Instead of working alone, independent workers—freelancers, contractors, independent consultants and temps—are increasingly joining coworking spaces. These are collaborative work environments where independents can rent desk and meeting space down to the hour. Roughly like a gym membership, at coworking spaces, you pack a laptop instead of sweats.
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In Oakland, 2012 is the boom year for formally expanding prevailing cubicle centered notions of work and worker archetypes. By the end of the year, Oakland will have at least four formal coworking spaces.
Tech Liminal, Oakland’s first formal coworking space, is wedged between a tattoo shop and a fabric store on 14th street near Alice. Founded in 2009 by Anca Mosoiu, this technology hotspot and salon is frequented by novice web developers, entrepreneurs interested in tech, and DIY’ers.
Tech Liminal is part of a rising national trend. Last year, the number of coworking locations more than doubled to 1,320 according to the coworking magazine Deskwanted.
“Overall the number of people participating is growing… at a rate of 125% a year. We’re seeing this in a lot of industries,” he said. “We’re seeing that growth outside of traditional tech places [such as] facilities targeted at artists, people who make things, and small manufacturing companies.”
According to King, women comprise about 35% of the membership of US coworking spaces. Yet, they comprise 53% of the independent workforce. As the independent workforce grows and as coworking broadens into more fields, we will see more women coworking.
In 2011, there were 16 million freelancers, contractors, independent consultants and temps in the U.S., according to Emergent Research. At the current growth rate, Emergent projects, that by 2020 roughly half the U.S. workforce will be comprised of independent workers.
At Tech Liminal, the focus is on building the sort of culture that welcomes women, people of color and children.
Today, Tech Liminal coworkers are mostly women and people of color.
Raised in communist Romania, Mosoiu says that she grew up with the mantra that everyone is equally capable.
“We have a support group style. Most of it is coaching. You come here and together we look at possible solutions,” she said.