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The Benefits of Co-Working
If you miss being part of a team and find working from home lonely at times, co-working could be just what you need.
What is Co-Working?
In general terms, co-working is when people gather in a neutral space to work independently on different projects, or in groups on the same projects. Unlike a traditional office, people in a co-working environment don’t tend to work for the same company.
Official co-working spaces tend to have the same amenities as a traditional office such as Wi-Fi, printers and a conference room. Some offer additional resources such as business coaching or tech you may not usually have access to. Others are very basic, offering little more than a desk and the Wi-Fi code! Open workspaces and hot desks (desks used by different people at different times on an ad hoc basis) are synonymous with co-working, but many have private workspaces and dedicated desks too.
Co-working can also be as simple as taking your laptop to your local library or meeting a colleague at a café. You can even host or attend co-working sessions online via Zoom.
The Benefits of Co-Working
If you miss being part of a team and find working from home lonely at times, co-working could be just what you need. Personally, I’m a big fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home office, but I find an occasional change of scene gives me a real boost.
Many people who use official co-working spaces report increased motivation and productivity. These spaces also provide networking and collaboration opportunities. Alongside this, meeting new people and exposing yourself to different perspectives can feed your creativity. On a practical level, co-working spaces tend to offer cost-efficiency and greater flexibility than renting an office on a more long-term basis.
Even a casual co-working arrangement can be beneficial for your business. Arranging to work alongside others, either online or in-person, can provide the accountability needed to make progress or complete tasks.
The Potential Downsides
As co-working spaces are often open plan, some people feel they lack privacy. Popular spaces can also be busy with lots of people coming and going throughout the day. If you’re easily distracted or prefer a more peaceful working environment, this may not be the best option.
Co-Mentoring and Accountability Buddies
If you’re relatively happy working alone, but often wish you had a colleague you could bounce ideas off, or a line manager to hold you accountable, you might want to consider co-mentoring.
‘Rather than looking ‘above’ or ‘outside’ your immediate network to find a mentor, co-mentoring is about establishing mutually beneficial learning relationships with colleagues and friends. For Charlie and me, co-mentoring has seen us supporting one another, facilitating development, and exchanging knowledge and resources. The process is reciprocal and equal, there’s no hierarchy based on experience or perceived success. It’s also friendly, informal, and often fuelled by tea and cake! Most importantly, our meetings are a safe space in which to share the highs and lows of freelance life.’ – Franky Shanahan, 5 Things I’ve Gained from Co-Mentoring.
If you’re already leaning towards a casual co-working arrangement with a colleague or friend, why not ask them to give co-mentoring a go? Once a month, try sharing what you’ve been working on, what’s going well and what isn’t. You can also share your goals for the month ahead and commit to keeping each other on track.
If You Do One Thing This Week
Ask yourself whether co-working could work for you. Investigate local options and decide whether you’d prefer something more casual (like meeting a colleague at a café) or renting a desk in a proper co-working space.
Photo credit: Images by Stories by Chloe with thanks to Jess at The Co-Working Club. Head to her website to find out more about the fabulous co-working space, opportunities and events Jess has created or check out her instagram.