Henri Burgers and Vareska Van de Vrande
Towards an Understanding of the Economies of Neighbourhoods and Communities
Erik Stam and Vareska van de Vrande
This chapter discusses the rise of co-working spaces for solopreneurs. The Netherlands has seen a very rapid increase in the number of solo self-employed (solopreneurs) over the last decades. This has led to an increase in the demand for flexible work spaces. This chapter provides an empirical analysis of a particular co-working space case study in the Netherlands: Seats2meet. The chapter presents the results of a large survey among users of this co-working space. This study systematically analyses the motives and outcomes of the solopreneurs working at these spaces. Solopreneurs in this co-working space are highly educated and relatively young, and mainly active in business services, IT and creative industries. They use the co-working space because it offers them an alternative to working alone from home and more in general enables a change of working environment. The opportunity to interact with others is also an important motive to join a co-working space. As a result, co-working spaces are perceived to contribute to both the development of individuals and their business. More in particular, to improve current products and services and to develop new ones, to expand the customer network and to improve business skills. Co-working also seems to reduce the pressure on inner-city traffic, as most solopreneurs travel to work by bike or public transport. Self-employed workers are more home-based than employees, which might mean an increasing use of the neighbourhood as a place of both living and working. Solopreneurs, especially the higher-educated segment, are more likely to work in a co-working space (temporarily), perhaps not in the neighbourhood, but very likely in the same city, which might imply the rise of the multifunctional city, with distinct places to live and work, within one city, instead of commuting between cities. So the rise of solopreneurs seems to reinforce the use of the neighbourhood, while the use of co-working spaces might favour perhaps the city, but not necessarily the same neighbourhood.