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.
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.