Shared office space does not = coworking

With the rise of any new idea it’s inevitable that some will try and find a way to ride the wave of publicity, using the idea to benefit themselves and the sudden rise of coworking has been no different. Apart from the legitimate coworking spaces popping up all over SA, There are also some companies who think they’ve spotted a way to bring in some extra income or get rid of surplus office space by advertising their office as a coworking space.

What makes a ‘real’ coworking space?

Coworking is based on the foundation of building a collaborative, supportive community. Within days of joining, new members start forming bonds with the rest of the community, see an immediate boost in their productivity and experience a general well-being which they realise they’ve been missing while working from their home-office. This comes partly from being surrounded by like-minded people and partly from the realisation that they’re not alone in their entrepreneurial journey and that there are many others who face the same challenges they do. These relationships need to be nurtured however, which is often done by the community manager who has his finger on what everyone is working on, connecting people who may find possibilities for collaboration and running frequent networking events which bring the community together, further enhancing the bonds which naturally form from people working in the same space. 

So how is renting some space in someone’s office any different?

Moving into extra space in an existing company’s office means you’re an outsider. The majority of people in that space have deep ties and often, a shared passion which you will never be part of. You’re a tenant to them and although you may be invited out to drinks with them once or twice, don’t count on finding a sense of community or on getting any support from them. You’re their tenant and you’re renting a desk from them. If you’re looking for more than that, seek out a legitimate coworking space in your area and I guarantee you’ll be better off.

Wayne is the founder and community manager of Growth Space, the Helderberg’s first coworking space with a focus on building a supportive, collaborative community. Growth Space is currently planning new spaces in various areas in the Cape Town area and their mission is to bring coworking to a wider audience in SA. Get in touch with them on Facebook or Twitter to find out about a coworking space in your area.