Since I’m a Community Manager of a coworking space, you would think my response to this would be ‘pro-coworking all the way! Duh! That’s my job!’ But you would be mistaken. I was quite skeptical about “coworking” when I came on board (not that I mentioned that in my interview ;)) but more than anything, I was unsure and not totally won over by the concept. What were the benefits? Why wouldn’t I just work from home everyday?
I have been apart of Inspire9, Melbourne’s original community-led coworking space, for over a year now and this is what I have learnt when it comes to coworking vs. working from home.
When I really think about it, the only two pros I can muster up from working from home is:
- Working from home is freeeeee
- Working from home is the only place where it is acceptable to wear your PJ’s all day.
Both of these hold massive weight. Firstly, free is free and nothing can compete with this. This is the biggest barrier for our prospective residents. They can’t afford the coworking space yet and home is, well, FREE. Secondly, whilst wearing your PJ’s all day may sound appealing from the monotonous routine of getting dressed every morning, it does lose its charm after a while.
Doing a full day of PJ wearing so that bedtime comes around and you are already ready, can have you questioning your life decisions. There is also the factor of not having to go anywhere which is most appealing. However, I believe the quote goes, “Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” What makes you appreciate a place more is leaving.
As the year has rolled on, the most common things I hear are:
“I just get no work done at home, I am too distracted all the time.”
“My kids are not compliant when it comes to playing ‘be quiet’ all day.”
“It’s not as good as it sounds, working from home.”
“I need a space that is for work, not for play” (although here at Inspire9, we do both.)
What I have realised over the last year is that even if you do the minimum in a coworking space, you gain. By minimum I mean come in, grab a desk, put your earphones on and spend the day working with your eyes on the screen.
While Inspire9 offers Lunch and Learns, Pot Luck Lunches, Friday Night Drinks, Meet Ups and a whole range of other events. Even if you don’t partake in any of these offerings, I think you will still gain something. And this is why: Purpose.
Purpose is super important for humans. I think getting up in the morning with purpose and direction is what life is about. I don’t necessarily mean 9 to 5, Monday to Friday in the grind everyday, but too much idleness can be a bad thing. A dedicated environment like a coworking space provides an ecosystem for that purpose.
Moreover, home should also have a purpose: to chill. Home should feel safe, cosy, relaxed–a sanctuary away from the outside world that will wrap you up and not judge you for watching 14 hours straight of Netflix.
Interlocking these two spaces may confuse ‘productive’ mode and ‘chilling out’ mode. There is no denying that home can sometimes lend to the flicking through Netflix, chatting with friends on the phone, raiding the fridge, or retiring to bed at 2pm. If you can resist the above while working from home, I salute you.
I also think interaction is pivotal for humans. Even those who agree hands down with the Seinfeld quote, “people are the worst,” will enjoy the occasional chat in the communal kitchen. Alone time and silence are priceless but “too much of a good thing won’t be good for long,” and in this case, can make a person stir crazy. The wonderful thing about a coworking space is you have the choice to pop your earphones in and remain isolated or come out of your turtle shell and engage.
Lastly, if you do end up saying ‘hi’ to that guy or girl in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless. You may make a new friend. You may find out that the bug you’ve been trying to fix in your website development can be solved by your newfound friend. You may find that you both love plants and take away a Facebook page that sells plants dirt cheap. The possibilities are endless. And all it takes is a ‘hi’ while you grab a cup of coffee (another perk of coworking spaces–endless supply of FREE coffee and tea).
So there you go. Coming from a born skeptic, the appeal and gain of a coworking space has won me over and I no longer question the benefits. The writing’s on the wall.
This article was originally published on Inspire9 Medium.com