Baby Boomers Embracing Coworking

In my eyes, coworking is the workplace dynamic of the future and one of it’s draw-cards is the diverse nature of an organically curated community. 

Although coworking spaces are usually seen as a place for predominately young entrepreneurs or tech start ups, people of all ages are now seemingly starting to come round to the idea of a shared and collaborative workspace.

Having worked in the coworking industry as part of the “community team” for the past two years, many of the tours i conduct of the space are quite similar to each other. I ask about a prospective member’s business, why they are approaching us and where they are currently working before giving them a tour (of our brand new, purpose designed space!). During this time, I highlighting our common areas and unique features as well as chose out 2 or 3 private offices that I think will fulfil their requirements and budget most effectively.

However, one tour that I gave a couple of weeks ago stood out in my mind as being slightly different. The two people were business partners and life partners in their late 60’s or early 70’s. They have been involved in many businesses over the years, owned buildings and had office space in many different suburbs in Melbourne.

Now they are semi-retired.

They’re in a phase of life in which they are winding down some of their businesses but still want a place to work in order to give their day structure and have a professional space to work on some ongoing projects.

Instead of sticking to what they have always known and finding commercial space or beginning the work-from-home lifestyle, they are embracing the modern way of working. For them it is the new. The unknown. But the exciting.

When we started chatting about what type of space they had in mind, they mentioned that their office would require space for storage cupboards, bar fridges, couches and printers. After showing them around our building including the 2 large kitchens, the 2 shared printing stations and our wifi capabilities they quickly understood that “it was time to have a garage sale.” While not the typical “type” of the person in a coworking space, they are understanding the value of the sharing economy whilst learning that we can all save space, time, and money when facilities are communal.

Earlier that day I happened to stumble across a youtube video that demonstrates how it is possible for companies to significantly decrease the size of their employees offices. The simple answer: technology.

A typical employee in the 1980’s desk required: a large computer, a wall calendar, a fax machine, a phone, a phone book, a rolodex, some photos, and maybe even a globe, camera or calculator. In 2018, all of those “things” have been consolidated into apps on a computer or phone with tools such as e-mail, google calendar, skype and apps for things like photos and calculators. This means that all of this “stuff” that we required space for in the past is no longer a consideration.

As I think about the broader picture of the ages and stages of people in coworking, I can confidently say that six weeks after our opening date, we have people across the lifespan of their career. We have entrepreneurs in their twenties, employees in their thirties, former corporates in their forties, freelancers in their fifties, and consultants in their sixties or possibly even their seventies.

While unfortunately this couple chose a different coworking space for the next stage of their business, I look forward to using our space as a way of helping everyone move into the future of work while learning from their rich experiences and knowledge.

And finally, here’s the short clip referenced above.

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