- The idea of coworking started in 1995 among tech enthusiasts wanting to collaborate.
- The Philippines is a good place for coworking, with Common Ground placing three of its coworking spaces around prime business locations in Metro Manila.
- Coworking spaces in the Philippines are expected to grow 10% annually and the demand is likely to increase by 15% in 2030 based on reports.
You’ll be surprised to know that the history of coworking, or sharing of workspaces, started all the way back—even before cloud computing or the Internet of things became a thing—and that its idea sprang from the need to collaborate, before it was used to adapt to economic and technological changes and to address concerns in office real estate.
Although coworking in the Philippines is still pretty new, a number of business reports have projected its steady growth in the coming years to allow solopreneurs and startups to open an office with less capital and effort, to accommodate the ever-growing freelance workforce, and to provide a flexible, collaborative work environment for small and big enterprises.
The Past: Coworking History Timeline
The beginnings of coworking can be traced back to Europe and the United States. Looking through its history, one can better appreciate how coworking work, why it remains relevant today, and how it could continue to transform the look and feel of a modern work environment.
1995: Hackerspace was born and became a predecessor of coworking
C-Base was founded in Berlin in 1995 and was one of the first hackerspaces in the world. A hackerspace provides an open community for those who are into the tech industry. While hackerspaces are still alive today, they are the ancestors that breathed life to the idea of coworking spaces.
1999: “Coworking” became a word and 42 West 24 became a coworking prototype
It was Bernard DeKoven who coined the term “coworking.” The definition of coworking in DeKoven’s terms was “working together as equals.” This ultimately became the heart and soul of what coworking actually is today. Because it’s a space for workers of different industries and companies, it loses the culture of office politics and the pressures of a competitive environment. Coworking offers an avenue for collaborative engagement while still allowing people to work on their respective projects.
Nevertheless, in that same year, a shared work space has emerged in New York City, but without the sense of community that coworking spaces have today. 42 West 24 offered flexible desks to individuals and teams and became a pre-model of contemporary coworking spaces.
2002: Schraubenfabrik, the mother of coworking spaces, opened
Austrian entrepreneurs, Stefan Leitner-Sidl and Michael Poll, renovated an old, abandoned factory in Vienna to build Schraubenfabrik, the “mother of coworking spaces.” It became a shared entrepreneurial haven for small teams, startups, and solopreneurs in 2002.
2005: Neuberg assembled the first official coworking space
Challenged by the stiffness of traditional business offices and the unproductivity of home-office setup, Brad Neuberg conceptualized a new type of space that combined the sense of freedom of working solo and the community atmosphere of working with a team.
He opened the first official coworking space on August 9, 2005 inside the Spiral Muse in San Francisco. Here, members took advantage of free WiFi and enjoyed meditation breaks, massages, and bike tours among others.
A huge demand for Neuberg’s coworking idea developed. So after a year, the coworking space in Spiral Muse closed down and was moved to the bigger Hat Factory, the world’s first full-time coworking space.
2006: Coworking became a trend in the US
The success of the Hat Factory made other organizations and firms in the US to consider Neuberg’s coworking concept. Brooklyn Coworking opened in 2006 and became the first coworking facility in New York. In that same year, Jelly became a venue for remote workers and independent professionals to come together in one place.
2007: Coworking became a trend online
In 2007, the term “coworking” appeared on Google’s database for the first time and got its own Wikipedia page. As it solidified its online presence, we could say that during this time coworking was becoming a phenomenon and establishing a strong foothold in the business domain.
2009: A book and a conference about coworking materialized
“I’m Outta Here! How Coworking Made the Office Obsolete” became the first-ever book to relay the coworking revolution. Published in 2009, the book was authored by Tony Bacigalupo, Drew Jones, and Todd Sundsted.
In the same year, an international conference was established. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) gathered coworking patrons and providers to discuss the present trends and upcoming ventures in the coworking industry. GCUC continues to be an authority in the coworking field up to this day.
2012: Coworking dominated the global scene and Twitter
By October 2012, there were more than 2,000 coworking spaces in the world, making it a legit worldwide trend. It also started to trend on Twitter in that year, with Topsy reporting that the hashtag coworking was tweeted 93,000 times (52% more than the previous year). Over 217,000 tweets (+56%) were recorded to have used the term with and without the hashtag for the entire 2012.
2013: More coworking spaces emerged across the world
When 2013 was just starting, there were already more than 100,000 people performing their jobs and conducting businesses in coworking spaces. The uptrend in the demand ushered in 1,000 new coworking facilities, with the 3,000th coworking space established in July 2013.
Coworking was also gaining traction among creative professionals and digital nomads in the Asia Pacific region as office spaces became limited and remote or home-based workers started to grow.
The Present: Launching Coworking Spaces in the Philippines
The Philippines can be considered a good breeding ground for coworking spaces with many of its workforce holding freelance or home-based status and with the steady increase of foreign and local startups, and small and medium enterprises.
Out of the 22 countries surveyed, the Philippines has one of the most numbers of freelancers per capita amounting to around 2% of the population based on the 2018 Global Freelancer Insights Report by US-based payment firm PayPal. The country ranked 3rd in terms of countries with the highest population of freelance workers, reaching an estimated 1.5 million in total, placing the country just after the United States and India.
Moreover, Philippine startups were also able to secure $50 million in venture capital funding in 2018 and are expected to continue to progress due to the growing number of venture capital firms.
The size of the economy and its robust real estate made the Philippines a priority for Common Ground. In fact, the Malaysia-based coworking space operator opened their first coworking facility outside Malaysia here in the Philippines. On November 21, 2018, Common Ground opened its pilot coworking space in Bonifacio Global City. After just three months, they put up another coworking space in Ortigas Center in Pasig.
Just recently, last May 17, 2019, they officially opened their 3rd coworking space in the Philippines, in one of the country’s premier business centers, along Rockwell in Makati.
The Future: Are Coworking Spaces here to stay?
The coworking space industry is projected to grow by 10% annually over the next 3 years as reported by Colliers International. The property consultancy firm cited the expanding of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), multinational companies, and outsourcing firms as the force that would push the demands for flexible workspaces, along with the growing freelance millennial workforce.
The firm also stated that flexibility will be a significant factor in the Philippine property market in 2019. It also expected to see more office and residential developments outside Metro Manila. Common Ground is also eyeing to open more venues outside the country’s capital in the future, and build coworking spaces in Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo.
Furthermore, Terry Blackburn of PropertyGuru Asia referred to a JLL report showing an estimated 15% growth in the coworking space demand in the Philippines by 2030 as more and more professionals and business owners see the need for a scalable workspace that offers flexibility, networking and business consultation opportunities, and business-friendly pricing terms.
With its current development and projected growth, coworking space could establish a dominant presence and strong preference in business, workforce, and real estate. It has come a long way from a simple idea to foster a more collaborative work environment.
With developments in technology, employee acquisition problems, and business startup concerns, do you think a coworking space would work for you? What else do you expect with this booming industry that’s changing the office landscape as we know it? Share your thoughts and office challenges with us.
Common Ground is the fastest growing coworking space chain in the Philippines. True to our tagline, “Ambition Lives Here”, our coworking offices exude ambition, collaboration, success, and grandeur. To schedule a visit in one of our branches, click the button below.