The nature of work is changing. The centralised office setup of the past is swiftly being supplanted by a decentralised workforce more familiar with flexibility than the strict office culture that defined the decades leading up to the 90s.

The stuffy nature of the formal office environment, with its cubicles, watercooler moments and strip lighting are a thing of the past. These days, offices are more likely to have a comfortable sofas for informal meetings, a breakout room to chill in and hot desks so that people can work wherever suits them best each.

That’s if they go into the office at all. Hot desking is a reflection of our technological capability to take work home or wherever else we want to go. It’s a big change culturally and one welcomed by a younger generation of worker that’s happy to answer Slack messages on a smartphone late into the evening.

Not only are we much less tied to our offices, but we are much less tied to companies overall. In the US, the number of freelancers in the five years leading up to 2018 increased by nearly 4 million! That is a nearly 11% growth in full time freelancers and nearly 42% of millennials in the US are freelancing – according to research by Upwork.

But we still need places to work and meet – we’re not animals! Sometimes it’s nice to change out of your pyjamas and sit in an office with other real humans, hence the growing popularity of flexible working spaces like WeWork. One in eight new startups in the US are WeWork members and it’s not only popular in the US!

In Mexico, where WeWork joined 4YFN last month in its premier showing in the country, the company already has 11 offices with a further seven planned over the next year. Having started operations in Mexico just shy of three years ago, WeWork’s growth curve in the LATAM region is vertical. This is owed in part to its adoption of a well defined business model and making it customer-centric and agile. 90% of WeWork’s business is comprised of single offices or entire floors dedicated to companies.

Not only do these places serve as important spots to connect with like-minded individuals, they help them to form communities and realise shared interests: half of members confirm that working at WeWork has helped them to enter new markets.

Shared workspaces are particularly suitable for startups who require flexibility over all else. As great as the ‘in-some-guy’s-garage’ startup folklore is, the fact is that entrepreneurship is professionalising, in part because of the availability of game-changing services like WeWork.

They provide comfortable surroundings, proper desks, meeting spaces and all the trappings of a real company, without the 5-year-lease and office furniture costs. In fact, they use space 2.5 times more efficiently, helping reduce the carbon footprint of ‘officing’ by 1.75 million metric tonnes!

If it is more convenient, offers great flexibility and is more efficient, it is little wonder the co-working market is growing so quickly. It reflects much more than a simple cultural change between generations but also a big opportunity for the future of work. That helps to build the startup ecosystem around the world and, if there is one thing 4YFN endorses, it is businesses and services that help entrepreneurs thrive.

To find out more about how you could co-work, please go to wework.com