Coworking in America is typically seen as a trendy and cool way to find a work space and have the advantage of an open and collaborative atmosphere to work in. In Africa, there is a boom in the number of coworking spaces for much more practical reasons.
The rise of coworking in the United States has already happened — largely because of the sheer number of freelancers and entrepreneurs who don’t otherwise have a dedicated space to work in. According to Deskmag, there are almost 800 coworking facilities in the U.S. now. In 2013 there were only about 300; in 2008, there were only about 40.
Economist reports that a conservative estimate puts the number of coworking spaces in Africa around 90 — but there are surely many more than that.
The increase in the number of coworking spaces in Africa is due to the fact that internet access is often expensive and hard to come by, office spaces are extremely expensive to rent, and electricity is notoriously unreliable.
Having a clean and reliable office space is essential for productivity and job satisfaction. Studies have shown that well-lit, safe workplaces can lead to a 16% increase in productivity and a 24% increase in job satisfaction.
In Africa, the majority of people who use coworking spaces are a member of tech start ups and small businesses.
In addition to increasing job satisfaction and productivity, standards and productivity also rise, by 62% and 71%, respectively. Though coworking spaces in Africa solve immediate problems like the lack of an affordable space, internet access, and reliable power, coworking spaces can nurture the growth of the small businesses that use them as well.