As part of our coworking project, we've been conducting a count to help us estimate the number of coworking facilities currently in the U.S.
One of the key issues is how we define what coworking facility is for the purposes of the study. Our critieria are:
1. self-identifies as providing coworking space or language very close to this
2. offers a range of membership options such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc. (does not need to offer them all)
3. offers open membership, or an open membership process
4. offers facilities broadly consistent with other coworking spaces including some form of community space
5. offers activities and facilitation that encourage community
6. coworking is an important part of the facility offering
7. the facility is actively in use
While these criteria generally work quite well, they are somewhat subjective and we've found identifying coworking facilities is a bit like identifying pornography - you know when you see it, but different people see it in different ways.
The reason is the growing number of hybrid coworking facilities and non-coworking facilities adding coworking space or features makes identification harder. Incubators and office suite companies in particular are actively adding coworking options and are often hard to categorize.
A good example is Semantic Seed. They are an start-up incubator in San Jose, CA. Founded by VCs, Semantic Seed also provides coworking space. We consider them a coworking facility, but other incubators and office suites claiming to offer coworking in some form do not meet our criteria or make our list.
Another interesting segment is the growing number of shared artisan/ DIY spaces. These facilities cater to both professionals and amateurs/hobbyists.
We include them if we think the facility meets the criteria above and is targeting and catering to professionals, even if a large share of their members are consumers/hobbyists. 3rd Ward and Tech Shop are good examples of artisan facilities that meet our coworking criteria.
Please let us know if you have other definitions or criteria, or disagree with ours.