Many of us are fortunate to be able to work from home, but it's not always a bed of roses. It can be hard to separate work from home life, resulting in working more hours than you would in an office. Having a spot in a coworking facility can provide the benefits of both working at home and going to an office each day.
Coworking spaces are often centrally located, and usually have a large communal area for people to work. They typically have good web connectivity and other amenities to make working long hours more comfortable. They are designed to maximize available space without have those sharing it on top of one another.
Many such institutions also rent private offices, but this article is about coworking spaces. There are advantages to working in them as opposed to working in a private office or at home.
One of the pitfalls of working at home is the isolation that comes with it. While it can be peaceful and quiet in the home office, doing so for too long limits exposure to the outside world. There are no long-term benefits to being cut off from everyone.
Regular interaction with friends and colleagues is healthy and working with others in a coworking space is a great way to do it. This stimulates the creative process and can lead to a higher level of productivity.
The stimulation is due to the different types of people you can run into in a coworking space. You may find some in the same line of work, giving you a springboard to test ideas. Even if no one in your profession is around, you are bound to meet interesting people which rarely happens if you stay cooped up in the home office.
A professional image
Many home workers are self-employed and should be concerned about the image they project to clients and associates. Using a home address for the business doesn't look very professional, and many coworking facilities allow members to use the firm's address for their business. This puts up a good front for your company -- which may just be you -- and can better set the tone of interactions with clients and others.
Many spaces provide access to business services, especially the use of conference rooms. It presents a much better image to bring an associate to a coworking facility for a business meeting than to have them drop by your house.
A regular routine
Some home workers have a hard time establishing a regular work routine. After years of keeping a rigid schedule when working in an office, the freedom from that schedule can lead to irregular hours.
This is where coworking spaces really shine. Members can head to work just like in a "real" office if they desire, even if for just a few hours. The important thing is to have some level of routine, which helps some home workers feel more professional.
Coworking facilities usually have a high level of security for the premises. This often extends to online connectivity, which is important for your business.
Offices usually have better security equipment and services than most homes. Since coworking spaces typically allow 24/7 access to the premises, this offers welcome peace of mind should you need to work late. Having worked in a home office for over 10 years, I have never felt as safe as I do in the coworking facility.
Professional work environment
Even if you've set up a good home office, chances are working in a true office environment will be a positive influence. It may just be a mental thing, but working in such a place feels more like a stable situation. While some coworking spaces can be busy with all the people around, being in an office setting can still help put you in a productive frame of mind.
Many facilities have coffee bars, providing an opportunity to step away from work and converse with others. It's the water cooler effect found in offices, and a good way to meet interesting people while taking a break.
How to choose a coworking space
In major cities finding a good coworking facility is not difficult. A quick search online should turn up several. Choose one or two not too far from home to minimize commuting, then visit each one. It's important to see first-hand the amenities offered by each, and to choose one that you feel would be a comfortable environment.
Some places offer daily rates for a coworking space, while others prefer a monthly arrangement. Before committing to a long-term rental, see if they'll let you try it for a day or two for a nominal fee.
Coworking is not for everyone but before writing it off it is worth trying to see how you like it.
Where I work
I've worked in a few coworking places over the years, and recently started working in one regularly. I'm in Houston, and those looking for a coworking space downtown can check out the facility where I rent a space. It is the Level facility on Main St. in the heart of downtown. It's a new office with good amenities and a great working environment. I have 24/7 access and the people here are good to be around.
Level offers private offices but I rent a coworking space which is more to my liking. They allow me use of a private office from time to time when I need it, and five hours of conference room time per month. The entire facility has the fastest connectivity I've ever experienced (100Mbps up and down) which is important for my work.
With Level I get a prestigious Main St. address for my business with a receptionist during office hours. They handle my business mail which is included in the monthly rental. The cool thing is it's just three blocks from my apartment. Well, that and it has beer on tap in the kitchen.