Times are changing in the world we live in today. With the COVID-19 crisis on-hand, many industries are shifting to remote operations. From virtual apartment tours in real estate, to work from home operations, things are shifting to a full-on digital experience. That said, as we move forward and many huge offices close their doors, the concept of coworking will become even more popular.
The term coworking in the current vernacular was first coined in 1995 by Bernie DeKoven to describe a working environment where individuals do not necessarily work for the same company. The model provides individuals or groups with shared workspaces or offices.
The owner of a coworking space usually offers various amenities that are found in a typical office setting like copiers, ultra-high-speed internet service, professionally maintained bathrooms, and waste disposal services, and quick access to mail; some sites have shared and staffed reception areas.
Who Are Coworkers?
The people who use coworking spaces are generally self-employed telecommuters or freelance workers. Often a large corporation will rent coworking space for project employees that do not have brick and mortar offices. The benefits provided by a coworking space can draw a variety of people who may not be able to afford, or may not want, the responsibility of maintaining their own offices.
Benefits of Coworking
Self-motivated people do not need an office manager to note what time they arrive at work each day, or when they leave. Coworking spaces allow those who are self-employed or are remote workers to come and go at will. Anyone who works remotely could simply stay home and work but there are disadvantages to that and a coworking space could be a good solution.
When working at home, you wake up, make coffee, check emails, do a load of laundry, take the dog for a walk, answer emails, your mom calls, you remember that you need a few things at the store, you write up a proposal, change the laundry, wonder if you need to change out of your pajamas, etc. and so the day goes. This type of day severely decreases your productivity.
Working from your kitchen table may sound great—hey, no travel time—but there can be too many distractions when you work from home. Aside from non-work-related interruptions, there is the issue of loneliness and the sense of isolation associated with working alone from home. A coworking space affords a sense of community and increases productivity; there is no laundry to fold there.
Using a coworking spot allows you to fully separate home and work life, which is much healthier for you. It reduces the stress and burnout that can occur when doing both housework and regular work at the same time. Coworking also affords one the opportunity to network with other professionals that rent space at the same location as you.
Amenities of a Coworking Space
You can get work done without traditional office expenses like utilities, secretarial support, and assorted vendors like plant services, and you’ll be able to avoid property taxes, too. If most of your work is done from your computer, or you move locations frequently, a coworking space can allow you the flexibility to work outside of your home without the obligations associated with real estate.
Most owners of coworking spaces understand that a large percentage of the workforce is nomadic, and that number increases yearly. You can rent a chair at a community table or a suite of private offices and avail yourself of the amenities provided. Potential perks at coworking facilities range from concierge-style office support, fitness equipment, grab n’ go beverage and snack services, conference and meeting rooms, and kitchens.
Before You Rent
Depending upon the city you plan to work in, you may have to visit a few coworking sites to find the place that serves your needs best. Check the reviews of the management company–if the printer needs new toner and there is no one available to change it for a week this may not be the spot for you–and make appointments to visit the site during regular business hours.
Talk to people that are currently renting space at the location to get a better sense of the atmosphere during working hours. Ascertain whether the situation is conducive to your work style. If space consists of rows of tables with chairs how are phone calls handled, are there quiet rooms for people who must be on the phone throughout the workday?
Finally, check the lease thoroughly before you sign. Many coworking sites offer month to month leases but just like an apartment rental, there may be fees for not giving enough notice that you will be vacating. This is the time to ask about bike and/or vehicle parking options and whether there is storage space for coats, umbrellas, and computer bags.
Shared workspaces offer many perks to the remote worker. Besides the snacks and sociability factors, it is easy to change your location. If you find that you need more privacy, coworking spots are available with closed offices. If you need to be physically closer to your customers all that needs to be done is find a different building in another part of town. Should you need to travel to an altogether different city or a different country, shared workspaces are available in most countries around the world.
The fact that most coworking spaces offer rentals for durations as little as a day, week, or month gives you the flexibility to arrange meetings in cities where you don’t live. This allows you to maintain the professionalism needed to court customers or engage with company partners in other locations. Lawyers, designers, engineers, and consultants often need meeting places outside of their main offices and coworking sites can provide clean, well maintained temporary locations with the office equipment often necessary to close a deal or to embark on a new partnership.
Bonus Tip: If you don’t own an office building, you won’t ever need to worry about reading landlord guides to work in collaboration with any tenants. At coworking, life is made simple by the owner.
If you have decided to try coworking and you have found a great facility in a nice location, make sure that you respect others around you. Two universal coworking rules are:
- Don’t be the person that puts smelly food in the microwave!
- Don’t try to sell your product or service to others unless they approach you first.
While working at home may not be best for you, coworking can be a great alternative–just make sure that you are a good fit for your new location.
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