Brad Neuberg, the person who set up the first official coworking space, aimed to give home-workers, freelancers and remote workers a place where they could maintain the freedom that came with their positions whilst providing them with the community and structure necessary to succeed. Today, LAX Coworking is an example of this ethos, giving freelancers and startups an impressive space to collaborate and succeed. In 2015 the space was set up to help accommodate a new breed of worker and startup, and continues to do so today.
Given how much LAX Coworking values the fundamental ideas behind coworking, we wanted to look at some key moments in coworking’s history, how those values came to be and LAX Coworking’s place in that history.
1999 – The phrase ‘coworking’ is coined by Bernard DeKoven. However, the term refers to something different than today’s concept of coworking. DeKoven, a game designer, uses ‘coworking’ to refer to the way we work, not the space that we work in. He hopes to evolve ways of working that involve collaboration, a breakdown of hierarchy and seeing co-workers as equals.
2002 – Two Austrian entrepreneurs set up an ‘entrepreneurial center’, Schraubenfabrik, in an old factory in Vienna. The space is aimed at entrepreneurs, giving them a place to avoid having to work from home, where they can collaborate and work with like-minded people. The space included architects, PR consultants, startups and freelancers. This space is clearly the mother of coworking and although not called a ‘coworking space’, it’s undoubtedly a clear precursor to what we know today.
2005 – On August 9th, Brad Neuberg sets up the first ever official coworking space, San Francisco Coworking Space, at a feminist collective called Spiral Muse in the Mission district of San Francisco. The space is intended to maintain the freedom of working independently whilst providing the structure and community of working with others. Neuberg has to pay $300 a month to use the space for two days a week. For the first month, no one turns up. After more outreach from Neuberg, an athlete and startup developer named Ray Baxter arrives, becoming the spaces first member and in turn the world’s first official coworker.
2006 – From 2006, the number of coworking spaces and coworking members approximately doubles each year for the next seven years. This exponential growth will soon become known as the coworking revolution.
2008 – Coworking visas are introduced, meaning that members of specific coworking spaces are given free access to other coworking spaces also included in the agreement. This means that workers who travel can use coworking offices all around the world without having to spend extra money and also develops the global coworking community. The key ideas around coworking and collaborative working are developed and continue to spread around the globe.
2009 – “I’m Outta Here! How coworking is making the office obsolete” is released. This is the first book on coworking and charts the course of the people and the places involved in the coworking revolution, as well as how coworking is changing the way we view the traditional office.
2010 – After meetups of coworking enthusiasts in 2008 and 2009 at SXSW, Loosecubes decided to create a fully-fledged event. With the help of Liz Elam of Link Coworking, they staged the first ever Coworking Unconference. 120 coworking enthusiasts from around the globe attended. Liz then took over the conference and began planning the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in 2011. Today GCUC is an enormous coworking staple, with thousands attending events all across the globe.
2012 – In 2012, 93,000 tweets are sent with hashtag #coworking. This is more than twice as many as the previous year, mirroring the doubling of coworking spaces and members which continues year on year. With and without the hashtag, the word “coworking” is included in 217,000 tweets overall.
2015 – In January of 2015, LAX Coworking officially opens its doors to startups, freelancers and solopreneurs. The space is set up by LAX Coastal Chamber in response to a growing need for more flexible workspaces in Silicon Beach. Silicon Beach is home to hundreds of startups and entrepreneurs, and LAX Coworking is designed to accommodate the changing requirements of a new, more mobile professional for whom the traditional office does not suffice.
Today, there are millions of coworkers and thousands of coworking spaces across the globe. LAX Coworking continues to uphold the key values which began with the experimental workspaces of the nineties. They offer truly affordable space to freelancers and startups, emphasis business development through events and talks, and have built a thriving and collaborative community of startups and entrepreneurs in Silicon Beach.