Coworking, the virtual office revolution

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Manish Shah is the former president of Midwest Law Printing in Chicago. He also worked at Intel, PwC and Motorola. He has an MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a MS in Computer Science from Illinois Institute of Technology. He can be reached at manishshahus@yahoo.com.

By Manish Shah
What  if you  had  the  freedom of working virtually but liked interacting with other people? You should take a closer look at coworking. Coworking facility is an office environment  that is shared   by multiple freelancers and companies. At this facility, you can rent a desk, book a conference room and   share office  equipment and services.

Coworking offers several benefits. It helps a company meet the office space demands of a workforce that is spread across the geography. It also lowers the cost of the company by  offering  an alternative to a permanent office space. Often coworking is cheaper than furnishing a telecommuting employee’s home with necessities such    as high speed internet and phone. Coworking is a great alternative to working from home, especially for employees, who cannot  be   productive at home. Coworking also helps reduce commute and the carbon footprint resulting from it. For people, who are self-employed, coworking offers a great opportunity to network and to be a part of a community.

A few companies are experimenting with coworking. Stonyfield farms based in New Hampshire, houses its West Coast sales staff at Sandbox Suites in San Francisco. The sales people at Automatic, a software company based in California, work side-by-side their customers at a space called Conjuctured in Austin, Texas.

However, there are hurdles  to implementing coworking. Employees are reluctant to give away their offices because of concerns related to stability and confidentiality. Also, it is not suited for jobs that  require solitude or high levels of privacy.

The coworking movement is slowly gaining momentum with about 70 locations in operation all over the world. It is likely to have a higher rate of success with Genera-tion Y — a generation that is technologically savvy and open to collaboration.

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