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Summary:

Anyone who web works from home knows that the flip side to all of that comfort and freedom is the sense of isolation that can overcome you from time to time. There are a couple of ways to get out and find other people. Some workers […]

Anyone who web works from home knows that the flip side to all of that comfort and freedom is the sense of isolation that can overcome you from time to time.

There are a couple of ways to get out and find other people. Some workers congregate in locations that offer WiFi, like cafes. Unfortunately, where I live, there aren’t a lot of options like that. Pretty much the only places to go are a single small Starbucks and a McDonald’s.

Another option in some areas is coworking. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Imran has provided a good primer of WebWorkerDaily’s articles on coworking.

The concept of coworking spaces has always appealed to me, but at the same time left me conflicted. The thought of a nice big and well-equipped space with other people around sounds very inspiring. But then I think “Why would I pay for someplace to work when I have a perfectly good place to work at home? Isn’t avoiding hauling myself to an office part of the reason I like my job in the first place?” Although it does sound nice to be around other professional people semi-regularly, it’s always seemed like it would be an expensive luxury that my budget could do without.

Until now coworking hasn’t actually been an option in my town, anyway, so I didn’t have to make a real choice about it. But for the month of January, a local office rental space is holding a “coworking open house” on Thursday afternoons in its lounge (which are perhaps a little like the Jelly casual cowoking events that Simon has written about previously). Renting a solo office space doesn’t interest me since I can sit and work alone at home. But the coworking open houses finally gave me a chance to find out if coworking was for me or not.

After spending two afternoons at Office Divvy’s lounge with my laptop, I have decided that I like coworking and think that it could have a useful place in my work life. But not, it turned out, for the reasons that I originally imagined.

My coworking experiment definitely was a good social experience. I enjoyed talking about my work with people and learning about what they are doing. To be in a professional environment and being treated like a professional by other professionals was a nice change from being at home in my sweats being rudely interrupted by home security system salesmen.

What I didn’t expect, especially in a small group and with my work being so specialized in the scrapbook industry, was that I actually made helpful business contacts via the people I met. I got the name of an attorney recommended to help me with some business contracts, and met some other people that may be business resources in the future. I had a lengthy conversation with someone knowledgeable about the local scrapbook business scene. And I even got a lead on someone interested in having me do some copywriting work.

I definitely hope to have the opportunity to cowork regularly in the future. I think it would be good for my mental health — and for my business.

Have you tried coworking? How did it work out for you?

By Nancy Nally

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  1. I find coworking to be extremely appealing, alas it seems to only function well in cities large enough to support a vibrant freelance/designer community. I firmly believe that good design requires frequent outside opinion and alternate viewpoints and coworking really helps freelancers in that regard. Your point about exchange of business also seems very valid, essentially a localized word of mouth incubator.

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  2. I set up a coworking location in a smaller (80,000 or so) commuter town. Interestingly, I have ZERO commuters here, but, 5 small business owners are now members (and interest from more than several more).

    Although, I am not yet breaking even, I will keep going based on the current membership and growing interest. Maybe, someday, a commuter will join! :-)

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    1. That sounds like the description of my town – same size and mostly a commuter town. I’m actually surprised at how many freelancers I’m starting to find out are hiding out in their homes through going to local tweet-ups and things like this coworking open house. Even on days that I am at home, it’s making me feel less like I’m living (and working) on an island.

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    2. I am in the process of setting up a coworking space in illinois’ 2nd largest city 100k + what kind of rates do you charge and how do you market the space?

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      1. I charge $150 a month, unlimited access. For marketing, I’ve tried a lot of expensive alternatives with no luck. One of our members runs http://TracyIslandOnline.com so I advertise there, Twitter, Facebook,Craigslist, and now, word of mouth.

        Free is good :-)

        Lots of folks come by to see it, but, few return. Coworking, in my opinion, is something one needs to experience to appreciate. Out here, the “office” mentality definitely rules.

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  3. If I ever decided to freelance full-time again, I would definitely check into the coworking office we have here in the KC Metro. The building is in a cool part of the city and it’s pretty affordable.

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  4. Benjamin Allen Myers Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    I cowork in Los Angeles at WHERE meet mix mogul. They offered me to come and cowork for one week to see if it was a fit and I have to say it was/is. My production level has increased immensely, I’ve met some amazing people that have helped me grow not just professionally but personally as well. I never realized how isolated I really was until I got out of the house and came to WHERE. If you think you’ve got it all at home think again and give coworking a shot.

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  5. Great blog. I am in process of creating a community based co working location focused on providing services targeted at bloggers and entreprenuers. Ideally we’ll have video editting rooms, tech library, workshops for building/working on gadgets. I too work from home and have become so stir crazy.

    I’ve cut hours off my learning curve on several things from social media to legal stuff. Thanks for the blogging.

    Marty ; chicago

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  6. I tried coworking in my city but it never worked out due to the coworking location closing right after I left my day job. Unless it’s open 24-hours I’m not sure it would work for a side business.

    I’ve since quit my day job. Perhaps I’ll look into it again. I really loved the idea and the people.

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  7. Totally agree from a coworking center in Barcelona
    Thank’s for the post
    Cristina
    @crismartine

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  8. I would love to create a co-working environment in my town, which is one of the primary reasons I blog about it. I think that telecommuting can be a real benefit to small towns if they know how to tap into it. In my town, and I think this is probably true in most places, there is quite a bit of office space available which is otherwise vacant. Some downtown development organizations are more than willing to get workers into those spaces in order to revitalize downtown businesses. I think it is a great urbanizer in that sense.

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  9. [...]        0 After experimenting with coworking for a short time, I wrote about how I had gone from being skeptical about it to a convert. The connections I made, and the lack of interruptions, were enough to overcome my resistance to [...]

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