What if school was a coworking space?

Tue Nov 1, 2022

The shift is happening, and coworking spaces are becoming a key resource in many individual and company workflows. Why not school?

The online world is building an infinite amount of space for people to work 100% remotely, to start online businesses, and to find alternative avenues of income to the traditional salaried positions.

Coworking spaces have gained huge popularity in the past decade. The pandemic years aside, their popularity has spiked since the world has returned to public spaces and restored a sense of normalcy. However, the pandemic has created a state of ‘new normal’. The Great Resignation is in full swing, with the desire for wanting more flexibility and work-life balance being one notable reason for employees ditching their old roles. 

Overall, a coworking space is simply a space that provides access to quiet or busy environments where individuals or small groups can go to work. They are the middle-man in the growing trend of hybrid working, allowing people to still have a sense of ‘going to work’ without needing to physically go to the office. They are spaces that those who have become predominantly remote workers can get out of the house, drink decent coffee and potentially connect and network with other like-minded individuals, then chuck on a pair of headphones and settle in for some deep work in an environment surrounded with people - but perhaps not the people we tend to find most distracting when working in our company offices. Gone are the distractions of office gossip, being roped into last-minute meetings, and exchanging polite yet awkward small-talk with Fred from Finance. Gone are the days of stale biscuits and freeze-dried coffee from the break room and Meal Deal lunches, and hello to the days of artisan coffees, freshly made pastries and some fancy variant of avocados on bread for lunch.

Co-working spaces allow workers to set the pace and tone of their working environment. With over 6000 coworking spaces dotted around the UK alone, workers have a myriad of different environments to choose that provides for their optimum workspace and workflow. People are unique in how and when they work and these flexible hybrid spaces allow us to flow the way that serves us best. Like right now? I have a Netflix show I’ve seen a million times playing in the background. As a singer, I find music too distracting, but TV shows that I don’t have to pay attention to are my ideal background noise. Putting Netflix on in a traditional office space could definitely raise a few eyebrows from fellow colleagues and bosses, but in a coworking space you have the freedom to work the way you want without judgements or perceptions from colleagues.

So this brings us to the point of this blog - what if school was a coworking space? What if children had the same set up? If coworking spaces are becoming the new norm, why don’t we educationally ‘raise’ the next generation in an environment that mimics the ones that they are likely going to be using once they enter the workforce? It’s a revolutionary idea and takes a fair bit of radical thought, but what if children were dropped off to (supervised) cowork spaces instead of school, were able to get on with the tasks they have for the week completely online, attend a few classes with regularly scheduled teachers but other than that set their own pace and tone for completing their schoolwork and homework? It would be a great place to meet different children, they could travel and learn wherever their parents need them to be, and they could take as long or as little time as they like on each subject until the tasks are completed. Their day can be built around extra-curricular appointments and hobbies, could avoid the rush hour traffic and could allow them to set their workflow rhythm in line with their sleep schedule (see this earlier blog exploring the clash of the school timetable with teen circadian rhythms).

What do you think? How could this become a reality? What are the challenges and obstacles between the current system and this almost alternate-reality concept? Does it have to be such a radical thought at all?

Lauren Brooks
Head of Wellbeing