Berlin Co-Working Doubles in Just One Year Says Deskwanted Census

By Simone ODonovan |

It may not be to everyone’s taste, but co-working is set to be an important part of our working culture over the next few decades – according to a new survey, the prevalence of co-working spaces has nearly doubled in Berlin in just a year, and has tripled worldwide since 2010.

The so-called Global Co-Working Census was carried out by Berlin-based startup Deskwanted and put the German capital firmly at the heart of  the market in Europe. The US still has the most spaces overall, with co-working having initially become popular in San Francisco in 2006, but it is a growing phenomenon across the world.

Deskwanted is a network of co-working spaces that was founded in Berlin in 2010 by Carsten Foertsch and Joel Dullroy and its research suggests a strong desire on the part of independent workers to find such shared workspaces.

Stemming from San Francisco in 2006, the pros and cons of a shared workspace are still under scrutiny. However, according to Deskwanted, for Berliners it appears to be taking off with an 89 percent increase from 2012 to 2013 indicating an obvious leaning towards collaborative working environments.

The census has noted a worldwide increase of 300 percent since 2010. While the United States is naturally in the lead with 781 such spaces, Europe remains on the increase – Germany has 222, Spain 199 and Britain 154. Some of the most recent places where co-working has popped up include Jordan and Senegal.

According to Deskwanted, this growing popularity can largely be put down to the increasing amount of independent workers such as those who are working remotely, the self-employed/freelancers and those who are part of a small business looking for a flexible and affordable work space. In a co-working space, they often report an increase in their productivity and creativity as well as a shared sense of achievement.

Co-founder Joe Dullroy said: “When we set up we wanted to provide a one-stop shop where freelancers, and startups, could find affordable, flexible desk space in a collaborative and inspiring working environment. However, co-working has now become an exciting global movement which is transforming the way freelancers and small companies work, and we now have shared work spaces across the globe – from San Francisco to South Africa and Australia.”

Aside from the Deskwanted radar of collaborative working spaces, it is hard not to bear in mind the annoying co-worker, the possibility of alienation and the lack of privacy. It will linger as a controversial issue as long as rent for a Berlin flat remains cheaper than most work spaces.