Coworking spaces that have revolutionized the traditional 9-to-5 are turning their attention to the full-time job of parenting.
To put it mildly, coworking spaces are on the rise. Freelancers and corporate entities alike are flocking to the flexible shared environments with enthusiasm: since 2010, coworking spaces have grown at an average rate of 23% per year, according to research from JLL. And this growth shows no signs of stopping, with the number of global coworking members expected to grow to 3.8 million by 2020 and 5.1 million by 2022.
This shift is contributing to an evolution of the workday format that emphasizes community, creativity and fluidity. Now, these spaces are beginning to acknowledge that parents – who are increasingly seeking conveniences that grant a more nimble, stress-free and seamless parenthood – could benefit from a similar adaptation, especially after the cost of childcare hit an all-time in 2018. Big names in coworking are hoping to modernize life for working parents with transformative services designed specifically around children.
WeWork revolutionized the workspace when it was founded almost ten years ago, bringing a new sense of freedom and creativity to the workday. The company cites “a macro shift towards a new way of work—one focused on a movement towards meaning” that “redefin[es] success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line.”
Now, the company wants to do for kids and parents what it did for coworking and professional communities. WeGrow, The We Company’s new “conscious entrepreneurial school,” launched in October 2018 In New York City. The school shares several pillars of WeWork’s ethos, including their freeform approach with a mission to offer organic, unstructured community learning and an emphasis on design.
“With this first location in New York City, we have created a space to facilitate and accommodate WeGrow’s transformative approach to learning,” explained Bjarke Ingels, WeWork’s chief architect and founding partner and creative director of BIG, the design firm behind the WeGrow space. “Children realize they have agency and when design is less prescriptive and more intuitive — we don’t have to tell kids how to use the space and every interpretation of how they use the space is good.”
In October 2018, popular women’s social club and coworking space The Wing announced that it would begin piloting childcare and family programming. With this initiative, the female-centric collective hopes to further disentangle women from the reductive stereotypes and timeworn barriers of working motherhood. “By offering a solution for our members who are parents, we want to help contribute to a world where there is no perceived motherhood penalty,” said The Wing cofounder and COO Lauren Kassan.
To accomplish this, The Little Wing offers services and programming to ease the transition to working parenthood. Along with babysitting and children’s enrichment classes, members will have access to parenting seminars like “Your Child’s Schedule: How Much is Too Much?,” “There is Something Bigger Than Just Ourselves: Ways to Incorporate Spirituality and Religion Into Family Life,” and “Your Child’s Self Concept: Fostering Confidence, Self-Love and Humility,” as well as sessions that address queer parenting and family planning.
“The Wing’s mission is the advancement of women through community,” Kassan explained. “It was really vital for us to offer a solution to our members who are parents or thinking about or trying to become parents – by creating a dedicated space and support system for them through The Little Wing.”
In Seattle, coworking space The Inc began offering childcare options in May 2018 in an effort to transform how parents work. “The workplace is changing and becoming more flexible, but we haven’t really seen child care go along with that,” said Marlene Mejia Weiss, co-executive director of The Inc. “We’re incubating a new way to work and raise your young children.”