Coworking Offers Employees More Than Office Space

05.12.2012, von Matthew Heusser

The three classic places to work are typically a dedicated office, home office or a coffee shop. All involve tradeoffs: The office has its set of interruptions, home can be lonely (and, for some workers, unproductive) and coffee shops offer the appearance of a social atmosphere without the practice of actually getting work done.

Today, however, companies are exploring a new strategy called coworking. Let's explore what that means and see if it's something you might want to try.

With coworking, a collection of individuals from different companies share a large space that generally offers an open workspace plan, Internet access and power.

Most people doing coworking are knowledge-workers-the programmers, designers, writers and testers who can work with a laptop just about anywhere. Because they are working in similar domains, coworkers can bounce ideas off each other, trade expertise requests, network and even form virtual project teams to solve one-week, one-day or one-hour projects.

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"When people work together, they bump into each other, they ask questions," says Aaron Schaap, founder of The Factory, a coworking space in West Michigan. "From that idea, what we really sell is not space, but serendipity. You happen to get a desk, but the amount of people you bump into is surprising and unplanned."