Increasing numbers of independent employees 'turning to co-working platforms'

A practice whereby independent workers get together and share an office rather than working alone at home is proving very popular.

New research shows that co-working, as it is known, is attracting growing numbers of freelancers and independent contractors.

Associate Professor Vareska van de Vrande from Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University, who conducted the study, also found that working in a shared environment comes with a range of benefits.

Such settings help to boost productivity among self-employed professionals, generate jobs, form professional collaborations and increase business know-how, the study suggests.

Unlike in a typical office environment, however, those co-working are usually not employed by the same organisation.

But many independent workers actually prefer to pool their resources in a central location rather than working alone in home offices, at the kitchen table or in the local coffee shop.

The research, which compiled input from more than 500 users of a co-working platform, reveals that 12.5% found a new job or temporary assignment through working in such an environment.

Some 25%, meanwhile, started professional partnerships or collaborations with other co-workers, plus 50% discovered their business know-how - such as the correct use of tax forms - had significantly improved.

Co-working offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience when working at home, it is believed, while at the same time letting them escape the high number of distractions dotted about the home.

The possibility of meeting people, the often central location, and the possibility of interacting with others were all reasons for using the platform.

A change of working environment (40%) was the most common motive that people gave for co-working, followed by having no office of their own (19%) and wanting to be more flexible in terms of the locations and times they worked (16%).

The researchers also found that the large diversity of co-working users and their wide-ranging professions made it easier to establish new connections with potential customers, forge new business connections and find new colleagues.

In terms of the platform's make-up, 65% of people were entrepreneurs, 10% were students and around 5% were out of work.

Copyright Press Association 2013