If Healthy is the New Black, Then Coworking Might Just Be the Healthy Choice for Independent Workers
Is a coworking space really better than working from home?
As a freelancer or independent worker you’ve probably heard a lot of the assumptions that people have about being “location-independent”. When you tell someone you’re a freelance writer, they smile and say, “That must be great. You can work from anywhere!” You usually end up answering questions about whether you work in your pajamas and slippers, and they may even conjure up some romantic image of you working in a café much like what they’ve seen in the movies.
But when you don’t have your own office — or even a dedicated cubicle — it can be tough to find a place where you can focus on your work. Home comes with distractions and imperfect work surfaces, especially if you live in a small apartment, or share a home with roommates or other family members (even the family pet can be a distraction). Working from home also enmeshes work with home life - it’s easy to get pulled in 24/7 and suddenly you’ve become a workaholic. Lugging your laptop to a coffee shop doesn’t always work either, because the din of the café atmosphere gets exhausting after a while. Sometimes, finding the right place to work can make you feel a little like Goldilocks.
Many independent workers struggle to strike a balance between the freedom and discipline at their chosen workspace. Have you ever found yourself scrolling through the online photo gallery of a coworking workspace and get wide-eyed at images of carefully planned spaces, and then crunch numbers to weigh the cost of a daily or monthly membership. Coworking spaces are very attractive for very good reason.
Working from home: A short-lived dream?
For many the home workspace usually rotates between the couch, the kitchen table, the coffee shop and the public library.
Of course working in a coffee shop can leave you feeling like you’re over imposing as a Wi-Fi squatter -- even if you tip well. You may end up buying more coffee or a muffin purely out of guilt. If you tally how much you spend at the café you might find that you can spend that same amount as a drop in at a coworking space – and you get all the coffee you want.
It seems that just a few years ago, we were all so excited about jobs with flexible schedules that allowed us to use our various devices to work from home or anywhere. We had big dreams of accomplishing load after load of laundry during daylight hours while juggling conference calls and deadlines. Now, the novelty has worn off.
Fifty-three million Americans identify as freelancers, according to a recent survey commissioned by Freelancers Union. And now that working from home is passé, we’re starting to wear out our welcome — and our wallets — at coffee shops. Enter the coworking space, brimming with plenty of work stations for focused productivity, endless coffee, Friday Happy Hours, camaraderie and even learning opportunities.
What’s coworking all about?
What if a day at the office is actually good for you? How much more interesting would your day be to interact across a variety of specialties with your fellow independent officemates during a mid-day lunch and learn, or after-5 happy hour?
Of course, coworking isn’t a new idea. For centuries creatives and entrepreneurial types have gathered to work in salon cultures (collectives and retreats) in order to satisfy their need for intellectual stimulation. But the current crop of coworking enthusiasts have updated the concept with an aesthetic that’s conducive to our modern day needs for technology, conference rooms, and event space as well.
The big question is…do the benefits outweigh the costs of paying for a workspace?
Is a coworking membership worth the cost?
According to the annual Global Coworking Survey the resounding answer from independent workers (of all types) across the globe is: yes. These new drop-in-friendly office spaces often come with user-friendly perks that make the cost justifiable .
If you’re spending much of your time alone during your workdays you may come to feel an aching desire to get out of your home to be around other people. Self-motivation problems, and feelings of isolation can lead to poor productivity, loss of clients, and even the real risk of falling into depression. It’s those feelings of isolation that are most common among independent workers who seek shared workspace.
Such problems are critical. As a professional in your line of work you have to be highly motivated and focused because your livelihood depends primarily or solely on your own initiative.
$170 per month grants you access to unassigned desks and couches for as long as you wish with 24-hour access with no long-term contracts. And the work-life divide feels refreshingly different — as you see the same people and feel comfortable leaving stuff on your desk when you step away to take a phone call.
So when you have deadlines to meet, it’s worth the cost to get yourself to a productive place.
Is a coworking space a good choice for you?
Sometimes it takes more than just a desk and unlimited coffee to reach peak productivity. When an independent worker knows what works for them, it’s worth staying on that track — even with a price tag. We’re creatures of habit – we tend to thrive when we can get into a healthy routine. Having a professional workspace to go to can help you maintain that routine and stay on schedule. If a coworking space is what it takes to increase your value as an independent worker to becoming that reliable person that clients, customers, and companies want to hire then it's kind of a no-brainer. And that, my friends, is just part of how you create your own job security as a freelancer, entrepreneur, or remote worker.