By Shannon Hennig
As a creative or entrepreneur you likely spend a lot of time with your nose to the grindstone (or laptop!) day in and day out. You may be using your kitchen table, sofa or a favorite seat at a local coffee shop as your office while you start your venture, or it could be that you’ve always been a team of one and have no need for office space.
Saving money on rent by not having a physical presence makes a lot of sense, especially if you don’t need it. With that said, there may come a day where you’ll need space to meet a client one on one or host a large meeting. While there are options that you can use in one off scenarios, it’s worth considering what your long term plans are for growth, and how you might be able to accommodate these down the road.
Co-working spaces are becoming an increasingly popular solution where space and budget are at a premium. They’re popping up in cities both big and small as a viable alternative to assuming high rent costs and all the associated headaches that can come along with signing a lease.
If you have a small team you can rent an office or two, or if you’re after just a desk and chair these are offered as well. Many offer month to month arrangements that don’t lock you in, or in some cases you’ll find drop-in passes where you can swing by once or twice a week, and use the space when you need to leave the house. You’ll get access to shared conference rooms that can be booked in advance, along with private telephone booths and small meeting spaces.
In addition to giving you space to work, you can also take advantage of shared kitchen space, printers and photocopiers, wifi and some even boast coffee bars. While co-working spaces offer an immediate solution to your space needs, they also offer a lot of benefits for you both professionally and personally that can have a huge upside for your small business.
The social isolation of working from home can be both a help and a hindrance to producing your best work. Sometimes you need quiet space free from interruption to focus and turn out high quality deliverables. Other days you may feel like hanging out in your pajamas while you go on a content writing sprint. This is part of the beauty of work from home arrangements.
While being alone is great, too much time spent by yourself can hold you back. You may find that you’re lacking motivation to stick to a routine every day, and are still in your sweats without having brushed your teeth when your kids come home from school, having accomplished nothing. A few days like these are fine, but when they become a habit they can have an impact on your productivity and bottom line.
Co-working spaces afford you the luxury of getting out of the house, away from your kitchen table, and provide a dedicated space where you have all the physical amenities you need to succeed. You’ll be able to actually talk to another person — which sounds ridiculous — but if you’ve been alone and staring at your home office wall for weeks on end, this is an alluring prospect.
Don’t discount the necessity of relationships and social capital for the success of your business and your own mental health. You need human connection in order to thrive — and stepping out of your house and going to a dedicated space where everyone else is in the same boat can be life changing. Often our biggest problems in work and life are solved by talking through them with a peer or colleague. Co-working spaces make this possible without tying you down to a specific work space or work team.
Networking And Business Development
You’ll be sharing space with a wide variety of people from multiple sectors that all contribute to the culture of your co-working space. You can quickly connect with people in your field, but also network with others that you might never have considered as valuable connections or had access to otherwise.
Sharing your triumphs and challenges with others is a vital part of ongoing learning and development. It could be that you share a desk across from a computer programmer or sit beside a social media whiz. They may be able to offer you insight from an entirely different perspective that changes how you approach a problem or sparks an entirely new creative process.
Co-working spaces house businesses and entrepreneurs that are at every stage of the business life cycle, so you’ll find yourself surrounded by expertise that you can soak up and incorporate into your own efforts. Mentoring opportunities, formal and informal learning opportunities, and access to different networks in your community are just a few more of the upsides to co-working.
Events, Activities And Balance
As much as entrepreneurial and startup culture glorifies 18 hour days and ‘the hustle’, this mindset and approach to business isn’t sustainable. It leads to burn out, anxiety, depression and ultimately, failure. It’s important to set boundaries and carve out time for self care, but this can be difficult when you’re working from home and you have no reason to go past the front door.
Most co-working spaces offer a host of daily, weekly and monthly events and activities held at various times that will get you away from your desk. Drop in yoga classes, collaborative coffee breaks, networking lunches, and coordinated drinks after closing time are mainstays in many offices and enhance the culture of the workspace.
Lunch and learn opportunities, tickets to live events, coordinated office sports teams, and seasonal celebrations are all offered — and come without the guilt and obligation of having to attend for fear of what it will do to your annual performance review.