With its huge picture windows, imposing metal vent pipes that snake on the ceiling and trendy furniture, the old warehouse, converted into a work space, is both modern and exquisitely retro. Set around large rectangular wooden tables, men and women, most of them quite young and dressed casually, strum on their computers, chat quietly or take advice in small meeting rooms provided for this purpose. Near the entrance, a large circular bar serves pastries, coffees covered with a layer of creamy mousse or citrus teas.
We are at Galvanize, one of the many collaborative workspaces in the Soma neighborhood of San Francisco. This former industrial heart of the city was once dotted with abandoned factories and abandoned warehouses, before the boom of new technologies carved a new face.
A boom due to the profound change in working life
San Francisco is today the American capital of coworking There are just over 54 collaborative workspaces per 100,000 people, the highest ratio in the United States. But the phenomenon is also a great success in the rest of the country, and beyond the US borders. Thus, there are almost 19,000 spaces of coworking in the world, where they were only 600 in 2010. And they seem well set to settle permanently in the landscape.
Indeed, their popularity is closely linked to two profound transformations in working life: the rise of self-employment and teleworking.
The self-employed now make up one-third of the US labor force, which is expected to grow to 50% over the next ten years. Nearly 4 million Americans work from home at least half the time. There were 1.8 million in 2005.
But, contrary to popular belief, collaborative workspaces are not only squatted by independent employees. For example, half of Americans in a collaborative workspace belong to a small business, 12% to a large group, while 20% work solo.
WeWork, the American giant coworking customers include companies like IBM or Facebook. In addition, while this market is remarkably dynamic, it is also a very competitive business sector, dominated by a few players, including WeWork (which has increased its user base by 370% in the past year alone), Regus or Proximity.
Gather Blockchain Enthusiasts
Thus, to find a place in the shadow of the giants, many smaller places are betting on specialization. One of the main attractions of coworking is to put users in touch with a community of ambitious and innovative individuals, likely to serve as mentors, potential partners, or simply friends sharing interests close to theirs. Therefore, why not push this logic further and propose thematic spaces bringing together individuals working in the same industry?
These thematic spaces are particularly popular across the Atlantic. Since the creation of bitcoin in 2008 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, the followers of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies form a community of enthusiasts, always ready to discuss with enthusiasm a new protocol or the last token fashionable.
So much so that, as the journalist writes, Wired Erin Griffith, bitcoin is now a lifestyle and an identity component.
No wonder, then, that several collaborative workspaces have chosen to target this community. This is the case of Liminal, which is being installed in the Bohemian neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. In addition to being a place of exchange and sharing for the folks of the blockchain, the place aims to put this technology at the heart of its operation. Thus, Liminal intends to generate its own cryptocurrency, which members can use to reserve a room or buy a coffee.
From the North Beach district of San Francisco, a former stronghold of the Beat Generation, Node has a similar ambition. Launched last January, it organizes every Thursday a conference with a cryptocurrency specialist. As we are in San Francisco, coffee is replaced by kratom and kava drinks, while workshops mixing meditation and cryptocurrency discussions are organized. The ambition of the founders is to incite enthusiasts of the blockchain to open more workspaces under the Node franchise around the world, with the aim of creating a decentralized network, a nod to the operation of the Blockchain. The term " node Refers to the "nodes" of the Blockchain network, responsible for authenticating transactions.
The recreational cannabis sector also has its spaces
From Los Angeles, Paragon offers a collaborative workspace for the cannabis industry, a niche also occupied by Gateway, in Oakland, near San Francisco, or by The Greenhouse in Denver. The sector is, indeed, flourishing in the American States having legalized the recreational use of the plant. Denver is also home to Green Spaces, a space dedicated to entrepreneurs, investors or simple workers with an ecological sensitivity.
In addition to attracting young shoots implementing solutions for the protection of the environment, the building operates with solar energy and recycles all of its waste. Green Spaces also works with local associations and businesses to ensure the preservation of ecosystems.
Examples of specialized collaborative spaces can be found in the country. In Milwaukee, The Oasis Coworking Community is welcoming tech startups to water management, BioLabs, located in several US cities, is targeting biotechnology startups, while The Wing and The Coven are targeting women entrepreneurs.