Had a chat with someone today about the subject of CoWorking and cemented in my mind why coworking matters. First off, coworking, or shared office space, is the way of the future. I’m not talking like Dippin’ Dots being the ice cream of the future, I’m talking about businesses no longer wanting to house their workers in a hive somewhere that doesn’t improve productivity.
The numbers are on the rise. “By the end of the new year, nearly 1.2 million people worldwide will have worked in a coworking space,” reports an article in deskmag (link). Coworking fills many needs: inexpensive office space, networking potential, and superfriends. These are the 3 Mack Daddies as far as I’m concerned.
#1 – Inexpensive Office Space
So you say, “Boyd, I work from home. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that. I just head down to the local coffeeshop if I need a change of scenery.” Well, you’re right in one respect – It’s cheap. But does cheap mean good here?
Few freelancers would run out and sign a year lease on an office space, set up the utilities, and furnish the place. Coworking spaces handle all that for you. All you do is show up with your laptop, quill-and-parchment, or whatever your biz requires. Some, like WONDERSHOP, includes conference room access and free printing. Can you imagine a world without dealing with ink refills?
And let’s address the Coffeeshop Conundrum. They are terrific for getting fresh coffee and maybe something to snack on. Are they business minded? Is it quiet when you need quiet? Do you ALWAYS find a table where you can work and an outlet for your laptop/phone? If you need to meet a client, does the shop say, “This gal’s going places. We’re talking business next to some toddlers having a meltdown and a dude talking about his stock picks at a volume louder than it needs to be.” Is that the image your budding business deserves?
Depending on how much coffee you buy at those places, you may find coworking spaces are not much more for a big return in dependable space, amenities, and convenience.
#2 – NetWorking
No matter how cool it is to work in your jammies, there is virtually a 0% chance that you’ll find a new work buddy knocking at your front door or walking through your kitchen. Working from home can be awesome, but it can be very lonely. Sometimes you need to get outside and connect with other humans. Coworking does this.
Random water cooler talk and social events allows you to broaden your circle of friends in a non-commital way. You don’t work for the same company, or have to worry about office power plays. This means you can be more honest and build relationships that are geared toward your love of Anime instead of the latest launch of that so-so product you crafted. It also means that no one is offended when you say, “I gotta get back to work,” because they really don’t know what you do all day.
A good coworking space is somewhere you can build potential relationships WHILE getting a ton of work done. Productivity goes up when distractions go down right? Well your coworking chit-chat will be way less of a time waster than watching Star Wars while eating lunch, or walking the dog instead of getting that proposal out. Folks often say how they get more done at WONDERSHOP in 2 hours than they do in 5 hours at home.
#3 – SuperFriends
Working for yourself or building a startup is tough. You don’t have the staff that a major business has. You have a financial or graphic design question? Well you don’t have a department to ring up now do you? If you’re at a coworking space, you just may have all the resources you need.
You’ve got Superfriends when you cowork. Next to you may be a web designer, down the hall is a bookkeeper, and the person grabbing a coffee is a copywriter. The 6 Degrees of Separation shrinks to about 3 steps away from any service you may need – and they want to help you. There’s a sort of “we’re in this together” vibe at coworking spaces.
You may be a new, small media company but coworkers see you as an instant resource. The woman sitting across from you complains about a client they have and you strike up a conversation. You learn they’ve got some gaps in their planning, and so does the woman. She makes a call to the client for you and you’ve got an in to talk about selling them your services. How often does that happen at home in your jammies?
I’m not saying that coworking is the solution to all your freelance needs but I’ve learned that it has an incredible upside that you may not have realized. Only after you try it, do you get it. So get out of your house and give coworking a try!