Do you work from home and find yourself missing the motivation that comes from working around other motivated people? The energy that comes from in-person collaboration?
A co-working space can be a great solution. I tried one out and you should too.
On days I feel the need to break out of my home office routine I usually work from my neighborhood coffee shop. I had occasionally thought about finding somewhere more professional to work from on those days.
When I accepted my contract position and started to work from home one of the logistics I had to navigate was that my husband already worked from home.
I like to tease that we converted his office space into a co-working space. All joking aside that’s pretty much what happened.
It’s nice to be able to talk with my husband during the day about challenging work assignments or to be able to make last minute decisions on who’s doing preschool pick up. But it’s not so great for conference calls or when one of us wants to watch TV or play music in the office area on a day the other needs quiet.
Through this balancing act I discovered that I loved to work from our back porch. We can each be on conference calls – on speaker phones – at the same time with no problem.
Then my next door neighbor started construction on a pool and pool house. Think jackhammer and construction sounds. All day.
As much as I love working from my neighborhood coffee shop the project I was working on required a more structured work environment and the ability to take calls.
It was time for me to find a temporary real co-working space that wasn’t going to break the budget.
What is a Co-working Space?
What we know today as co-working was started in San Francisco in 2005, to give freelancers more structure then a coffee shop and to provide opportunity to create community that can’t be achieved by working from home.
There are a number of different options when comes to finding a co-working space.
There are office buildings full of amenities including state of the art conference rooms. There are simple open office layouts with just internet, printers/copiers, hot coffee and a couple of quiet rooms for phone calls and everything in between.
Some co-working spaces encourage collaboration and interaction through speaker series and entrepreneur support activities. Others are focused on providing executive suites and are intended as quiet formal office spaces.
A number of co-working spaces and executive suite companies have membership that can be used in multiple cities and countries. These programs are great for people who travel and need short term office space and/or conference rooms at different locations around the country or world.
Finding a Co-Work Space
I live in a medium size college town so I wasn’t sure what my options were going to be.
I made a quick list of what I was looking for in a temporary work space.
I knew I needed somewhere that had a daily drop in rate or a reasonably priced monthly option, a casual dress code and rooms designated for taking calls. Printers would be a plus but not critical for the work I was doing.
There was an executive suite membership building downtown, your community might have one of those too, but their formal business setting required more of a financial commitment then I was looking for.
It turns out that my options were limited. As in I could only find one other option.
The Co-Work Space industry is growing. There may be multiple options where you live.
Luckily, the one Co-Work space in my city met my list of needs AND they offer free drop in days once a week. They are also an entrepreneur incubator.
What is Inside a Co-Work Space?
You might be wondering what its like inside a Co-Work space. Many that I have seen are similar.
Drop in space tends to be an open work space in the center of the room with offices and phone call rooms around the edges.
The Co-Work space I’m a member of has long communal tables for desks. The room is setup for collaboration. The is also a lobby with sofas, a coffee lounge and a ping pong table.
During my first visit, a few women introduced themselves to me when I arrived and I immediately understood the collaborative nature of the space.
There were freelancers, small business owners, and college students all working along side each other on their own diverse projects lending their feedback and perspective when needed. Even though the room was quiet there was a buzz of energy.
My local Co-Work space is also an entrepreneur incubator so they offer weekly lunch and learns, happy hours and programs to help entrepreneurs start and scale successful business.
One unexpected and great surprise was how much better the internet connection was at the co-work space then at my house. Graphics took a fraction of the time to work on.
I am so glad my neighbor decided to build a pool. Sometimes it takes a little push to try new things and this was a great find. I am sure I would not likely meet most of the people at the co-working space during any of my regular professional activities and that’s the great benefit of this type of space.
I encourage you to seek out the co-working spaces in your community. Even If your budget only allows you a day pass once a month give yourself the gift of working along side people who may provide you the energy, guidance or camaraderie to make that next big step forward in your business.
If you aren’t sure where the co-working spaces are in your community I found the website www.coworker.com helpful in my search.
And if you are curious to learn more about the culture associated with co-working spaces and why their popularity is growing you can check out the Harvard Business Review’s article Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces.
Have you tried a co-working space? What was your experience like? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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