One of the biggest myths about freelancers, entrepreneurs and sole traders is that they prefer to work alone. Yet it is more often the autonomy and flexibility of self-employment that attracts them, rather than a 'lone wolf' mentality. The inherent isolation of working from home can in fact become a burden on productivity, creativity and even wellbeing over time, fuelling the increasing popularity of coworking spaces worldwide.
Cost & Flexibility
Making that first step out of the home office and into a commercial space can be expensive. The upfront costs of bond, deposit, fit-out and furnishing can be a barrier to making that move, not to mention the hefty ongoing monthly rent. Coworking spaces, on the other hand, are a much more affordable option as the fees generally include all of your running costs such as wifi, printing, electricity, cleaning, heating/cooling, office supplies etc and are already completely fitted out - you just bring your laptop!
The terms are usually much more flexible as well. Rather than being locked in to a 12-month lease with sizeable bond, coworking spaces often offer membership agreements with no joining fee or fixed term contract.
Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace has been a major focus of late. The 2019 Workplace Loneliness report by global HR thinktank Reventure found that 40 per cent of Australian workers feel lonely at work; one of the contributing factors being the advance in technology enabling us to work from home and disconnect from human interaction. Another factor is the increasingly transactional nature of work i.e. the 'gig economy.'
Being in a shared work environment where you can have a coffee and a chat, or bounce an idea off someone, can make a big difference to your mental health.
A 2015 survey of coworking members by Small Business Labs and GCUC found that coworking spaces are human spaces, dismantling loneliness and creating communities of happier, healthier, more productive, more connected professionals. The survey found that:
• 89% reported they are happier
• 83% reported they are less lonely
• 78% reported that coworking helps keep them sane
Collaboration, mentoring & networking
Coworking spaces provide access to a variety of professionals; a great resource for collaborations, referrals and leads. There are often networking events and workshops to attend at the venue, and plenty of opportunity to connect with people you would never normally connect with.
But beyond that, simply working alongside others has been proven to spark motivation and inspiration as coworking spaces seem to cultivate a sense of productivity, community and cohesion.
The Small Business Labs survey also found that:
• 84% people in coworking spaces feel more engaged and motivated
• 82% said coworking has expanded their professional networks
• 80% said they turn to other coworking members for help or guidance
• 69% reported they learned new or improved existing skills
• 87% report they meet other members for social reasons
Separation of work life from home life is near impossible when working from home. And when those lines are blurred it can be extremely difficult to 'switch off' and truly relax in your downtime, leading to higher than normal levels of stress and anxiety.
Being at home also offers plenty of distractions - family members, pets, TV and the lure of the fridge and pantry are common. And let's not forget what it's like trying to work in a messy environment with household chores like laundry and dishes looming over you.
Coworking spaces offer a neat and tidy, structured work life where you feel more accountable and 100% of your time is maximised for work tasks.
Location & Facilities
Coworking spaces are usually centrally located with all of the amenities and facilities you need on hand or nearby. They offer a quiet, professional environment in which to meet clients so that you don't have to give out your personal home address or meet in a noisy cafe, and are generally much easier for your clients to navigate to.
Just like a serviced office, the coworking facilities mean you only need bring your laptop - everything else you need to run your business is at your fingertips and generally included in the fee.
If you're unsure whether a coworking space is the right solution for you, most offer a free trial. And remember, not all coworking spaces will be the right fit for you. All offer unique atmospheres, environments and membership options so it's a good idea to test a few out before making a decision.