Notes on “What is Coworking?” (Part 5): Demographics

Coworking Notes, Part 5 of 6. Demographics of coworking communities

In this series of posts I am sketching the variations that can be seen in communities in coworking spaces. I discussed the variability in the overall community, some of the “rules” that can be seen in their self-descriptive web pages, how communities are recruited and “curated”, and what kinds of interactions are encouraged or allowed.

Many of the variations in coworking spaces appear to be explicitly or implicitly targeting particular populations of workers. This is revealed in the descriptions of “who we are”, which often reveals that “we” are young, male, software guys, or young “creative”. Even if this isn’t explicit policy, the community may well be self-selecting. All night beer parties fit certain life styles and not others.

Several interesting cases are obviously deliberately seeking to serve other “grown up” demographics. Some spaces are far more welcoming to pets than others, which may indicate less nomadic, or older membership. Some spaces feature child care spaces collocated with the cowork space—clearly catering to working parents rather than frat boys. This group will be older and more female than the “badass” community, almost certainly.

There are some spaces that explicitly cater to women. I’m sure there is more than one way to “cater”, but the important thing is that such catering is viewed as necessary or advantageous.

As far as I know, there is little information about the ethnic or cultural make up of coworking communities. Given the low bar for entry, coworking spaces are certain in reach for many workers. But do coworking communities reflect the diversity of their location (to the degree that makes sense)? Are coworking communities self-selecting to the extent that, like Silicon Valley, they are dramatically skewed demographically? Or do they bring in marginal individuals and build bridges among people who might not otherwise collaborate? It would be interesting to investigate these questions.

More tomorrow.


 

This is a working note describes ideas I’m developing that will need further research. It is based on preliminary examination of we sources, though I have not given citations here. The dataset will be explained and published at a later date.

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