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?