Five advantages of coworking for freelancers
I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.
Last year I tried out coworking at Lewes Werks on a couple of occasions and, even though I did not do this as often as I would have liked, I plan to do more of this in 2010. I have been thinking about this for a few days so I thought I would write down a few of the advantages of coworking (as I see it, from a newbie’s perspective).
Firstly, what is coworking? You may have read about it before but here’s the Wikipedia definition
Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.
Basically, this means working in a shared or open office with a group of other freelancers. The others might be remote workers who normally work from a home office or they could be coworking aficionados. Either way, here are five advantages of coworking for freelancers.
New ideas come from breaking out of your comfort zone
The opportunity to work across a desk from someone with a different skill set can provide a source of new ideas. Equally, I often find that a new working environment causes my brain to work slightly differently (perhaps it’s just me) and in these situations I have come up with new ideas for existing problems. Either way, more ideas can only be beneficial if you are working for yourself.
Meeting, collaborating, and making friends
Yes, yes. We all know that we should be doing more ‘networking’, or meeting new people as I like to call it, but many of us don’t do this as much as we could. Well, coworking can give you the impetus to do more and promote yourself and your business. And make a few new friends while you are at it?! Equally, coworking can easily lead to new business collaborations.
… you get a sense of their honesty, background and profession
People tend to do work with people they trust. It’s a hard and often risky process to hire someone you don’t really know. By getting to know other people first you get a sense of their honesty, background and profession. When the time comes that you do need their skills then it is really easy and stress free to make a decision. Or another situation may be that you refer some work to your coworker. It’s a two-way thing. Others help you. You help others.
Put effort into relationships and in time your business can easily grow. That’s how it generally works, not overnight because real relationships don’t work like that.
Get away from clients to work on your own projects
I work from home but I confess that this is not always so great when you have to keep answering the telephone. Often I need to devote a few hours to something without interruptions and clients sometimes ring at the most inconvenient moments don’t they?! Getting out of your normal (home?) office into a new place can be a great way of isolating yourself from this. I hope to use coworking to do more work on my own projects/websites. Of course, my clients can still email or call my mobile (cell) phone if they really want!
Avoid home office loneliness
Working from a home office has several advantages, for example the rent is low, you can create your own workspace, and it gives you the flexibility to stop and start work when you want. In contrast, some people find that working from home is a lonely, solitary environment. Coworking is a great way to alleviate the loneliness that can sometimes arise from home working.
Coworking can be great for your budget
If you are a freelancer with your own office outside of the home, you will be paying an office rent that will often be a significant part of your budget. If you do not need to rent an office yourself, why not consider coworking? Most coworking spaces will charge for using their facilities but this will often be less than commercial rent because the costs are shared.
If you can find a coworking space near you, why not try it out? I think you might find it beneficial for the reasons above.
Credit: Thanks to Rosie Sherry for her expert contribution to this post.