There are many advantages to freelance and remote work. You can create your own schedule and work on projects that drive you. Just like any job, there can be drawbacks due to the enormous amount of pressure freelancers can put on themselves. Coinciding with the gig economy and the rise of remote work, coworking spaces have become more popular in recent years. These spaces function like offices only you are completely independent.
If you find yourself struggling in your remote work, then it is time to consider joining one. These are the ways coworking spaces can help you excel at your work and become your new best friend.
Engage in Social Interaction
As a freelancer or someone who works remotely, you spend much of your day on your alone. You might work out of your home or go to a coffee shop to get your work done. Your opportunities for interaction are fewer than someone who works in a bustling office all day. This feeling is common among those who work independently. Almost half of freelancers identify their work experience as “lonely” or “isolating.” Isolation from others can impact your mental health leading to depression and anxiety.
Further, the isolation inherent in remote work arrangements can leave you with a feeling of inadequacy. Since you are not around other freelancers, you do not know how much they struggle. Social media makes it easy to see the success of others but not their failures. The problems you find from working remotely are likely ubiquitous. Without someone to compare notes, you can feel like you are the only one who cannot make it work.
Co-working spaces can help you defeat this mental fog and the feelings of inadequacy by putting you in a mix of other remote workers. Co-working spaces usually involve large open-plan areas that operate either on a hot-desk system or have assigned desks. Sitting next to other freelancers, you have the opportunity to chat and get to know other people in a similar situation. This can help you build your network of support that is crucial for keeping a positive outlook on your work.
Evidence shows that the social environment pays off for freelancers. A study from the Harvard Business Review finds that almost 90% of survey participants felt less lonely after joining a coworking space. To make the most of your mingling opportunities, go to the after-work socials. Plan your meals in the space. Many co-working spaces have full kitchens and tables to eat your lunch. Take this as an opportunity to strike up a conversation and ask about other people’s work. Schedule breaks throughout the day and take these in the designated social areas. Have a cup of coffee and meet someone new. Do not be shy. Remember that other remote workers chose coworking arrangements for more social interaction as well.
Another problem you likely face as a remote worker is the lack of productivity. Although there are lots of benefits to the flexibility of freelancing, too much flexibility can negatively impact some workers. Some people just need more structure in their day. Without an exact time to go to work, you can keep telling yourself you will get to it later. A structure can include a scheduled working time and accountability measures to make sure you keep working.
Productivity for remote workers also suffers due to a lack of focus. At home, you have a multitude of things to pull you away from your work and distract you. A pile of laundry that needs to be done, a ringing phone and the draw of television can all lead to knocking you off your schedule and distracting you.
Coworking can make you more productive by giving you structure and reinforcing discipline in focus. Although coworking spaces never require you to be at your desk, you do pay for a membership. If you do not go in to do your work, then you are wasting your money. Tying a financial incentive to doing your work can help you develop a sense of structure. Coworking spaces usually have long hours, so they can still be on your schedule while encouraging you to develop a regular habit. Coworking spaces also have meeting rooms so that you can keep your meetings close and cause less disruption to your schedule.
Once you are there, you are in an office environment that is in some ways like a traditional office. Many spaces have rules about volume levels so that workspaces remain quiet for optimal production. This limits possible distractions. Since you are surrounded by other people working hard, do not be surprised if you feel motivated to be more productive. You also have access to office equipment, such as printers and fax machines, that can make your job easier.
Participate in Professional Development Opportunities
Many companies offer professional development as a way to strengthen employee skills, motivate employees and increase employee retention. Skill requirements and technology are constantly changing, and professional development opportunities help you stay ahead of the curve. These opportunities can be crucial for expanding your network and your profile. As a remote worker, you often miss out on these opportunities, or you have to pay a lot of money to attend conferences in your field.
You can further your professional development by attending events in your coworking space. These spaces usually put on monthly or weekly events that bring in experts and provide opportunities for sharing skills. Events can include a tutorial on a new software package, a seminar on time management or more. If you want to get involved, offer to demonstrate your skills for an event. Sharing is also a great way to get feedback on your work. Many coworking companies include these events in the price of your membership, which makes it an affordable option for development.
Networking at these events can help you link your skill deficits with people who know more about a certain area. If you are a freelance writer who needs help with web development, these events allow you to ask questions and get advice. Some people even find ways to collaborate on projects. If your coworking space does not offer these events, then get a group together and start your own. You can come up with your first ideas for events by leveraging people’s skills.
Coworking spaces can help make up for some of the pitfalls of working remotely. Loneliness, distractions, a lack of structure, and missing skill development can all impact the quality and quantity of your work. The good news is that you do not need to bear it alone. Coworking spaces are a simple way of creating an order for your work that can make you more productive.
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