of a lot of different stages.  The following overview shows the development from the idea of ​​working together to a concept. From the first mentioning of the term to the working model of today, we cover the most important decades.

1628: In the beginning there was god

For the very first time, the positive effects of coworking are praised in the book “Ecclesiastes. The worthy church-man … described … in a synod-sermon” published in 1628. John Jackson pinpoints coworking as “powerful cooperation” between God and his earthly representatives on earth.  

1995: And then there was Berlin

Fast forward to the 20th century and we are in the age of digitalism. With the foundation of “c-base” in Berlin, one of the first so-called hacker communities in the world emerges. The working group represents a preliminary step to coworking spaces since it fulfills all the necessary conditions: Innovative people work together in one place, creating a new kind of community spirit. 

1999: Influences from the American game scene

Bernard Louis De Koven, an American game designer, founds the first concept around the term “coworking”. He describes the advantage of business collaboration through a shared work environment. His main concern is to break up hierarchies and isolation. Being known as a “groupware pioneer” he believes that software could not only support collaboration across time and distance but also on equal terms.

In the same year, Boyle Software in New York, a company for custom computer software, extends its space. In contrast to office communities, they offer flexible desks on a monthly basis, which met a great demand among business communities, especially after the Internet bubble burst in 2001.

2002: The first local coworking network in Vienna

In Vienna, Stefan Leitner-Sidl and Michael Pöll found the “Schraubenfabrik” which is supposed to be a “community center for entrepreneurs”. Under the umbrella of the “Konnex Communities” the “Hutfabrik” (2004) and the “Rochuspark” (2007) join a while later, creating the first local network of coworking spaces.

2005: The first ever coworking space in San Francisco

In January, “The Hub” is founded at the Angel Station in London. Being the first ever founded innovation hub its founders call the space a “factory of possibilities” which evolves into a franchise network of over 40 coworking spaces worldwide.

In August, the first official coworking space is opened by programmer Brad Neuberg in the “Spiral Muse”, a feminist collective located in San Francisco. Neumeier later co-founds the first full-time coworking space “Hat Factory” and the Coworking Wiki. In response to unsocial business centers and horrendous office rents, his concept spreads across the US.

In Germany, the “St. Oberholz” opens its doors offering coffee, Wifi, and open-plan office space. One year later, its visitors are presented in the book “We call it work – The digital bohème or the intelligent life beyond permanent employment”. In response to the book, the German coworking movement begins to flourish and with the foundation of the coworking space “Business Class Net” (BCN) in Berlin the first global network of coworking spaces is created.

2007: The birth of the coworking movement

Wikipedia includes “Coworking” in its lexicon and the term appears in Google’s trend database for the very first time. Mainstream media starts to cover the phenomenon and the first coworking meet-ups and conferences such as the Coworking Unconference are held. The idea is to establish decentralized resources for coordinating the activities of coworking communities around the world. At the end of 2010, around 600 coworking spaces exist worldwide and the number is still rising.

The fundamental values of coworking

Coworking is ultimately a very meaningful way to bring people together. You get the freedom and independence to work for yourself, but at the same time, you benefit from a purposeful infrastructure and a community of professionals. It is a self-determined, collaborative and flexible work style that is based on open-source thinking and the sharing of common core values between its participants.


Some of the key elements that make coworking the special thing that it is have been defined by the people who are responsible for shaping it into a global movement. Along with the participation of the global coworking community, they have adopted a set of five core values that collectively epitomize what coworking is about:

  • Community
  • Openness
  • Collaboration
  • Sustainability
  • Accessibility

What coworking means at rent24

Anyone joining a coworking space by rent24 does not simply rent a desk or office in a cozy environment but becomes a member of a network of innovative people. Our members define themselves through meaningful work but while they are spending many hours on their projects, they enjoy life to the fullest as we secure they stay as flexible and independent as possible.

In addition, we offer an event calendar packed with community meet-ups, free masterclasses, pitch meetings, and health-promoting lessons. On these occasions, we connect people, because we believe that we all live in a time when technology is incredibly important but more important is the human exchange and, therefore, being part of a community. The rent24 app is a helpful digital space similar to LinkedIn and Facebook that makes it easy to stay connected on the go.

Author: Aline Dörfert

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