Being a freelance designer is great, isn’t it? You can set your own hours, pick your own projects, (in theory anyway,) and best of all, you’re not working to make somebody else rich. I love the freedom that running my own business provides me. But with that freedom can often come a feeling of isolation, as working from home is very much the norm for freelancers. But working for yourself doesn’t have to mean working by yourself. Thanks to the relatively new trend of co-working spaces that have been cropping up in larger cities across the globe, you can have the best of both worlds: Freedom, as well as a sense of community.
Here are some the advantages to joining a shared office space:
Feel more productive
If you’re like me, it can be hard motivating yourself to get to work when in your personal space. Its very easy to put off work when the T.V. is right there. Now your dog has made it clear that he’s not going anywhere until he wins at least one game of tug-of-war. Then you think that those dirty dishes aren’t going to do themselves. You see the point. Working from home can offer too many distractions, and with nobody to keep you on task, sometimes the less responsible option wins out.
Working in a shared office space can connect you with other professionals that you may not have met otherwise. You may be sharing an office with someone who could become your next client, or at least connect you with one. I happen to be a big believer in doing what you do best and connecting with others who can help you fill in your blind spots. For instance, I am a web designer who doesn’t code. So I am all about teaming up with talented developers that I can bring in to help with client website designs. Co-working spaces have the potential to be a networking goldmine for making these types of business connections. And the best part is, you don’t have to go too far out of your way to meet them.
When I ask most ex 9-to5ers what they miss most about the corporate world, they usually bring up the social interaction that working in an office provides. My last corporate job was a nightmare but at least I loved the people I worked with. A little social interaction can go a long way toward making your whole day more productive, or at least more interesting. The people who use co-working spaces definitely trend to the creative side, and it is always nice to talk shop with fellow creatives. And remember, your co-working neighbors also made the decision to work there, so they will most likely be as into the social interaction as you are. Who knows, you may meet some great friends. Happy hour anyone?
Fresh Eyes/ Group problem solving
Being in a creative field, it is so important for us to be able to bounce ideas off of each other during the creative process. Some have turned to sites like dribbble in order to get a fresh set of virtual eyes on their work, but there is no substitute for real human collaboration. A design always benefits from a critical eye, and it can be difficult to judge your own work objectively. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to brainstorm with fellow creatives in real time? Even your non-creative neighbors could come in handy when you have a problem that’s not in your wheelhouse, but may be in theirs.
Professional meeting space
Co-working spaces usually offer an additional benefit to the standard work stations – meeting rooms. This can be huge if you regularly meet with clients or potential clients. The Starbucks meet-up is ok, but you will look much more professional if you can invite clients into a more businesslike setting. They will feel more comfortable, since they are probably used to doing business in an office, not a coffee shop.
Most co-working facilities are surprisingly affordable. Pricing plans vary from office to office, but most offer several options. You can choose to only come in on certain days of the week, a set number of visits per month, or you can spring for a full-time dedicated desk with unlimited office access. For some, getting out of their home and into an office a day or two a week would be sufficient. Others who really thrive in a more energetic environment may choose to come in every day.
Working in isolation isn’t for everyone. If you feel that you do your best work in an upbeat, energetic environment, then working in a shared office environment may be the best solution. Have you tried working in a shared office? Please take a moment and share your experience in the comments below.