#LabLife

The History of Coworking

 

 

 

A Short History of Coworking …

 

The LAB was Miami’s first ever coworking space. Since then, coworking spaces have sprung up
across Miami and the city has become something of a tech hub, with the LAB’s Wynwood
neighbourhood at the heart of this growth. The LAB continues to look for innovative ways to
help local entrepreneurs grow and succeed.

Although not the first place to set up coworking spaces, the phenomenon has clearly taken hold
in Miami. Now there are coworking spaces spread across the city and the LAB certainly had a
hand in this. As the forbearer, the LAB’s place in Miami’s history of coworking is clear, which is
why we wanted to look at the LAB’s place in the overall history of coworking and how we fit
into that story.

In the autumn of 1995, seventeen computer engineers create one of the first ever ‘hackerspaces’,
C-Base, in Berlin, Germany. Hackerspaces are obvious precursors to coworking spaces. The
hackerspace is intended as a not-for-profit space which brings together computer enthusiasts,
offering them facilities, as well as an opportunity to collaborate, share knowledge and
equipment. Given the dawn of the internet, computer engineers no longer need a fixed place to
work, so the space is set up to give them a place to work alongside others in their field, where
they can collaborate and share new ideas. 

In 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.

In 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. 

On August 9th 2005, 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 (£230)
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. 

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. 

In 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 any
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.
“I’m Outta Here! How coworking is making the office obsolete” is released in 2009. 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. 

The first online magazine about Coworking, Deskmag, goes online on July 10 th , 2010. The
magazine is based in Berlin and covers all aspects of coworking, writing articles on the
development, function and design of coworking spaces.

On the 9th of August 2010, five years after Neuberg opened the first official coworking space in
San Francisco, the first #CoworkingDay is celebrated. Now International Coworking Day is
celebrated at coworking spaces around the globe on August 9th each year. 

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 in 2010. 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. 

In 2012, Wilfredo Fernandez and Daniel Lafuente set up Miami’s first ever coworking space, the
LAB. With help from the Knight Foundation, they convert a 10,000 square foot warehouse in
Wynwood into a coworking and event space. The space offers a huge boost to entrepreneurs and
startups in Miami, who previously had no space nor many resources to connect, share ideas and
grow projects with other entrepreneurial spirits. Currently, the LAB has over 200 members and
has helped hundreds of Miami’s best minds form and grow businesses. The space is in part
responsible for Wynwood becoming Miami’s epicentre for entrepreneurs and technology. Rather
than simply offering coworking space, the LAB continues to evolve, having recently
incorporated LAB Ventures, a company builder which aims to help Miami’s promising
entrepreneurs improve local industry by building and launching big businesses.

Ever since 2012, coworking has exploded both in Miami and across the globe. Today there are
millions of coworkers worldwide and tens of thousands of coworking spaces. The LAB is proud
to uphold a legacy that began with the early experimental workspaces of the 90’s and early 00’s.
They were intended to help local entrepreneurs, freelancers and startups succeed by giving them
a place to go, a community to feel a part of and the knowledge to succeed. The LAB continues
that legacy by facilitating the growth of hundreds of Miami’s brightest minds to improve local
industry and grow successful businesses.