The rise of modern coworking can be traced back to the mid-2000s in San Francisco. Software engineer Brad Neuberg began the first space there, according to leading cowork experts at coworkingresources.org. New York, London and Germany would follow suit, and coworking spaces have popped up around the world ever since.
So many launched, in fact, that the number of coworking spaces worldwide is projected to reach nearly 20,000 by the end of 2020, according to the 2020 Global Coworking Growth Study, with nearly 40,000 projected by the end of 2024.
Kelly Konya, chief editor and media director for coworker.com, said the projections “are directly reflective of the year over year growth of coworking spaces globally.”
These expansion numbers mean nearly 5 million people worldwide could be working in coworking spaces in the next four years.
While Sheridan took until 2017 to get on board, its coworking space, CoWork @ The Montgomery, is now a burgeoning space so popular, owners Dave and Donna Kinskey had to open a second location on South Brooks Street at the end of 2019.
Donna Kinskey said the opening of the second location provided an alternative with more closed off work spaces instead of the current, more open space at the Montgomery building.
She said turnover has been low at the spaces, with roughly 70% of their current tenants having been there long term.
COVID-19 has not had much effect on either of the spaces, she said, but she has been doing extra cleanings of public areas while those renting offices clean their own.
“The criteria has been the whole time, even if you want a day pass, I need to know that you can show that you have not been exposed, you’re safe or you can show me that you’ve been here 14 days and quarantining before I let you in,” Kinskey said.
The Montgomery is the only true cowork space in Sheridan, though Impact Sheridan provides similar opportunities for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs. It doesn’t however, provide true coworking space for individuals looking to get away from home or just work for the day.
In relation to the rest of Wyoming, Sheridan’s single space is on par with other major cities like Cheyenne, Jackson and Gillette, according to the Wyoming Business Council. Laramie is slightly ahead of the pack, with two coworking spaces.
The state as a whole, however, lags behind most others in the United States, putting it in the bottom 10 for number of coworking spaces, according to the most recent statistics from coworker.com.
The U.S. leads the world in number of coworking spaces, according to the 2020 Global Coworking Growth Study, with 18.3%, or 3,762 spaces.
Tyler Wells, owner of DYT Solutions, began running his business out of CoWork @ The Montgomery roughly a year and a half ago. He said while it may sound enticing to work from home, as many have been forced to during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cowork space provides an opportunity for workers and businesses to accomplish more.
“Working from home is not always the most productive,” Wells said. “You get sidetracked, you want to wash dishes, you want to do other things other than work, so the cowork is a great place to get away, to separate work and home life.”
He said cowork is an enticing option for business owners because they can focus solely on work and not on bills and other services independent business owners have to worry about. He said the space provides a kitchen, printing and internet services in the membership fee, so it has everything an independent business could want.
In addition to providing services, Wells said it provides extra benefits a normal office space would not, such as extra networking and community events.
“They’re always bringing tech meet-ups, Chamber events. One time Mark Gordon came in and specifically talked about coyotes and how they’re impacting some of the local residents and local businesses,” Wells said. “So it’s not only a great place to work, there’s a lot of added benefits if you want to be active in the community, a lot of events and a lot of information passes through the coworking space.”
He said the consistent rise in popularity of coworking is not a surprise to him; he’s seen an upward trend at CoWork @ The Montgomery since he started working there.
“I think the first six months I was here, it was just Donna Kinskey and I working on the open platform just at a couple of tables and doing business like that,” Wells said. “Where I’ve seen it change is there (are) students that come back for holidays or Christmas break and they utilize it and now more and more businesses, whether they’re startups or whether they’re just kind of one-man, one-woman businesses, they come in here and they’ll rent a table or the office space, so there’s quite a bit more traffic here.”
Konya said the boom in coworking spaces worldwide comes as no surprise to her and she believes coworking is the future of working.
She said their data shows that 77% of coworking operators are prepared to expand in the next 12 months, while 9% intend to open more than eight new locations in that timeframe.
“As remote work becomes more widespread, it’s likely for more coworking (and hybrid workspace models in hotels, malls and apartment complexes) to be developed for those seeking an alternative to working from home,” Konya said.