Coworking: Is It For You?

Note from Princess: Ok guys, I goofed when I originally posted this one and forgot to change the author setting to David Sumner. HE wrote this as a guest post and this is his experience with coworking spaces. I’m sorry for the confusion and I hope it’s not too late to give David the credit he deserves for writing it.

Coworking spaces are all the rage in the freelancing scene. From Los Angeles to Berlin, freelancers of all shapes and sizes are getting out of the home office and relocating their freelancing to open-plan, relaxed-style office spaces where enthusiastic and creative freelancers can collaborate together on projects, hold workshops and even hire out rooms for meetings with important clients. However, these coworking spaces are not for everybody and of course, many professionals opt for a life of freelancing in order to work from home and be closer to their loved ones, which spending 9-5 in a coworking space would obviously not facilitate. So exactly what are the benefits and drawbacks of coworking spaces?



Coworking spaces in a nutshell.

Coworking spaces are essentially office spaces which are open to freelancers to utilize in their daily work. The spaces are not owned by any one company in particular, and any freelancer is able to book the use of the services and facilities offered by these spaces. The first coworking spaces sprung up in the States, but the concept has evolved into broad coworking communities; where freelancers can share ideas and assist each other both in the coworking space or online.


The good…

Increasing your professionalism. Coworking spaces typically offer a range of services and equipment that many freelancers operating on a tight budget (who doesn’t?) would not be able to afford on a regular basis. Take office space for example, presenting a professional face to your freelancing operations is absolutely vital in convincing potential clients of your experience and capabilities to undertake their project. If the project is large enough then Skype conference calls and emails will not be enough to land the job, this is where coworking spaces come in. Freelancers can hire the use of meeting spaces in order to hold presentations and negotiations over a project and this beats coffee shops and front living rooms hands down.

The financial benefits. Hiring the use of a coworking space on a temporary basis will suit both your professional and financial needs, and saves the costs involved in operating a permanent office space. Moreover, even the little things such as paying for a fast internet-speed and professional computer software for the home may be beyond the financial reach for a graduate freelancer coming straight out of university. Thus, taking advantage of the facilities at a coworking space can form the perfect platform for your first steps into freelancing.

Easier collaboration with others. Coworking spaces were formed on the principle of sociability. By working with other freelancers in the field on a daily basis, the exchange of ideas and assistance is made easy like never before. Coworking spaces also serve as great social networking hunting grounds and what better way to deliver professional results to your clients than by working with other creative and committed individuals? Moreover, those blocks on your creativity that we all suffer from time to time will be reduced by the constant interaction with others.


The not so good…

The 9-5 mission creep.

You ask any freelancer about their decision to jump into the world of freelancing and one of the responses you hear time and time again was the need to kill the 9-5 attitude to work. Flexibility in your working schedule is one of the most desirable advantages of a freelancer’s life so you must learn to take advantage of the benefits of coworking spaces on a flexible basis that works to your timetable. The idea is not to rely on the features offered by these spaces all of the time, but to make use of meeting spaces and professional equipment. Do not treat the coworking space as your old office space and certainly do not treat your time there as “going to work” – otherwise this will stunt your creativity and make you dread the commute there.

Peace and quiet. In my experience, whilst coworking spaces can be fun, creative spaces within which to work, they cannot be characterized as being quiet, peaceful places to work. Every coworking space is different and unique, however the young demographic of the members usually leads to music being played and of course a frank exchange of ideas can always lead to heated discussions, libraries these coworking spaces are certainly not. If you are struggling to meet a deadline for a client then it is far more advisable to work from home.

The support of your loved ones. Many freelancers, especially those with young families, choose to work from home in order to balance the care of looking after young children with their partners. Plus, in times of need – when there is an avalanche of client enquiries and unforeseen problems and delays on a project, the support from loved ones can prove a crucial factor in keeping you sane. Of course, if you are working in a coworking space then this close contact with your nearest and dearest will be difficult to ensure.

Have you experienced working in a coworking space, and did you find them to be creative and energetic environments or did they mess with your freelancing karma?

Photo Credit:khawkins04

David Sumner

David Sumner is a writer living in Berlin who is amazed by the possibilities that coworking spaces can offer to the adventurous and curious freelancer. Twago is Europe’s leading online platform for freelancing connecting freelancers to customers in the fields of programming, web design, graphic design, copywriting and translation.

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7 Comments

  1. I have not tried these, and can’t see me doing it. Yes, I am one of those people who cannot stand the thought of being back in any kind of office setting-even one with a much more relaxed atmosphere. I think I’ve fallen into the I’m too old for that category. :-)
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Posts in Friday Lite Review

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  2. Count me with Cathy. The idea of being in an office environment gives me hives. Funny thing is, by nature I’m an extrovert not an introvert, so you’d probably think I’d want to be in a social setting. I can relate to how people like the hustle, bustle and creative interaction. But to me, the power of peace and quiet trumps all of the possible positives.

    I prefer my social interaction in non-office formats: meeting a friend or client for lunch or coffee each week, serving on a volunteer committee for a local event, and playing in a weekly golf league.
    Jake P recently posted..Are freelancers unique?

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  3. I tried a really nice co-working space that has worked for several of my friends, but they have other needs. The spaces can be expensive and definitely noisy. Sometimes they seem like one big water cooler. I decided this style of space isn’t compatible with a writing career. I need a lot of silence and can’t afford the high rent for one of the offices with a door. It was fun for a while and I’m glad I tried it on a trial basis.
    Claire Wagner recently posted..[the rich are different]

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  4. I like the idea of a coworking space and I’ve used some coworking groups effectively. But I just don’t have the type of business where I need a meeting room. When I absolutely need a face-to-face meeting (something I’m doing more of) I usually just go to their place. And I’ve had good success meeting up over a coffee at a neutral coffee shop.

    I have to say that my favorite “gotta get out of the house but still need to work” place is still the NYPL. All the resources I need, bright clean work areas and free.
    Princess Jones recently posted..A Salesperson Behind a Typewriter

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  5. Really good article, and the pros and cons are done well.

    The co-working idea appeals to part of me (I sometimes miss interacting with my co-worker friends in an office setting), but the “mission creep” and lack of quietness would get to me after awhile.
    Mahesh Raj Mohan recently posted..Your Favorite Music

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  6. I do work out of a co-working space (SharedSpace in Portland), and I think it is the only reason I can still work. I don’t suffer from 9-5 creep, I suffer from “match the socks” creep, and “walk the dog” creep. I’ll do just about anything other than work when I’m home, so having a dedicated space to go definitely makes it easier to get focused. I don’t always work here- there are still plenty of hours at home and coffee shops, but I like having this option. It does help that it’s mostly creatives here who also value flexibility and quite, oh and that it’s well under market value for desk rentals (don’t tell the landlord!).

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  7. Thanks Princess for allowing me to share my thoughts on coworking with your readers. I really found that these spaces are great places to siclaize, make contacts amongst other freelancers and really fire up the creativity drive by getting out of the house. I’m glad to hear that coworking spaces around the world are just as beneficial as the ones here in Berlin ;)

    Reply

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