New Businesses Find Unique Ways to Use Space
Published: October 9, 2013 (Issue # 1781)
In the late 17th century, the first cafe in the world opened in Paris. As a novel way of using real estate hundreds of years ago, it hardly surprises anyone today. What may be surprising, however, is that the traditional format for cafes and restaurants is losing its appeal as a gathering place as more and more people seek the comforts of home without any of the mess that attends food preparation. A domestic atmosphere is unsuitable though for many daily transactions, especially when business needs to be done. As a result, a new notion of public space is emerging — the “third place.” The term was coined by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg in 1991. Oldenburg states that in modern urban societies, time is primarily spent in isolated first (home) and second (work) places. In contrast, third places offer a neutral public space for a community to connect and establish bonds. Third places host regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work. Starbucks, the American coffee shop chain, was the first to latch onto the idea of such “third places.” As time passed, new formats of commercial real estate were launched on the market to become part of public life.
The first new form is coworking spaces, a format that emerged in 2005 and appeared in Russia five years later.
“Coworking represents a model of work when all of the participants are free and independent but share office space for their businesses,” said Yelena Prozorova, a consultant at Maris, part of the CBRE Affiliate Network.
The creative fields — IT specialists, freelancers, start-ups and designers – all make use of coworking spaces instead of a traditional office. People can rent a working place in a coworking space for an hour or for a month. With an average rental rate of 5000 to 6000 rubles ($155- 186) per month, it is an affordable alternative for anyone just starting out. Moreover, coworking spaces offer opportunities to meet new people and share ideas. The special features of this format of real estate use are the round-the-clock access it provides to office equipment, kitchens and meeting rooms.
According to statistics provided by Maris, there are 2,072 coworking spaces in the world, 878 of which are in Europe and 797 based in the United States. St. Petersburg has 15 coworking spaces, only about ten of which fully match the format.
“Coworking spaces were not actively developed for a long time, as most people regarded them simply as internet cafes. In Russia, there is no one image of a coworking space. True coworking combines the comforts of an office, communication with peers and clients and the unique atmosphere of a start-up,” said Prozorova.
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