Contrary to what the Talking Heads like to sing, we DO know where we've been.  And to better know where we're going it's important to sometimes look back on that.  People sometimes forget how young "coworking" is, and there are some tidbits about our history that many people do not know.  For example, did you know that a meet-up group called Jelly (not the pancake house) had a strong part to play in elevating coworking to a worldwide phenomenon?  Bet you didn't.  So grab a plate of flapjacks, sit back, and check out this brief timeline on the history of coworking from the good people at Density Coworking!  


  • The term “coworking” was first used in 1999 by Bernie DeKoven describing collaborative work supported by computer and new technologies of the day.


  • Coworking, as we know it today involving a physical space, started in 2005 when Brad Neuberg used the term to describe a physical space where independent and mobile workers came together to work in a casual environment. Neuberg first started the Hat Factory in San Francisco in a work/live loft.


  • Citizen Space in San Francisco, considered to be one of the first coworking spaces, opened and lead the global coworking movement.
  • Jelly is started by two New York City roommates, Amit Gupta and Luke Crawford, promoting mobile workers getting together in a casual work environment. Jelly takes off in NYC and recieves media attention from around the world encouraging others to start a Jelly group in their home city.


  • 75 coworking spaces are operating in the world; starting the trend of double the number of spaces nearly every year.
  • Jelly groups continue to grow in cities like Austin, Phoenix, and San Francisco that lead many groups to find a permanent coworking space.
  • This is a break out year for the coworking movement as spaces continue to open across the world and the major media outlets start to build awareness of the movement


  • 160 coworking spaces are open throughout the world
  • Most major cities throughout North America and Europe have a coworking community

2009 to 2011

  • The coworking movement continues it’s momentum and nearly doubles each year to over  1,130 communities at the end of 2011.
  • ING Direct owns and operates a coworking space as in Toronto as a way to attract and interact with banking customers. ING Direct is the first corporation to use coworking as a corporate promotional means.
  • Europe and the USA host coworking conferences as the industry grows so knowledge can easily be shared between ‘veteran’ operators and new coworking catalyst.
  • The first chains of coworking spaces start to develop with places like NextSpaces in California


  • Coworking spaces break the 2,000 number
  • Att&t and Accenture through LiquidSpace use coworking spaces as a way to drive collaboration and offer new flexible work solutions for mobile workers. This signals to a trend where corporations could be the next growth phase to the coworking movement.
  • NextSpace receives over $800,000 in funding for expansion and opens their 7th location.

Going Into the Future

By the end of this year there will be almost 15,000 coworking spaces in the United States.  If that doesn't blow your mind, Small Business Labs estimates there will be 26,000 spaces and 3.8 million members across the planet!  So tell us, why haven't you joined the coworking revolution yet?

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