I can’t remember the first time I heard of or even saw a co-working space. The best I can remember the year was 2007 and I was working for a tech startup company and we were leasing 2 desks, a phone line, a mailbox, and a shelf in the fridge from a medical supply company in Fremont, California. I wasn’t really sure what the arrangement truly was since I was only working for the company and not running the company. But I remember talking to someone from the “other” company one day and getting a recommendation for perhaps the best Mexican cantina I’ve ever eat at. It was very cool. Here I was an independent contractor for the most part getting the benefits of a corporate environment along with the freedom of an entrepreneur. Little did I know I was not the only one taking advantage of this sort of situation. In fact, “the concept of co-working is credited to a software engineer named Brad Neuberg who in 2005 paid $300/month to rent space from a feminist collective in San Francisco. He used card tables as desks, and then put a notice on Craigslist inviting others to work alongside him at their respective professional goals. His goal is said to have been to find freedom and independence of working for himself along with the structure and community of working with others.” 1
There are conflicting reports claiming nearly 1,000 co-working spaces across the United States to as many as 4,000 co-working spaces. The majority of the spaces are in urban or otherwise metropolitan areas and help small businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups find a suitable space where they can focus and enjoy the perks of a larger office space. Coupled with the growing number of business people who need to be mobile to some degree as well as as independent contractors who choose a more nomadic life the trend has grown faster than anyone initially predicted. Companies like:
- Oficio in Boston
- Link Coworking in Austin
- Workbar in Boston
- The Coop in Chicago
- Miami Shared in Miami
offer monthly rates (or memberships), the use of a conference room, high-speed Internet, hip decor, and even game rooms. But how can a co-working space benefit the life of a tiny houser or nomad?
According to Global Workplace Analytics some 25 million Americans telecommuted in 2012 alone. This is in addition to the 2.6% of American workers who consider their home their primary workplace. 2 With those sort of numbers it is becoming a corporate tend to work at home to some degree. However, when your home is less than 300 sq.ft. or your home is in a different location each week it can be incredibly difficult to maintain a work/life balance. For those situation co-working can be the answer. The following 3 tips will help you – a tiny housers – determine how co-working can help you professionally.
Working from home has its own set of unique problems. When you have to show up at a set time at a set office location it is much more difficult to procrastinate your workday by instead walking the dog a few extra minutes, going grocery shopping before the afternoon/evening crowds, going to the gym for a morning yoga class, etc. It is also perceived as unprofessional to arrive at the office in your pajamas. So by working in a co-work space you regain that sense of professional accountability which can help you succeed professionally.
By sharing a space with other professionals you can again develop both professional and personal relationships that can help you do everything from locating a reliable babysitter for your toddler to getting tips on the discounts at your local office supply store. There is still much to be said for face-to-face contact and a good ‘ol fashioned handshake.
Sometimes keeping your mind sharp, your ideas fresh, and your work creative can be exceedingly difficult when you have only yourself to consult. In a co-working space though you can oftentimes turn to your cubie neighbor or your newfound friends from down the conference table. They can offer a second or third opinion, help inspire you, or even solve seemingly impossible situations for you.
Have you participate in a co-working environment? What was your experience? Would you do it again?