By Allison Matyus

The culture of the 9-5 office job is making way towards a work-life balance that doesn’t necessarily involve a permanent desk with a nameplate. Companies — especially in the tech and entrepreneur spheres — are turning more and more to coworking spaces.

The arena of coworking spaces has boomed over the last five years or so, as the culture of work is changing. Instead of posting up at the corner coffee shop all day with spotty Wi-Fi, people are now working in coworking spaces, or an office shared by multiple independent workers or companies.

Not only do these spaces provide a productive place to get things done, but they also foster community. The Shift is one such coworking space in Chicago that has been around for about three years. There’s a location in Uptown and a location in Logan Square (perfect for those not wanting to commute to the Loop), and both put a focus on not only “getting shift done” but on fostering a sense of community.

“We’re a people-focused, neighborhood coworking space. We’re much more than a workplace,” said Nicole Vasquez, founder of The Shift. “We’re a friendly, collaborative, supportive community.”

The Shift takes coworking to the next level by offering monthly events where members can network, share their knowledge and expertise through a workshop, or even take a Pilates class.

Working remotely can mean missing out on the company culture that only an office provides, but coworking spaces like The Shift and 1871 are bridging that gap.

Located in Merchandise Mart, 1871 is not only a coworking space, but an innovation ecosystem focused on Chicago’s technology landscape. Members of 1871 also have access to monthly workshops, as well as mentorships and providing startups the resources they need to grow and succeed. Through its partnerships with companies like Apple, Comcast Business, and Microsoft, 1871 is providing the resources Chicago entrepreneurs need to grow and succeed.

Some companies that have started out at 1871 include SpotHero, ThinkCERCA, and Everpurse, and come April, 1871 will have a new CEO: Betsy Ziegler, Chief Innovation Officer at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

1871 has grown to house around 500 early-stage digital startups since it was founded back in 2012. The Shift has more than 100 members and was growing so much that the second location was needed to provide more space for members, which opened last March in Logan Square.

Vasquez explains the surge of popularity of coworking spaces by saying, “More and more people are working ‘remotely,’ and that number will continue to increase. We are human; we want to be around other people. Working from home is lonely and isolating.”

Spaces like The Shift and 1871 are valuable for work-from-homers and entrepreneurs alike because it’s an opportunity to find like-minded individuals along with the ability to collaborate and share industry expertise.

So many people look for that startup culture work atmosphere, and coworking spaces provide just that. There’s the productive energy of connecting and collaborating, along with the actual office perks like a 1871’s podcast studio, standing and treadmill desks, and laundry services; and The Shift’s 50-inch flat screens, free gourmet coffee, and even selfie sticks.

All perks aside, these kinds of spaces are ensuring Chicago’s entrepreneurs to make a real impact on the global landscape—whether it’s in the early stages of their company or as one single freelance worker.