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What is a coworking space and how does it work?

Coworking, in its simplest form, is a shared space where people come together to work productively. But, when someone asks: What is a coworking space? It can come to mean so much more than just the physical environment. 

In this blog, we’ll look at the different types of spaces that can accommodate a coworking environment, the people who use coworking spaces, exactly how a coworking space works, and some coworking etiquette tips that will be good to know before you start working in a coworking environment.

What is a coworking space?

As we mentioned above, a coworking space is a term that can be applied to a range of different physical spaces. In the early days of coworking, it didn’t really matter what the space was or what it looked like – the idea was more about bucking the traditional office trend to find a better way to work. As this idea flourished, coworking spaces shifted from small studios towards bigger, light-filled buildings, which attracted everyone from creative freelancers to engineers and everyone in between.

Now, coworking spaces represent anywhere people can feel connected, motivated, and inspired. Whether that is at an established coworking space, a friend’s house, or even a childcare centre – there is an option to suit anyone and everyone. Here at Impact Hub Berlin, we support what people have called a “third space”, where you can enjoy social interactions with people outside of your work and home life in an area that is communal and community-driven.

These spaces are where you can compose your state of mind, focus, and lay out a plan for positive change that is parallel to your work and personal goals. That is why it is also important to find a space that is focused on a topic that aligns with your own values. There are plenty of coworking spaces out there supporting specific sectors  – from quantum technology to food to tech.

At Impact Hub Berlin, we are focused on impact. We are a space that empowers entrepreneurs and organisations to create a better world for people and the planet.
Over the past decade, we have worked to connect, enable, and inspire our network to scale ideas for a future that works for all. 

Who uses a coworking space?

According to the 2019 Global Coworking Survey, 42 per cent of people working in coworking spaces around the world were freelancers. This makes sense, as freelancers have no fixed office space and often seek a space to work outside their home environment. Entrepreneurs, startups, and think tanks are also likely to use coworking spaces because of the low overheads, flexibility offered, and community. Interestingly, some fully remote global companies also offer their employees stipends for a coworking membership in their area as a way for them to enjoy in-office perks with the flexibility of remote work. According to the survey, the main profession in coworking spaces globally was IT, followed by marketing and public relations.

At Impact Hub Berlin, the majority of our members are working in fields related to DEI, Green Tech, and the Circular Economy. In a membership survey we conducted last year, we found more than 60 per cent of our members were aged between 25 and 35 and more than a third have been with us for more than a year. 

This leads us to why people use coworking spaces. A lot of people join a coworking space to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness that can creep in when working from home. For others, it’s about drawing inspiration from those driving positive change in our world. Many also see coworking as a way to exchange ideas and learn about new topics from other impact innovators.

How does a coworking space work?

How people use a coworking space is as varied as the above question: what is a coworking space? We know the concept of coworking has evolved from being simply a shared office to work from to a community-driven space that supports and inspires its members. This evolution has meant coworking spaces are used for various purposes – from simple office spaces to event spaces, workshops, production studios, and more.

The way people can access these spaces has also changed. At Impact Hub Berlin, we have a range of ways for changemakers to use our space. We have two main memberships: the “resident” membership, which offers full-time access and the “connect” membership, which offers access to the space once a month (with the option to purchase additional days). We’ve also broadened our member options to include rented office space for those wanting their startup to be part of our impact community.

In our 2023 membership survey, we found more than a third of our community uses our space about two to three times per week. Our community-focused events, such as community lunches and Kaffee & Kuchen times are considered the most valuable by our members, who connect on similar views, values and entrepreneurial journeys.

Coworking etiquette

As with any workplace, there are ways of conducting yourself that help contribute to a positive, respectful, and welcoming space. Here are a few key ways to make sure you contribute to a collaborative and peaceful environment.

Say hello!

It is a simple thing to do, but it can go a long way to creating a welcoming environment. Research has shown that greeting others, especially those we don’t have a strong connection with, can help boost feelings of well-being. Not to mention, when you say hello, you are opening up a line of communication with someone you may want to collaborate with or network with later down the track.

Act responsibly

You know the saying, treat people as you would like to be treated? That also applies to your work environment. A clean, comfortable, and safe space is key to productivity and well-being. This means taking care of spaces you work in – leave meeting rooms or desks as tidy as you would like to find them, and clean up after yourself in the shared kitchen.

Communicate respectfully

If you need to approach someone in a coworking space, do so with respect and empathy. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and cultures, and so being mindful of how you speak to others is an important part of a communal workspace. It is best to ask others how they want to be addressed and how their name is pronounced if you are unsure. It is also best not to describe anyone by referring to their age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical appearance.

Be mindful of time

There is nothing worse than people running overtime in a meeting room that has already been booked by someone else. To avoid adding stress to someone else’s day, check the shared meeting room schedule and book yourself enough time. That way, you can finish your meeting a few minutes early to allow time for you to leave and the next person to set up.


In shared spaces, it is always polite to use headphones for any calls or videos to avoid disturbing the peacefulness of other members. If you need to have a team meeting, it’s always best to do so in areas such as meeting rooms, phone booths, or the cafe – well away from others trying to work.

From finding community to being inspired and sharing knowledge, there are so many reasons changemakers opt to work from a coworking space. Now you know what a coworking space is, who usually works from them, and how they operate, it might be time to try one out for yourself. If you would like to join our Impact Hub Berlin community, we would love to hear from you!