There is nothing new about coworking: its first recorded mention arrived in a 1628 book. But it has rarely been more popular. Berlin’s C-Space became one of the world’s first hackerspace when it opened in 1995. Since then spaces have popped up in almost every city worldwide, catering to the growing number of creatives, coders and entrepreneurs working freelance and remote:
Today coworking spaces are big business: they occupy 27 million square feet of office space in the US alone, while WeWork, the biggest coworking company, hit a $20bn valuation last year. It now has over 120,000 customers and there’s barely a major metropolis that isn’t home to one of its trendy communal hangouts. In total there are around 14,000 coworking spaces worldwide: over 1.2m people have worked from one.
But what are the best coworking spaces on earth? Red Herring lists some of the biggest, coolest and most unique around the world. Let us know if you agree in the comments section below!
1. GoWork, Gargaon, India
New Delhi’s satellite city of Gurgaon – also known as Gurugram – might be the fastest-growing tech hub on earth. Now home to offices for over 250 Fortune 500 companies, the 900,000-population city also holds the world’s largest coworking space: GoWork.
The 800,000 square-foot campus more closely resembles a glass-fronted corporate headquarters than entrepreneurial home. But its 12,000 seats far outstrip the next largest coworking space, WeWork’s 3,000-seat London base. And while it might not have the same architectural flair as other spots in this list, GoWork’s sheer size makes it a mouth-watering network opportunity for those looking to break into India’s bursting tech scene.
2. Hubud, Bali, Indonesia
Possibly the most Instagrammable of all these coworking spaces, Bali’s Hubud is part startup office, part island paradise – complete with beach, bamboo (repurposed) and and organic cafe. Ten thousand people have stepped through Hubud’s eco-friendly doors thus far. They are treated to “an epicenter of big ideas in a charming and enchanting village,” according to the space’s creators.
Hubud opened in 2013, founded by two Canadians and an American – and while the location’s vibe is very retreat-y, it also offers Bali’s best Internet and a great place in which to meet other “mavericks” (Hubud’s word, not ours) who use the island as a sun-and-sand getaway from the grayscale that permeates most business environments.
3. Factory, Berlin, Germany
Berlin is one of the world’s leading destinations for entrepreneurs, digital nomads and other on-the-road creatives. Factory, a “community of innovators”, is arguably the king of its burgeoning coworking market. The boxy building, which abuts the German capital’s former dividing wall, has positioned itself not only as a home for tech first-timers but multinational corporations: Soundcloud, Uber and relayr’s Berlin teams are all based at the space.
Over 200 startups call Factory home, and its industrial, pared-down design is in keeping with Berlin’s flair for repurposed buildings and all-night raves. Little wonder it is now one of the city’s premier tech spots, having opened under the aegis of Udo Schloemer only in 2011.
4. WeWork SoHo, New York City, USA
WeWork’s SoHo location might not be its biggest, and its exposed-brick, simplistic design is the de facto look for coworking hubs around the world. But it is striking for the simple fact that it’s the ganglion of the world’s biggest coworking company, which now has 270 locations and has acquired no fewer than ten companies including Meetup, Naked Hub and, this month, MissionU.
The 1910-built spot is right in the heart of fashionable SoHo, and a hookup with the local coffee joint means an all-important supply of super-strong Joe for tireless entrepreneurs, artists and other freelance digital ninjas. Six floors and hundreds of desks means there’s never a small queue for cappuccinos, however.
5. Cocovivo, Isla de San Cristóbal, Panama
For those who truly desire a secluded workspace, Cocovivo, located on the gorgeous Bocas del Toro (Bull’s Mouths) archipelago is a natural wonder, as well as a prime spot for emailing, WebExes and other daily chores. Not only are there 145 acres of rainforest right besides the space, but Cocovivo’s local coral reef is explorable and, at night, bioluminescent.
The location’s traditional huts may scream isolation, but its facilities are sufficient to keep a startup alive remote. Cocovivo might be just about the best place on earth to “home office”. Or it could be a terrible way to slack on your office hitlist. Either way, you’ll have fun doing so.