One of the most enjoyable aspects of the freelancer’s life is the ability to work from anywhere, and increasing numbers are finding personal fulfillment and business success thanks to the rise of co-working.
Sure, for many of us, non-virtual tasks are big parts of what we do, from networking and lining up clients to making service calls on location and performing work with our hands. For others, full-on digital nomadery is within reach, as robust incoming project pipelines and fully virtual fulfillment make it easy to do business from anywhere with a reasonably dependable wireless internet connection.
Many freelancers prefer to work from home, enjoying the benefits of doing so but also contending with the pitfalls of not having an office. While some swear by it, others need guidance on how to endure the scrutiny that home offices can lead to.
Beyond the Office
That’s not to say that every freelancer would be better off maintaining an office of his or her own. Depending on where you’re located, that could represent major expenses and other commitments, and it sure isn’t aligned with romantic ideals of laptops and hammocks.
Local cafés likewise have their disadvantages. Despite the studies supporting the idea that the ambient background sounds of espresso being made can boost productivity, not every coffee shop likes hosting web workers who don’t order much – and besides, background noise is never guaranteed to remain ambient.
Three Killer Benefits of Co-Working
The happy medium is, of course, co-working, whereby freelancers, startups and other early-stage small businesses can rent office facilities on an on-demand basis.
Co-working is arguably one of the most exciting trends in the world of freelancing, as it allows for flexible real estate commitments along with the buzzing vibes and door-opening opportunities afforded by being surrounded with people who are also interested in being their own bosses.
Here are three decisive advantages to co-working hubs for freelancers.
- Stability Balanced with Flexibility
As a freelancer, flexibility, spontaneity and sporadic bursts of activity are probably big parts of the way you work. You likely choose unconventional hours (within reason) to blast through task lists, and you thrive on not being bound to arriving at your employer’s office at any specific time.
But that flexibility often serves you best when balanced with your own internally imposed structures. When you provide yourself with a co-working hub as a place to work, instead of the kitchen table, for example, you are likely to see increased productivity because of the opportunity for focus that it offers you.
You can come and go as you please, but you enjoy the advantages of a dedicated space for executing your projects. You get to associate home with leisure and a separate facility with your career. And you only have to pay when you use it. Co-working spaces often offer bill according to daily, weekly and monthly rates – whatever works best for you – while networks of co-working hubs offer branch locations around the world, so you can hop from one to the next as you like. That’s about as flexible as anyone could ever want.
- The Perks of an Office for Far Less
With co-working, you can get up and “go to work,” but without paying anywhere near as much for that privilege as you would with a proper lease. Sure, having your company’s name on the door might be nice, but does that benefit really outweigh the costs?
Because you share the expenses for services with your revolving door of co-workers – a pohotocopier, administrative support, snail mail logistics, wireless internet access, utilities, printing and let’s not forget access to a coffee machine – the symbolic fees you may incur are extremely modest when compared to the cost of maintaining your own office.
As a bootstrapping freelancer, you likely want to keep your costs down (who doesn’t?), and the shared opportunities of co-working facilitate that beautifully.
- Buzzing Community
When you work in proximity with like-minded people, even though you are not working together on the same projects, you develop a community. At the very least, you may see each other on arrival and departure, get up for a drink of water at the same time and so on. But what begins as a head-nod of acknowledgement extends to pleasantries, and eventually real interaction and all the benefits of community at large.
That includes camaraderie, of course, but also networking potential. You may even end up working together – on the same project, that is – down the road. Freelancing can be lonely, and discussing the associated challenges with peers can be a major help. Moral support, action item brainstorms, fulfilling mentorships, client referrals and networks of alliances can all come out of this level of cross-pollination.
Shared Spaces for Gig-Driven Economics
For a rapidly growing number of people, co-working hubs are the way of the future. As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to jump on board now and reap the benefits of mixing your need for autonomy and agility with the focus that comes with stability and the opportunity for collegial interactivity.