For Melissa Smith, who is from the South and has worked in the hospitality industry, community is a big part of who she is.
“I didn’t know anything about coworking, I just knew there was this need to gather,” Smith said. “It’s very easy to feel isolated in Los Angeles.”
But another big part of Smith’s life is her faith, so six years ago when she started Epiphany Space, a coworking office for creative professionals in Hollywood, she did so through a Christian lens.
“You can go to a coffee shop, you can go to a library, but those places you’re not necessarily building intentional relationships,” Smith said.
The number of coworking offices in the U.S. has grown exponentially over the past few years. According to the 2019 Colliers International flexible workspace report, there were fewer than 300 coworking spaces in the U.S. in 2010. At the end of 2017, there were more than 4,000.
In Dallas, Raleigh-Durham, Boston and Seattle, the number of coworking spaces has doubled in less than two years.
People are flocking to coworking spaces because they are often less expensive than renting out a dedicated office for your business. Plus, many coworking offices come with administrative staff, access to printers, Wi-Fi and meetings rooms. But they are also popular for the social benefits: free coffee and snacks, regular happy hour events, “Zen rooms” and showers.
Building community among the many freelancers, remote workers and small businesses that work in these shared offices is part of the goal for most coworking spaces. It was the goal for Smith too when she started Epiphany Space.