Many GWA members would identify themselves as "Flexible Workspace" or "Shared Workspace" operators. After that, the more narrow definitions start to get more segmented. Some identify as "serviced offices," "executive suites," or "coworking spaces."
It's a Data-Driven Decision
When we communicate as an organization about the industry, particularly when Google is watching, we use the term "coworking."Our intention here is purely data-driven and it is to get SEO rankings which helps us to advance our efforts as an Association. The use of the word "coworking" is by no means meant to exclude a type of operator that doesn't self-identify as coworking.
See the most recent five-year search data from Google for "coworking," "serviced office" and "shared office."
Interest over time: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. Likewise a score of 0 means the term was less than 1% as popular as the peak.
It's The Name, Not the Layout
Coworking may once have been defined as creative freelancers or tech startups sitting at unassigned desks in an open seating plan (no walls). That is no longer the case. A November 2016 GWA survey of 85 self-identified coworking spaces shows us that the average number of offices per space was 26, the average number of dedicated desks: 21 and the average number of "hot desks": 34. One could conclude from this data that more square footage is dedicated to office space than to open plan seating in the average shared workspace that self-identifies as a "coworking space."
The Wikipedia definition of coworking is generic. As individuals, we may associate different meanings term or attach the cultural history to the term...and not identify it with our brand. And that decision is up to each operator. But the Wikipedia definition looks like it covers what we all do at a generic enough level that we can all embrace (at least at Google-search-rankings-chasing sort of level).
The Definition is broad, with the only value statement being one that we think we can all align around.