Coworking spaces in urban settings: Prospective roles?

Coworking spaces (CWS) are workplaces created to provide infrastructure and interaction opportunities for independent professionals and freelancers. They are a result of a trend toward flexible and project-based assignments, shared use of durable assets and exchange of services. Despite controversy, they are argued to compose the hardscape of innovative urban ecosystems and public policies have stimulated their creation. In São Paulo, since 2016, both city and state administrations conducted initiatives to start public CWS. Despite efforts, results have been mixed, and the problem is related, in part to lack of clarity regarding the roles CWS can play to users and in their cities. To address this issue, five CWS roles are proposed: infrastructure provider, community host, knowledge disseminator, local coupling point and global pipeline connector, and the more roles a CWS plays, the greater its impact on the city.