The concept of coworking has developed beyond a change in a professional’s workday—it’s changed the way people do business. In 1994, the Chiat/Day ad agency built a New York office that was designed to break every workplace tradition, with the help of Italian architect Gaetano Pesce. There were no offices or personal desks, the walls literally glowed with vibrant colors and hieroglyphs and surfaces were built to seemingly hinder productivity (such as tables coated with resin that made paper stick to the surface and chairs that wobbled intentionally).
As expected, the workers of Chiat/Day abandoned the space within a year, but the coworking community sees that office as a revolution. It was one of the first creative, open-planned, collaborative spaces within Corporate America, and it taught the rest of us that it’s okay to break the rules and to learn from our failures.
Today, there are currently more 18,900 coworking spaces worldwide with 1.7 million cumulative members. Office buildings are advertising open “Creative Space” and abandoning traditional offices, enticing new tenants with open floor plans and exposed architectural features. Nonstandard items such as treadmill desks and office yoga are no longer startling concepts, they’re becoming commonplace. While many feel there are downsides to this new, collaborative workplace (such as noise distraction and a higher likelihood of spreading illness), with more than 70% of US offices featuring an open-plan design something is obviously working.