So you’ve done it. After years of working in the cube farm under coma-inducing fluorescent lights, you’ve finally convinced your employer to let you work from home. Or perhaps you’ve landed that full-time remote gig you’ve been craving. No more grinding commutes in rush hour traffic or colleagues tapping you on the shoulder when you’ve just hit your stride.
But something’s not quite right—despite enjoying your freedom from the many distractions of the workplace, you’re lonely working from home. You’re having fond memories of the chit chat around the water cooler. You may even miss the business development guy in the next cube over whose loud calls with prospects drowned out your thoughts; he did at least tell a few good jokes once in awhile.
It’s time to get out of the house and feel the buzz of being around other people, but you know that your local coffee shop is just too noisy for you to get your work done. You’ve heard about coworking spaces. Perhaps you’ve even heard about a new one opening in your part of town.
You’re intrigued, but concerned you’ll simply be revisiting some of the pitfalls of the office environment you worked so hard to escape. Here’s why you may want to give a coworking space a try.
Free to be yourself
You can be a completely different person—yourself—in a coworking environment.
According to this article from The Harvard Business Review, coworking spaces provide an atmosphere that enables you to bring your “whole self” to work in a way that just isn’t possible in a traditional office setting. You’re free from some of the internal politics and pressures of the workplace. You can express yourself more through your choice of clothes than you’re likely able to at the office.
There’s also a distinct cultural difference between a coworking space and a co-located office setting. In coworking spaces, competition takes a back seat to collaboration. There’s even a code of conduct that establishes an environment where it’s common to help each other out—and a plethora of chances to do just that. The sheer variety of disciplines represented in coworking spaces means there are ample opportunities to both learn from and help people with very different perspectives than your own.
The value of a diverse community
When you work with the same group of people every day, you may start to approach problems predictably. You’ll meet an entirely different community at a coworking space— people with far more diverse backgrounds, interests, and sets of experience from which to draw.
As Lisa Shulman Malul of the Action Alliance for Children puts it in a Deskmag article: “In any field, you can get used to talking about your issues or the things that you cover within a narrow spectrum. The idea of interacting with [different audiences] on an ongoing basis [gives] us opportunities to hear more about how other people understand our work.”
Coworking spaces provide you with an opportunity to work alongside people outside your organization and industry. Being a part of this community can help you generate new ideas and come up with innovative answers to your challenges. The person next to you may be the founder of an apparel startup with useful tips on social media strategies that you can apply productively to a marketing campaign you’re creating. The tech entrepreneur you encounter when you refill your coffee may have some pointers on how your company can close their Series B funding. And the graphic designer at the end of the communal table could just be the freelance resource you’ve been seeking for months.
As Scott E. Page put it in his influential book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies,” bringing unlike minds together can result in some powerful solutions. When you come from different places, have different business concerns, and don’t eat at the same places for lunch every day you naturally bring a different perspective to the table. Coworking spaces can facilitate an exchange of ideas that too often doesn’t happen in a traditional workplace.
It’s hard not to want to achieve more when you’re surrounded by motivated people who find a great deal of meaning in their work. The mix of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other remote workers you’ll find at a typical coworking space creates an energy that can inspire you to do your best work.
So if you find that working from home is too isolating for your tastes, give coworking a try—and use Workfrom to find a great coworking space near you. You’ll find it’s a totally different experience than the office you were so happy to leave behind.
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Have you tried coworking recently? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet @Workfrom using #untethered.
I just recently joined a coworking space in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I love it! I was feeling so lonely working from home. Some days I would have to force myself to go out for a walk just so I could leave and get outside for a bit. I’m pretty new to this whole digital nomad lifestyle so I still have a lot to learn about myself. I find that the process of going to a place to get work done switches my brain into work mode. When I’m at home, I suddenly notice how dirty everything is as soon as I sit down to work. People think I love to clean when the fact is that I’m too easily distracted!
Many thanks for sharing your coworking experience, Rachel! I can totally relate when it comes to cleaning (and laundry) as a distraction from work.