Since starting our research project on coworking, we've noticed there's a lot of confusion about what coworking is and what the most important benefits are.
Because of this, we decided to put together a list of the most common coworking myths and misconceptions we hear in discussions, presentations and interviews.
The myths/misconceptions are in bold below. Following each myth is the reality, or at least our view of the reality based on our research.
1. Coworking is only for freelancers and the self-employed: When the coworking movement first started it was almost entirely made up of freelancers and other self-employed workers. But today, coworking facilities house startups, small businesses and even employees of large corporations.
2. The major benefits of coworking are social: Yes, coworking spaces provide a social environment and they are good places for those tired of working alone at home or in coffee shops. But the more important benefits are the business collaboration, networking and partnering opportunities provided by being part of a coworking community.
3. Coworking is only for young techies: People of all ages and from a variety of industries and job functions use coworking spaces. Baby boomers are increasingly using coworking spaces as more of them start businesses and become freelancers.
4. Coworking is only for office jobs: Most coworking spaces are office-based. But a growing number of industrial coworking spaces provide shared access to manufacturing tools, facilities and equipment. These spaces are used by inventors, tinkerers, hackers, scientists, small businesses and others to make things.
5. Coworking spaces are only in big cities: The first coworking facilities were located in San Francisco, New York and other major cities. But today coworking spaces are also found in the suburbs, and a growing number are located in mid-sized cities and even small towns.