A lot of people are getting into coworking in a big way, the team at WebWorkerDaily included. It’s a very nice idea, and a welcome escape from the solitude of working from home, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone wants to go out and join what effectively amounts to an office environment, having just escaped from one.
If you want to try out the coworking experience, but would rather get just get your feet wet than completely take the plunge, two might be the magic number. Find another person to work with and you might eliminate some of the isolation of the web worker lifestyle, but it won’t resemble the office job you might have felt trapped by. But who you work with, and how you work together, make all the difference when it comes to a coworking partnership.
The first step, obviously, is finding someone willing to put with your quirks and actually work with you. Even if you have many willing partners, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Once upon a time, you couldn’t pick your co-workers, but now that you can, the obvious choices might not be the best.
For instance, your drinking buddy is probably not the right choice. As you might guess, the working can fall by the wayside when there’s an excess of camaraderie involved. It’s a little like choosing a roommate, too, since you might be spending a lot of time with the person. In both situations, picking a good friend can lead to hurt feelings, and possibly broken friendships.
Better to choose someone you respect and admire; someone you know has good work ethic and isn’t easily distracted. You might want to go through old work contacts to see if anyone fits that description and is in a similar work situation. Or, if you prefer to work with people whose work more closely matches your own, try keeping an eye out for contacts in your field who are also in your area. Of course, that’ll be easier to do if you’re based in a major urban center than if you’re somewhere more rural.
Finally, keep in mind that unlike a committed romantic relationship, there’s nothing preventing you from having multiple partners and changing it up from time to time.
Once you’ve established who you want to throw your hat in the ring with, you have to figure out where that ring’s going to be. With a coworking team of two, you’re obviously limited in terms of your options when it comes to renting space. If you’d still like to go that route, though, you can often find an office in a larger shared space (usually with shared facilities like a boardroom, cafeteria, etc.), many of which will include things like Internet service in the price of rental.
If that doesn’t really appeal to you, you can consider using the home of either one or the other partner. One might be more comfortable with the idea, or better equipped to handle two people working in their space, but if possible, try to use both people’s place for at least some of the time. I recommend this route to prevent stagnation, and to prevent one partner from getting the impression that the relationship is becoming unbalanced.
A third option is to try neutral third-party territory that you don’t have to pay for. It could be a coffee shop, or a cultural institution like a museum, something I discussed in an earlier post. You can also throw in outings like these to mix up your regular routine.
No matter who you decide to work with, or where you decide to do it, I recommend trying out a coworking partnership to every web worker, and specifically to those who haven’t been in a community office setting in a long time. Web working from home is a dream job for a lot of people, myself included, but sometimes we have to be careful not to get so lost or absorbed in that dream that we lose a sense of connection to our colleagues.
Have you tried a coworking partnership? Share your experiences in the comments.