What’s So Great About a Coworking Space?

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Why are coworking spaces so popular all around the world?  And how could you possibly justify the expense when you have a perfectly good office to work from at home, or a table and chair with free wifi and decent coffee at your favorite café?

Ok, I’m sure most people can imagine what a shared office space looks like - desks, tables, chairs, sofas, wifi, meeting rooms, and plenty of coffee, Right? What’s harder to understand is the larger economic benefits of participating in such a space until you experience it first hand.

If you’re on the fence about joining a coworking space, here are some big picture positive impacts to think about.

Coworking Keeps Stellar Talent In Town

Coworking spaces are “professional office buildings” for those who have the talent (and had the gumption) to create their own job in the midst of a crappy economy. Without coworking, many independent workers living in mid-sized rural areas like Prescott would have to commute or move their families to bigger cities with more opportunities. You might even know a few people who had to do that – kicking and screaming. Coworking helps them stay in town, preserving their money, talent, and enthusiasm for use in the local economy. I personally have come to love living and working independenly here in Prescott.  I have seen many dear friends pack up their belongings, leave their friends, and head to some giant, impersonal, concrete metropolis with their entire family in tow – and not very happy about it.

Coworking Supports Small Business Sustainability

Don’t let the mega-corps fool you: they are not job creators. They employ people only because it’s necessary for the creation and dissemination of their products and services, not because they want to revitalize a town. To them downsizing is not personal – it’s business! Well, I can tell you that downsizing IS personal to my neighbor and the local mom and pop.

Small to mid-sized businesses are truly the lifeblood of a local economy. They actually live and work and shop locally, and give a crap about the personal lives of their neighbors and employees. I don’t mean to diss those who work for these large corporations, because I know they’re grateful for the work – they’re supporting their families! But for those who desire to work for themselves – working in a coworking space can be a real lifesaver on so many different levels. And if those people, who do work for those large corps, get laid off and decide they want to start their own gig – a coworking space is a dang good place to help them get their footing.

Shocking fact: The independent workforce is predicted to grow to nearly 50% of the total workforce in America by 2021.  THAT’S ONLY 3-YEARS AWAY, PEOPLE! Don’t believe me? Here are the stats

So, who uses coworking spaces, and why? It might be a freelance writer who just formed her LLC, or couple of buddies who decided to create their own design company, or maybe a health coach who needs use of conference rooms for classes on a regular basis, or a construction contractor who lives 20 miles outside of town and just needs a quiet place in town to get paperwork done and printed before meeting with clients on the job site in town. In other words it’s a mix of people from different industries. It’s these businesses that are driving down unemployment rates at a time when multi-billion dollar companies are still laying people off.

Joining a coworking space means these tiny micro-businesses will have a safe place to grow and learn from more experienced members on how to build a sustainable business that can make quick critical shifts and survive hard times. When’s the last time you saw Home-Depot swapping trade secrets with the new family-owned retailer?
 

Coworking Creates A Network For Collaborative Consumption

The quest for bigger, better, faster has crippled our economy. People are tired of keeping up with the Jones’ and just want to keep their families fed. Collaborative consumption means reusing, growing, renting, bartering and making instead of buying. But this so called “new sharing economy” demands a network of friendly, trustworthy people to make it work. Like the people who work right next to you in a coworking space. Voila’!

Yes, coworking allows you to share your professional expertise and network with other successful freelancers. Why would you want to do that? Because, if your coworkers business succeeds - we all win. When we all build a stronger local economy through entrepreneurship, that means our neighbors are able to support their families without government assistance, and they’re able to afford to stay in the area, shop locally, and spend their discretionary money here! Another win-win.

Have you ever tried to build meaningful connections at a monthly chamber mixer, or by joining a highly focused business networking group that meets weekly? That maybe, kinda, sorta works, but actually not really. What makes coworking unique is the sharing that takes place on a personal level – be it a potluck meal on the patio of the coworking space, or an empathetic listening ear on a random workday, or a shared ride to a conference in Phoenix or Vegas.  Hmm? That sounds like, looks like, and acts like real, meaningful connections – called friendship.

When a community is connected and open to sharing, people save money, learn new skills, and reduce their impact on the environment. New ideas emerge, problems are solved in creative ways, and the community at large reaps all the rewards of a happy, successful independent workforce.

And if your still on the fence and looking for financial justification for the cost of membership here are a few more things to consider:
– The increase of revenue from more clients and or sales will often offset the membership fees within just a few months.
– If you work from a cafe' how much are you spending there each day?  The average cafe' worker spends around $12 a day (that adds up quickly over time)
– If you pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee to be part of a business networking group, you could funnel that toward your monthly membership fee and not only have a built in networking group, but also a place to work, plus all the other amazing benefits!
 

What other “trickle-down” benefits have you seen in the coworking community? Share your experience in a comment!

And if you’ve got friends who are still unsure that coworking is worth the monthly investment, please share your experience (and this article) with them as well!

Melanie BanayatComment