What is Coworking?

An Alternative to Working From Home

Trendy man working in startup office
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Coworking has taken off in the last few years as an alternative to working from home or at your own office. It offers flexibility, networking opportunities, and, for some, productivity benefits. Let's take a look at what coworking is and whether you might benefit from it. 

Whatiscoworking.com offers a simple, straightforward definition of coworking:

“coworking” or “co-working,” with a lower-case ‘c’, is a generic word that’s generally used to describe any situation in which two or more people are working in the same place together, but not for the same company.

Instead of working remotely in separate offices or places, independent professionals, telecommuters, and others who have the ability to work from anywhere share one working environment. This can be on an occasional basis or for regular full-time work hours, depending on your preferences.

Coworking Spaces

A coworking space is often a cafe-like collaboration space, but it could also be an office-like setting or even someone's home or loft. The main idea is that individual workers come together in a shared place to enjoy greater productivity and a sense of community.

The Benefits of Coworking

While working on your own has many advantages, it also has downsides like sometimes making you feel isolated. The Coworking Wiki says:

Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces agree to uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of coworking is the creative environment and the sense of community from like-minded professionals. As someone who's worked from home for over a dozen years, I definitely sometimes feel like I'm missing out on the camaraderie others experience when they have a regular office to go to and coworkers to bond with--even from simple acts like greeting each other at the start of the day or sharing a coffee break.

A coworking space would offer these benefits while allowing me to still maintain my freelancing freedom. It also would get me out of the house and all its distractions.

People who tend to work best alongside others (e.g., extroverts) might especially appreciate coworking.

Another benefit of coworking is the potential for networking. The people that you meet at a coworking space could be looking for your kind of work and/or they could be great resources down the road.

Finally, many coworking spaces offer amenities like kitchens stocked with snacks and beverages, high-speed internet, printers, meeting rooms, and even couches and other places to take a comfortable break. As opposed to using Starbucks as your office, you're better set up at a coworking space for productivity.

Costs and Downsides of Coworking

The biggest downside to coworking is it's not free. Still, it's cheaper than renting your own office.

Another downside of coworking is you might have the same kinds of distractions as you would when working at an office: Interruptions from others, noise, and less privacy. I'm the type of person who gets too distracted by others to work at my best, so coworking is only something I do when things at home are too noisy and distracting (such as during home renovations).

Before you commit to coworking, consider your personality and work style.

If you want to give it a try, check out websites like ShareDesk and  WeWork.