What is coworking? How to explain


by Diana McLaren

At some point, all people who cowork will face the dubious task of trying to explain what coworking is. If you’ve just joined a coworking space or if you’ve been in one for years, at some point you’ll have to justify why you work from a place that might seem more like a clubhouse than an office.

Coworking is still an emerging industry and, while many people are now familiar with the term, it’s sometimes hard to explain.

I’ve heard explanations from, “it’s like a commune for people on computers,” to “it’s like having your own Google office.” What’s the best way to explain what we’re doing? What’s the best way to ‘pitch’ coworking?

Here are some quick ways to explain what coworking is:

If you’re talking to a stranger:
“It’s a place for people to work on their own thing, side by side in camaraderie.”

If you’re explaining it to your kids:
“Work is kind of like school: it can be hard, but it can also be fun if you have good friends—and swings.”

If you’re explaining it to your archenemy:
“I work from a place that has Friday drinks and a naptime space. How’s that cubicle looking?”

If you’re explaining it to a business person:
“It’s a chance to have the freedom of working from home, the facilities of a real office, plus a social atmosphere and sense of community.”

If you’re explaining it to a long-time freelancer:
“It’s a place where we work together and talk to each other, rather than work alone and talk to our pets.”

If you’re talking to someone else who works from a coworking space:
—“It’s awesome.”
—“I know, right?”

If you’re explaining it to someone in a shared office:
“I have everything you have but I get to talk to the people next to me and have a great time. I’m probably also paying less.”

If you’re explaining it to someone who just doesn’t get it:
“It’s kind of like getting a gym membership but instead of treadmills you get an awesome office, and instead of working on your body you work on your business.”

If you’re explaining it to your mum:
“Rather than camping out in coffee shops or being alone at home I now work in a supportive environment full of people who are also working hard, so I have a helpful community and enjoy my day more. Trust me, it’s better than a ‘job’ job.”

If you’re explaining it to your boss:
“It will make me a better worker. And, no, of course I won’t spend all of my time in the hammocks or playing ping pong…”

If you’re talking to someone who really needs to get out of the house and join us:
“Come and work with us.”

If you’re talking to a tea or coffee addict:
Twitch, and say, “I drink coffee and tea all day. And it’s free.”

If you’re over trying to explain it all the time:
“It’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”

If you have a best – or worst – explanation of what coworking is, leave it in the comments. We’d love to do a roundup.

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Gratisography and edited (yeah, the paintings) by New Worker Magazine.


  1. Victoria 08/06/2015 at 1:02 am #

    Coworking is where the curious and passionate discover they are no longer alone and get a chance to create valued connections and collaboration.


  2. Plexpod 08/07/2015 at 6:47 pm #

    One of our favorite ways to describe a coworking community is the word collaboration. The best part of any day is when you find yourself in a serendipitous meetup, happening in the hallways or commons at @Plexpod. It’s the best benefit of membership in a coworking community. If you’re ever in Kansas City, head our way!!


  3. Vibhuti 03/25/2017 at 5:42 am #

    Being at home all day gives plenty of scope for distractions to slow down your work and deviate you from your path and goals. For individual professionals who need to stay focused and want to separate work from home, coworking is a great solution that allows them to work towards a better work-life balance.


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