On a Thursday in the middle of this summer, I was laid off. Taken by surprise and needing to make some opportunities develop immediately, I adopted a policy of “audacious coworking” to get me back on my feet.
Audacious coworking is the practice of activating your network while getting work (a lot of it) done. It’s staying on the radar while moving the needle every day—building rapport, demonstrating your drive, delivering on promises, and expanding your circle-of-reference. By mindfully and boldly leveraging the benefits of coworking, entrepreneurs and job seekers alike can create new opportunities, develop value and supercharge their efforts.
Optimized environments = amplified work
Loggers don’t work in the city, and high-divers don’t practice on a basketball court. Your environment should match your task. Boldly orchestrate your day to take advantage of that early morning creativity. Grab a call on a quiet patio at Elevator Coffee & Commons. Then move to an activated, bustling space when it’s time to inspire creative daydreams with an old pal. You control the deliverables. It’s time to control the way there. Support your best work by picking the environment that matches and nurtures the brain space you need to be productive.
Freedom from the 9–5 desk allows you to optimize your workday around your strengths, your clients or your passions. I used tools like Workfrom to help me build balance, structure, and camaraderie into my days—finding amazing spaces and communities along the way.
The real power in the room
Traditional business has a lot to learn from the leveled playing field of coworking spaces. There’s no hierarchy or management at the coffee counter. The real power in the room is an organic and personal cross-pollination of ideas. It only happens when founders work next to freelancers and next to traveling researchers and next to that unexpected ally at just the right time.
In five weeks of audacious coworking, I set meetings, shared meals, leaned across coffee tables and was blown away by the talent and passion wherever I chose to work from.
In the kitchen, I met a lawyer who left larger firms to pursue her passion helping entrepreneurs and artists. She reminded me to work purpose.
On a patio, I had sun tea with a serial founder researching her next iteration. She brought dogs and tough questions about my work.
From the eleventh floor of a corporate tower, a coworking innovator showed me how he was transforming user feedback into an empowered, growing community.
The WordPress guru invited me to class at the startup gym. She gave small business owners tools to save time, money, and worry. She showed me a path.
The national brand strategist shared cappuccinos and battle stories about the same troubles the solopreneurs were facing.
The avid mentor slurped ramen while he described building his company around opportunities for junior developers.
The virtual reality team let me take calls from their stoop and inspired me with the raw power of sharing real, human stories.
Coworking opens up the possibility that you’ll connect with that startup founder at Filmore, or that a random whiteboard session at NXT Industries: The Lab will give you the clarity you need to make your next step confidently. Don’t be a creep and don’t be disruptive, but find ways to connect to and add value to these spaces. You’d be a fool not to engage with your Workfrom community—there’s money being made behind those bagels.
Overcome imposter syndrome and find clarity
Freelancers and job seekers battle feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome—those nagging worries, ”Am I really prepared to be doing this?” Without normalized channels to give and receive immediate feedback or social cues about how things are going, it’s easy to feel off-balance, unsure. The common advice “this worry is a good thing, it signals you’re engaged and learning” falls flat to those wishing they just had a little more context or direction.
In my search, I boldly asked for coffee with founders I admire, chatted up product managers across the table, and worked from agencies with excellent views. One thing became extremely clear—we all grapple with the hard work of doing good work.
Stop wondering if you match a someone’s expectations—start setting your own. Use the light networking that happens at Cup and Bar and in the kitchen at Ned Space as dozens of informal interviews. Listening to your neighbor’s pains and testing your elevator pitch gives you the perspective you need to find balance and confidence in your position. The feedback you get from your colleagues will help you align your work with your passions and craft your journey into an asset for others.
A path through the desert
Forty audacious days later, I did it. All those kitchen conversations and coffee dates helped me understand my offer: I’m a storyteller who is driven to solve real-people problems. This clarity helped me find a dream role at Mambo Media where we “empower people & teams to thrive in tomorrow’s business environment.” I wouldn’t be at the office today, had I not spent my summer coworking like a boss.
While the initial allure of freelance, remote or co-work is the freedom to work when and where you want, the challenges are the true drivers of a coworker’s productivity.
Today’s workplace requires independence, project accountability, and collaboration. Remote workers can thrive in this environment by turning the challenges of remote work into the drivers of their productivity. Optimize your space to match your work and stay keenly focused on making the most of your efforts. Bring value to every encounter and always listen for new opportunities. With these tools in your kit, you can flip the employment conversation from begging for a chance to walking in the door offering the amazing talent opportunity you are.