The Low-Down on Coworking

Coworking – the idea that independent professionals work better in a shared office environment. Basically, as an independent creative professional, you can purchase shared office space for a low monthly cost in a coworking facility. For some this is the solution to at-home productivity lapses. For others, not so much.

If you run a freelance design business out of your home, you may be familiar with coworking or may know others who rent these spaces. As such, you may be debating whether coworking is a viable option for you. Here’s the low-down on coworking and some factors to consider before joining the coworking trend:

  • Consider the cost – Coworking comes with a cost, typically in the form of monthly rent. This rent can get you a cubicle-like space, free internet, bathrooms and possibly the use of a break room. If you originally began working from home to save more money, the addition of coworking rent to your monthly expenses may not be the wisest option. However, if you regularly work at coffee shops, spending money on expensive mochas, the low rent of a coworking space may save you more money.
  • Assess the Environment – Not all coworking spaces will be conducive to your creative personality. While most are themed to aid in relaxation and ignite creativity, some may go a little overboard. Additionally, if you prefer absolute quiet while working but notice that others in the coworking space are chatting with clients all day, this setup simply isn’t going to work. By closely monitoring the possible working environment of a coworking space, you’ll more wisely spend money on a suitable space or bypass the expense altogether.
  • Monitor your habits – Some people work best in solitary environments while others crave human interaction. If you regularly work in coffee shops or similar environments, thriving on the constant buzz of activity, coworking could be a great fit. However, if your best work is produced at a home office in complete silence with the blinds drawn, you should already understand that coworking isn’t for you.

If you decide to give coworking a try, don’t enter the situation expecting this to be the place to network with other local designers. While some coworking space owners advocate these as places to connect with others, in most situations, it’s simply a place to go each day, work in a solitary cubicle, and leave. Don’t assume that others renting space in the same facility want to waste precious working hours chatting with people they don’t know. While you may find the opposite to be true in the space you rent, it’s important to not have unrealistic expectations.

While some designers aren’t cut-out for the isolation of home-based employment, others thrive in such an environment. By monitoring when you’re the most productive and how you feel when working in different environments, you’ll more accurately determine whether coworking is the solution for you. While a coworking space may or may not be a great place to meet other local design professionals and expand your network, there may be other ways to expand your network that won’t cost you monthly rent charges.

Do you currently cowork or have thoughts on this growing trend?

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