Essential things to add to your coworking office list
As a freelance writer, I know the benefit of retiring. However, while retreats are great for getting some new scenery and doing some in-depth work, there are times when an extra dose of alone time isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. Sometimes I crave being around like-minded people and a sense of collaboration that comes from working in a shared space.
Working from home has many benefits, including convenience and flexibility, but it can also get lonely. Research shows that long-term remote work increases social vulnerability and makes two in ten workers feel lonely.
The fix? I suggest in-person coworking sprints. Knowing that getting out of the house for face-to-face collaboration could make all the difference, I recently joined a friend for a few days of work at Hoxton, a coworking space in Chicago where I live.
Here’s what I learned from the coworking experience. I’ll share the benefits I discovered, along with some tips to consider when choosing a co-working space for yourself.
Beat the remote work blues
As a freelance writer, I work independently. The lack of interruptions keeps me very efficient, but it can also be quite isolating.
I’m not the only one feeling this either. Although technology makes communication easier, 64% of freelancers report feeling lonely on a daily basis. While we can join industry-specific Slack groups or chat with our friends and colleagues on Zoom, nothing can replace face-to-face interaction.
This is exactly why I decided to look for a coworking space and meet a freelance colleague for a few days of working remotely in a busy, people-filled setting.
Benefits of coworking spaces
For professionals who work remotely, coworking spaces offer many advantages. With 1.08 million workers working in these spaces in the United States, it’s clear that today’s remote workforce benefits.
My friend and I accomplished a lot during our time in the coworking space in Chicago. This increased productivity is not new. In fact, 74% of people feel more productive when working in a coworking environment. There are several factors that contribute to doing more work, among others, here are some of them.
- Change can make you happier. Recently published research shows that a change of scenery and routine can be uplifting. If you feel like your work-at-home days are melting into one endless mass, consider changing up your workspace for a few days. If that’s more of a motivation: Researchers have found that a happy worker is a more productive worker.
- You can explore new environments and meet new people to find new ideas. Coworking spaces can inspire creativity. Changing locations means meeting people from diverse backgrounds and seeing things you’ll never see back home. You can draw inspiration from these interactions and access insights that you might not have received from your own professional network. It’s a good idea to socialize between work sprints, which can help relieve stress. Personally, I like to be around people, so it’s an extra dose of motivation for me.
- It becomes easier to hold yourself accountable. Taking a short break at a coffee shop in the middle of the day can be a nice change of pace, but working in one (or a restaurant) presents some challenges. These establishments tend to be noisy and overwhelming, so it’s almost impossible to do anything. It doesn’t help that most people are chatting while they’re there. If we had decided to work in a café, I’m sure we would have done the same. In a coworking space, on the other hand, everyone works. On top of that, the atmosphere itself is conducive to getting things done.
- Routine tasks are no longer a problem. Mundane tasks take up your time when you work from home. You have to remember to replenish printer paper and toner, make coffee, and pack lunchtime snacks. None of these concerns were my concern when working in a co-working space. Working From offered free snacks and drinks, so I didn’t have to make them myself and could focus more on my work.
- Well-designed spaces breed satisfaction. I love my home office, but coworking spaces offer a different work environment. Working From is elegant, spacious and well maintained. An organized and clean workspace can make everyone feel more productive and efficient. A 2017 study shows that employees report higher levels of job satisfaction when measured cleanliness is better. Therefore, higher productivity results from higher satisfaction. When you have a clean, beautiful workspace, you can devote more energy to completing projects as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Besides increased productivity, coworking spaces allow you to network with professionals from other niches. Eighty-six percent of people report expanding their personal networks simply by joining co-working spaces. Developing your professional network is key to successful freelance business. In fact, I get most of my gigs through referrals.
What to look for in a coworking space
Coworking spaces are springing up everywhere: they are expected to exceed 40,000 by 2024. My friend and I did some research before finding the right one. If you’re considering joining one, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Location. Choosing a nearby coworking space makes it easier to get around. But besides the distance, you also need to check the nearby area. For example, The Hoxton was in a prime location. In our case, we were in a great walkable area and there were lots of great restaurants on site (so we could grab a quick lunch with ease). I’m also a big fan of Barnfox locations for retirement-style coworking trips, or SoHo House for taking meetings and video calls if I need a fancier backdrop.
- Approvals. For maximum productivity, the coworking space you choose should offer everything you need. Coworking spaces vary in amenities, and some may require additional fees. In our experience, we had easy access to printers, high-speed Wi-Fi, and plenty of charging ports.
- Facilities. Each coworking space is uniquely designed. Beyond aesthetics, practicality should be your priority. We knew our space should have a community kitchen, meeting spaces, shared spaces, and booths to take calls. Having dedicated quiet spaces allowed me to take calls without the noise of shared spaces.
- Additional Benefits. In addition to working in an environment that allows you to concentrate, it is equally important to choose a coworking space that meets all your needs. The gym, terraces and free drinks are often part of the package. Be sure to check them out before committing. In our case, we have access to a yoga studio at The Hoxton and other hotel facilities, so I stretched a few times after spending hours in front of a computer.
- Cost. Consider the membership fee if you plan to use the coworking space frequently. In my case, a day pass was just $30 and included access to two floors of beautifully designed workspaces.
Visiting a coworking space is a perfect way to break the monotony of working from home. This new type of collaborative environment can provide the right mix of benefits for your workdays.
Kaleigh Moore is a writer and consultant for companies in the SaaS industry.