Pic by Freya McOmish, back when we were coworking in Copenhagen.
I know lots of freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers, bloggers seem to work seamlessly from home or wherever they're calling home for the moment. They sit down to work at 7am and work through until 6, working all day with laser focus. To me, this must be a different breed of person than what I am, because the picture of me working from home, wherever I am in the world, looks very different.
My work-from-home days, in Brisbane or abroad, are filled with wistful lie downs on the couch, visits to the almond butter jar in the cupboard, elaborate lunches that take one hour to cook, one hour to eat and just a general feeling of nothing-to-do, nowhere-to-be that's really not conducive to me doing my best work any time soon. Without a place to work, I don't feel legit in my pursuits, I don't feel motivated, I feel isolated, I get bored, I don't make friends, it can feel like living a half life for me.
So here I am making the case for coworking and why it's worth it. For the record, coworking is where you get a bunch of independent workers together in a space to plug into the wall, tap into the wireless and sit quietly or not quietly and do their work on their laptops. Sometimes they're formal like this or this, sometimes they're just out of someone's home like this. So why cowork?
By committing to a desk in a coworking space, you tell yourself (and the universe too) - I mean this, I'm serious, I am putting my intention behind this. Intention from within can produce amazing things without.
It Gives You Something Tangible To Do
'What did you get up to today?', asks my housemate, mother, boyfriend or whoever I'm living with, 'I sat in front of my computer and typed on it' is the answer when I work from home. Working online, where you work in intangible concepts, producing words, images, graphics, strategies and nothing physical, it can feel like you don't do much. There's not too many in-person meetings (you do get to do that Skype trick for meetings though where you wear a business shirt up top and pajama pants down bottom) or physical errands to run. So to have somewhere physical to leave the house and go to, it makes things seem more real. Especially if you're doing this as a nomad in a foreign city, having a place to go where you belong makes your life seem more real and normal. With a coworking space, you add something tangible to this foundation that's always a bit shaky at the start i.e. a business that you're building solely with your laptop, an idea in your head and a feeling in your heart.
There’s Nothing To Do But Work
There's no distractions here. You are, in a sense, under the supervision of your fellow workers so you can't really indulge any possible diversions. You can't go lie down on the couch, watch youtube clips or eat aforementioned almond butter from the jar in plain sight of people when you want them to take you seriously.
You're Surrounded By 'Doing' Energy
The person to your left and right and in front are looking really busy, they're getting on with it, typing furiously, making skype calls, scheming with their business partner, it's motivating, it's contagious this energy. It's empowering when you sit amidst this energy of people getting stuff done.
Your Dreams Seem Plausible
I'm always surprised at the endless supply of personal optimism that's required to keep going when you're doing your own thing. I have so many days and I know lots of independent workers do too, where I wonder why I'm doing this; it all seems a bit far fetched in the low moments. Having a coworking space goes beyond having the physical place for me, it goes all the way through to my mindset too. When you have this dedicated space and you surround yourself with people proving it can work out, suddenly your dream seems a lot more plausible. The belief that you're on a good path creeps in stronger and stronger when you're surrounded by people doing what you're doing and succeeding, or even just trying.
You Get To Have Work Friends
When you quit a regular 9-5 job there are certain things you have to let go of: a regular salary, free sandwiches at lunch meetings, all the stationery you could ever want, the office cookie jar and hardest of all, your work friends. Coworking can't help you get all those things back (maybe the cookie jar) but it can help you get some work friends. Don't discount the value of having some nice people around to exchange a few stories, escape to eat lunch or even collaborate on some cool projects. And when you're doing this abroad, a coworking space can be a source of much-needed real life friends to hang out with too in a new city.