For most, the coworking industry is associated with freelancers and startups. Coworking burst onto the scene in 2006 as a solution for these groups, to be sure. However, the industry is maturing and the majority of growth is now from established small, medium and enterprise firms. Coworking has now emerged as a multi-billion dollar industry projected to occupy a whopping 30% of office space by 2030 (according to JLL). It’s no different in Toronto, where there are now over 60 spaces in operation across the city.
While the coworking industry continues to grow, it also continues to change. Many big-name real estate developers and even multinational retailers, such as Staples, have begun to open spaces of their own. Meanwhile, flexible workspace giant WeWork now operates seven locations in the city.
One of the pioneers of coworking space in Toronto is Acme Works, an authentic space with a laid back vibe and a thriving community. Acme Works reflects the entrepreneurial spirit of the city with events such as the annual Anvil Pitch Competition, where members pitch their business ideas for a prize of $10,000. This community-oriented space, located in the vibrant neighborhood of Queen West, was one of the first of its kind in Toronto when it opened in 2013. It remains a hub for startups and entrepreneurs today.
We sat down with Acme Works Founder Christine Andrews to get the down low on coworking.
The coworking movement originated in 2006 in California when a group of freelancers, working from coffee shops and basements decided to look for a better work environment.
They were able to rent space and share the costs, combining their small businesses together to form a community. The shared environment gave them an opportunity to work more effectively together. There were two main ideas: to share infrastructure, and most importantly, to create a community of like-minded individuals.
Tackling Loneliness and Maximizing Creativity
While working from home allows for a flexible work schedule in a focused environment, it can also create isolation and feelings of loneliness.
Working collaboratively helps us to better connect. Creativity is best fostered in collaborative and innovative environments. Simply having a conversation over coffee in the kitchen can trigger new ideas, or at the very least provide an important level of social interaction that is hard to get working from home.
Distractions in and around home can make for a demotivating, and unproductive work environment. Equally, a coworking space is a far more professional setting for client meetings than a home office or coffee shop.
People have always congregated to form communities around common beliefs and values. Today, people still strive to connect with those around them to support one another and celebrate life’s important milestones. Coworking spaces offer a solution to fill that gap by providing people who may be feeling isolated or lonely with opportunities to socialize and collaborate with those around them.
Wellness and Mental Health
There has been a heightened awareness of wellness and mental health in the coworking sector in recent years, in light of North America’s loneliness epidemic. The fundamentals of a shared workspace, such as chairs, desks, coffee and WiFi are easy to provide, but we are seeing that coworking spaces are increasingly taking responsibility for the mental wellbeing of their members as well.
GCUC, the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, launched #CheckYoMate in 2017 in order to spread awareness and start conversations about mental health, while Acme Works held its first annual Wellness Day last year.
GCUC research shows that 89% of people that work in coworking spaces are happier. That is what Acme Works is creating: happiness in a collaborative and inspirational environment.
The Best Coworking Spaces in North America
Ross: What are your top 6 coworking spaces?
Christine: We can explore this question in so many ways based on so many aspects of coworking. For example, we are seeing the rise of niche spots that are focused very narrowly on women, real estate BioTech, music or design for example.
Or we could do it based on the most visually spectacular spaces – filled with art and Herman Miller furniture or located in beautiful remote locations but we believe the best way to look at coworking spaces is based on the strength of their community. So I’d like to base my selection on those coworking spaces that have created successful, vibrant, strong communities.
So, here are my picks:
Acme Works, Toronto – Naturally!
Authentic connections are made at this coworking space every day between start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs. You will find here inspiration, collaboration, shared experiences, gathering, opportunity to come together and meet like-minded people.
Link Coworking, Austin
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This Friendly community will make you excited to come to work, and you will find your network expand almost effortlessly over time.
This sophisticated sleek place offers desk space and plenty of office amenities. Primary was specifically designed to make people feel great. Creators are trying to combine both beautiful design and creative atmosphere for everybody who works here.
NextSpace, Santa Cruz
Based in a sunny Santa Cruz in California, this place offers a nice atmosphere, lots of creative people you can collaborate with and, of course, opportunity to develop yourself as a professional.
The HiVE is thrilled to have hosted Doctors Without Borders' fantastic Missing Maps project when it came to Vancouver! Look at these hard-working folks doing good: pic.twitter.com/RQdualMejF
— HiVE (@HiVEVancouver) March 14, 2019
Hive is making a splash in Vancouver, with a coworking space that offers a fun and collaborative approach to coworking and an emphasis on providing a friendly place to work.
Spark, provides an environment that helps their member conduct effective business in their comfortable quiet and secure space that is inclusive to all workers.
Discover extraordinary coworking spaces and events in your city and around the world at events near me this weekend.
Ross Anderson writes for Chillwall about exciting events, food, art and breathtaking places all over the world.