Despite the worldwide surge of coworking spaces, the misconception remains that coworking spaces are for “digital nomad” types only. Nomadic entrepreneurs and freelancers have certainly helped popularize the coworking lifestyle; however, nomads tend to get extra recognition in any arena they touch these days.
If you consider yourself a digital nomad or remote worker, you’ve almost certainly experienced coworking spaces for yourself, since they’re fairly essential to the lifestyle. But what if you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer based exclusively in one place? Coworking spaces are absolutely for you too.
Coworking spaces are meant to bring together all types of professionals, regardless of their work mobility or preference for a traveling lifestyle. If you’re serious about entrepreneurship and see value in working alongside like-minded individuals, you’re in the perfect position to get out of your home or rented office and get into a coworking space right where you are. And you probably won’t look back.
The Coworking Space: A Natural Evolution
More than ever before, the professional world has opened up to the advantages of lateral rather than vertical career progress. To freelancers and entrepreneurs, the corporate ladder has never been a desirable gateway to success. While vertical growth often emphasizes authoritarian job titles and corner offices, lateral growth is about gaining and implementing knowledge across different roles within an organization or project. Entrepreneurs like to be be able to generate their own solutions in their endeavors, and therefore appreciate being around others who can help them grow or challenge their skills.
This is just the kind of environment a coworking space cultivates. Unlike traditional office spaces, a coworking space encourages networking, collaborative work, and creative problem-solving. You can gain new knowledge from community skill-sharing that you may be able to implement within your existing work right away. Interacting with people from various industries also increases exposure to other products and service possibilities.
The Advantages for Freelancers
For an individual freelancer or solopreneur, a coworking space provide several advantages over your standard home workspace or cafe – and fast internet is only the first of many.
Connection. It’s little discussed but undeniably true – working independently can be utterly isolating. And the murmur of your neighborhood cafe won’t be very satisfying if you’re not actually connecting with anyone.
Sharing a workspace makes a huge impact on feelings of loneliness and isolation, not only because you have more opportunities to network and collaborate with other driven people. The coworking spaces of today actually function as communities that socialize as often as they work. Many spaces hold mixers, seminars, and even off-site activities to help sustain the community environment.
Time Management. Separating home life from work life also fosters better time management. If you’ve ever tried working from home, you know that relaxation and work time start to become indistinguishable. It’s all too easy to slip into idleness. Take a break on the couch, and before you know it, you’re three episodes deep in the new season of Game of Thrones. But if you transition into a coworking space, you can maintain a healthy separation and enjoy the comforts of home with much more ease.
Amenities. These days, there are so many coworking spaces vying for the same clients, that they have to complete somehow. In order to charm prospective members, coworking spaces offer a whole array of amenities. An open floor plan, flexible desk seating, lounge spaces, and a clean, modern aesthetic are givens for most spaces today. Many spaces stay open late into the evening, and some even stay open 24/7 for their night owls.
It’s fairly standard for coworking spaces to offer printing and copy services to their members at little or no charge. Many spaces also have designated conference rooms for members to rent by the hour, which are great for meeting with existing and potential clients. A number of coworking spaces also have a coffee machine and kitchen, or even a full cafe.
Networking. Establishing a network of friends, potential clients, and mentors alone is impossible. But at a coworking space, you’re surrounded by potential clients who may very well be looking for your service. And plenty of your fellow members have the business experience to make great mentors. It’s just a matter of connecting with the people around you.
Exposure to Innovative Thinking. Coworking spaces are hotbeds for breakthrough ideas and innovative solutions across industries. There’s just no substitute for working next to talented, ambitious people who are always sharing strategies, tools, and new methods for greater success. Even if you don’t collaborate with others on physical work, opening up to collaboration of ideas can enable your productivity to flourish.
Cost-Efficiency. When it comes to membership, you’ll be pleased to find that coworking spaces offer flexible commitments. You can even pay by the day if you’d like. However, there are discounted monthly packages for those who are willing to commit to the space a couple days a week, and more so for those who plan to come in every day.
If you’re building a startup and see yourself acquiring a team in the near future, coworking spaces are great for saving on overhead. This will also allow you to allocate funds where they’ll be most needed in your business. And the month-to-month, non-binding rent tends to be much more appealing than committing to an office space long-term.
Validation. Daily interaction with other freelancers and solopreneurs does wonders for personal validation. It’s a huge boost in confidence to share a workspace with those who have made a similar career move, and share in their little wins and frustrations. You become a part of a community whose sheer existence helps keep its members focussed and determined. It’s a beautiful symbiosis.
At the end of the day, any coworking space’s greatest assets are its members. It’s the people you’ll meet across the table or over the coffee machine who will teach, support, challenge, and inspire you to crystallize your vision of success and strive harder.
A Note on Competition
It’s not uncommon for freelancers to shy away from coworking spaces to avoid a competitive atmosphere. While some spaces may tend to attract more assertive, self-promoting types, they are not places you have to worry about proving your talents or justifying your participation in the community.
If your space caters to a freelancers in your particular industry, you may get the chance to participate in small community contests, like a coding hackathon or logo design challenge. These are merely meant to stir some healthy creativity, activate fresh ideas, and open you up to pivoting in a direction you may never have considered.
Transitioning into a Coworking Space
The rise of coworking has created a true revolution in the lifestyles of entrepreneurs and freelancers everywhere. With technological advancements in communication, cloud computing, and consumerization, those formerly confined to offices can now embrace mobility. Coworking spaces stand in stark contrast to traditional offices not only because encourage this mobility, but because they nourish ingenuity rather than stifle. They create the freedom integral to a gratifying work life.
Finding your own work-life balance as a freelancer can make an enormous impact on your satisfaction, productivity, and long-term success. So if you haven’t already, pop in to a local coworking space and see what it’s like to think, work, and create outside the box. It could be your best venture yet.