One of the very real attractions to working from home is the fact that, in theory at least, you don’t have to a) get dressed, b) brush your hair or c) leave your bed. We say in theory because after about day three of this regime it begins, like you, to become a little stale and soon becomes apparent that even the most bohemian of creative solopreneurs need something approaching a routine to both inspire and lead to the actual production of work.
But once you’ve shifted your bed-office down to your living room, what then? How conducive is it to a healthy work/life balance to live in your working space or work in your living space? The answer, truthfully, is not very. While it can be done and to some success, there requires a great deal of discipline to make it work and not just because you can so easily get distracted by a pile of dishes or some day time TV, if anything it’s the opposite problem.
How, at the end of a busy day when your brain is still firing fabulous ideas at you and you just want to squeeze out that final piece of writing or create that last design, do you really switch off and flip from work you to home you? After all, all you’ve really done is shut down your laptop. The four walls are the same, the cat staring reproachfully at you for supper is still the same, the work pressures are still the same. And that’s why nine times out of ten unless you have the iron will of a warrior, you should opt for working outside of your home as much as possible.
There are other advantages too, not least the fact that as a lone worker you are just that, alone. That creeping feeling of isolation though calm and reassuringly quiet at first can soon give away to feelings of loneliness and a sense of floating in the stratosphere, not seen or heard of for days by any living being (except the cat). It becomes unnerving and you will, without the shadow of a doubt, start feeling a pang towards a little company, even if that’s just to order a soy latte from a smiling barista.
While the tangible, measurable advantages of working in a shared or creative space might seem fairly obvious, there are other factors that can come into play. If you decide to ditch the idea of working from home or making your cappuccino last for hours in your local café, then considering a shared office coworking space can offer you surprising benefits and be well worth investing a little bit of time in researching.
Firstly, you’ll be in an environment that is totally centred and designed around giving you the maximum creative output, even more than your comfy sofa at home. Is this even important? Absolutely. Study after study shows that a workspace that is created around maximising worker comfort and productivity will see creativity flourish and help your mind focus on the job in hand. When you know that you have everything you need at your fingertips in a space that is geared entirely around your needs, you can’t help but let some of that positive ambience filter through into your working day.
A great space will also allow your coworking colleagues access to break out rooms and rest areas as well as desk space where you can get that intense hour of deadline-driven work done with zero interruptions. You won’t be worrying about your Wi-Fi giving out on you but instead, reap the benefits of business grade access and IT that are supported on site.
Having a thoughtful, well-designed space in which a great variety of industries can thrive offers a sort of entrepreneurial fellowship, a sense that you’re in it together while also allowing yourself space and privacy when needed. A place to retreat to and spend time thinking, planning and creating is a boon to any lone worker but particularly if you’re a relatively new start-up in need of a little extra support.
And with the right space, as your business grows so your coworking office should adapt around you, offering you more room, access to shared telephony and so on.
And the cons
Naturally, you might feel there are some downsides to working in a shared space and there can be drawbacks. These tend to fall into two categories: badly designed, laid out and supported spaces and annoying coworkers.
The former hindrance is unacceptable. When you pay good money for the privilege of setting up shop in a creative space the least you can expect is a degree of privacy, a solid Wi-Fi connection and access to printing without long queues or the possibility of tripping over other’s furniture. If any of this looks like even a possibility in a space you’ve seen, run for the hills or just to your nearest café.
Clashing with co sharers is slightly tougher to deal with but as a co-worker, you have no obligation or contracts to your office space so pack up and leave if it all becomes too much. What seasoned workers would recommend is looking for space with similar start-ups to your own. If you’re a tech enthusiast, look for those in the same industry, the same for designers and writers. All of which have their own ways of working and will understand your need for absolute silence one minute and frantically dashing off a hundred words a minute the next after coffee-fuelled inspiration strikes.
Get the right space and those days of huddling under a blanket to get work done, afraid of wracking up that heating bill, are long gone. When you’re offering a professional service, back yourself and start building your empire not from your front room, but a creative space that allows you to breathe, grow and achieve.