There has been an explosion of coworking spaces over the last few years. It’s a growth market that’s revolutionizing the world of work. Let’s have a look at this trend.
HOW IT WORKS
The idea behind coworking spaces, also called collaborative work spaces, is to create the atmosphere of a home office in combination with the benefits of working in a business environment.
Here’s a profile of some of the typical customers these ever more popular spaces attract.
Initially, coworking spaces were a response to the growing ranks of self-employed workers and start-up founders, especially in the information technology sector, but in other fields as well, such as design, communication, marketing, etc. These new work spaces play a vital role by encouraging the development of networks, and fostering exchanges and cooperation among entrepreneurs.
Another customer-base for coworking spaces consists of companies which need to establish a foothold in a new city or even a new country. There are also groups of coworkers who have jobs in traditional offices but are looking for an inspiring space to work on a specific project, hold an important meeting or have a brainstorming session.
Coworking spaces are thus shared spaces, replete with work stations, meeting rooms, lounges and food services, where one can meet a wide variety of people. And that’s exactly what makes these spaces a winning formula: they create opportunities for stimulating encounters and they help to spark innovative thinking!
Coworking spaces were a response to the growing ranks of self-employed workers and start-up founders.
The idea of a place where people who work in different fields can rub shoulders is not new. Take St-Germain-des-Prés, for example, a Paris neighbourhood with a fascinating and momentous history. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was a fertile meeting ground for writers, photographers, painters, musicians and intellectuals. They gravitated to the cafés there for intense discussions on current events and culture. The cafés were a cauldron of creativity, a space where people worked and socialized – artists like Picasso and Man Ray, photographers like Robert Doisneau, singer-songwriters like Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour and Serge Gainsbourg, among many others. St-Germain-des-Prés shaped the history of art and artists by serving as a place where intellectual and artistic life could flourish.
Below we introduce eight coworking spaces, all very different but equally inspiring, where interesting and interested people can try their hand at changing the world.
La dépendance (Montreal)
“La dépendance” is the French term for addiction, and it’s easy to imagine becoming addicted to this beautifully designed Scandinavian-style multipurpose commercial space. In addition to spaces for coworking and organizing workshops and events, it houses a restaurant, tea room and café where you can indulge in gourmet treats, as well as a boutique where you’ll find design objects and niche magazines specializing in interior design and decoration. As the name suggests, you’ll want to keep going back!
Crew Collective & Café (Montreal)
Voted one of the most beautiful coworking spaces in the world by Forbes magazine, the Crew Collective & Café is located in an Old Montreal landmark, the historic Royal Bank Tower, which is nearly a century old. You can go in for a cup of coffee and a sandwich or spend the day, the month or the year. A real gem!
Aire Commune (Montreal)
The first outdoor coworking space in Canada, Air Commune is open from mid-May to mid-September as a location for lectures, workshops, meetings, training sessions, small group work, cultural events, networking and, most notably, one of the standout terraces in Montreal’s Mile End district. The team behind Aire Commune is also launching two new spaces: Nouvelle Vague in the western part of the Old Port and Green Haüs in the heart of the District Central (the former garment district).
Breather (Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa)
Founded in 2012 by two young Montrealers, Breather quickly went international. It offers hundreds of private work spaces in 10 of the world’s biggest business cities. The private spaces can be reserved right on Breather’s website. Great care is taken with the design of the spaces, which always have the look and feel of an apartment. They are beautifully executed and appointed with modern furniture. Mobilia furnished part of the company’s head office located in Montreal’s Mile-end district.
There are many similarities between these two companies specializing in coworking spaces. Both are part of an international network and provide a large space subdivided into individual and small-group work stations, with open areas, meeting rooms, a kitchen, lounges, etc. Members have access to a professional events calendar. But the spaces each company offers have a very different look and feel. Spaces opts for a very chic, pared down Scandinavian-style design, while We Work has a much more youthful, masculine and artistic design style.
Love Child Social House (Toronto)
A coworking space by day and an event venue by night, Love Child Social House’s dual vocation aptly embodies the expression “work hard, play hard.” During the day, the space is a monument to work-life balance; people work alone and in groups, consume good food and healthy beverages, do yoga, meditate, and attend workshops on various wellness-related topics. At night, the space morphs into a night club frequented by a trendy Toronto clientele.
The Wing (Toronto)
Established in New York City in 2016, The Wing is unique in the industry by virtue of its commitment to women and diversity. The company has a very specific mission, namely, “the professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community.” The Wing caters exclusively to women and this is reflected as much in its event programming as its aesthetics: the spaces are designed using lots of colour and rounded shapes. The Wing has locations in 10 other major cities across the world.
Dozens of coworking spaces have sprung up in the hipper neighbourhoods of Montreal and Toronto, and many of them are breathtaking in their design. Check them out: visits are free!
Marie-Hélène Trottier is the creative director at Montreal-based agency, Jump&Love