A Coworking Experiment

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?

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