Sixty years ago, the last generation of workers began their careers, when the concept of a stable and reliable income was attractive to the post-Depression era generation seeking their piece of the American Dream.
Today, the meaning of work has changed. A job is no longer a long-term guarantee and, as a result, it is less and less a place we go from 9-to-5. Due to a variety of factors, including economic challenges and the growth of information technology, people are neither committed to, nor confined by, one role. Corporate downsizing has resulted in fewer employees, and who need to wear more hats. A lack of available full-time jobs has inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs and free agents to redefine work and create new roles for themselves – those that fit into their personal lives rather than the reverse. Lastly, thanks—and no thanks—to the growth of technology, work today follows us wherever we go, so it can fit into our lives in any place and any time.
Benjamin Dyett, co-founder of the coworking community Grind, told the Chicago Tribune:
Over the last 10 years a new way of working has emerged, along with some people who live it every day. They’re available 24/7. They network endlessly, and then plug their skills into others’ in surprising combinations. They choose when and how they do what they do, on their terms. They don’t want job security — they want career fluidity. We call them free radicals. And they’re creating the future of work.
And it’s not just the concept of career that needs to be fluid. The workplace needs to conform with this increasing need for flexibility, and most corporate offices are not keeping up.
The coworking movement is the first real response to the unique demands of this new generation of workers. They make everyone his own boss—or at least feel like it. Coworking spaces are the physical iteration of the freedom and collaboration. They represent, more than any other environment, the workplaces of the future.