Working from home sounds like a dream to a lot of freelancers – until they actually try it. But a home office is full of potential distractions: chatty flatmates, the dirty dishes eyeing you reproachfully from the sink, the temptation of YouTube and Netflix because no one is watching. It’s not always easy to be productive at home, but luckily there are alternatives. And one of the easiest low-commitment options is to take your work day to a coworking space. The result is often a boost in productivity and newfound focus, and plenty of networking with like-minded people.
What is the hype behind coworking? Here are some answers to the “whys” you might have on your mind.
What is a coworking space?
If you’ve never heard about coworking, you’re missing out! A coworking space is a collective office space often used by freelancers, remote workers or small companies. It’s perfect for when you don’t want to rent an entire office. Here you can simply rent a desk. All you need to bring is your laptop. Apart from electrical power and a roof –always rather practical for productive work – a coworking space provides all other infrastructure you might need for your work, like internet, printers, or an office kitchen. Often they also have meeting rooms, phone booths, presentation rooms and office pods, so you don’t need to meet your clients or customers in noisy cafés.
What makes a coworking space so attractive?
There's logic behind the hype to coworking spaces.They are hubs for creative professionals and birthplaces of start-ups. What used to be the shed or the garage back when Apple was just a twinkling in Steve Jobs’ eye has now shifted to creative spaces like the legendary St. Oberholz at Rosenthaler Platz in Berlin, where Soundcloud was born and Cold Brew was made popular.
Today there are countless coworking spaces in Berlin and around the world where you can have your own office without actually having to have one. So how can a coworking space improve your work?
Meeting people: A coworking space is basically a location filled with professionals from diverse backgrounds from all over the world. You might find yourself working alongside a graphic designer, a marketing manager, an architect, a translator and a CEO at one group desk, with your common language being English. Needless to say, this comes with networking opportunities, but also ways to learn and share expertise.
Networking: Coworking spaces encourage networking. Not only is it normal to approach a fellow coworker with a question, you have countless opportunities to attend in-house events organised by fellow coworkers or outside speakers. You might learn things that you never thought you would! This way your fellow coworkers are more than just the people you share a workspace with, they become your colleagues, even though you might be working on completely different projects.
After a day of hard work you often find more private networking events, where you can get to know your colleagues a bit better, professionally and personally. Around Christmas our coworking space smelled of mulled wine and cinnamon all the time, because there were so many get-togethers for all members!
Your own working space: A home office can be notoriously unproductive. A workplace which is just a few meters away from your comfy bed or the TV and Playstation may not be the ideal place to focus. Especially in the beginning of your freelancing career, you might have trouble separating your private life from your work. Leaving your home for work is a good way of establishing good habits for a solid work-life balance early on. You might go to a café, but a noisy, public place is not always ideal for work, especially if you need to communicate with clients over the phone often or if you need total focus. You don’t have these issues at a coworking space. And what makes it even better, coworking spaces often have their own in-house café. So if you want to enjoy a flat white and some noise after all, often it’s just a stone’s throw away.
Joining a coworking space, you live the best of both worlds. You enjoy your freedom as a freelancer, but still get to engage with creative and innovative colleagues.
Google might be your friend, but if I have to translate an email, I’d rather ask a native speaking colleague than Google Translate. On my floor in betahaus – a legendary location known here in Berlin as THE place to cowork – it’s a veritable Babel of languages. I’ve heard people speaking Greek, Dutch, Portuguese, German, and of course English. Downstairs I also have colleagues who speak Spanish and French.
How does coworking work?
Renting a desk at a coworking space is flexible and easy. You can rent a desk per month or year, you can pay per visit, or prepay multiple visits, which makes them cheaper.
In most coworking spaces you can adjust your plan to your individual needs. Night-owl? Get yourself 24/7 access. Sudden boost of creativity, but usually on Sundays? Buy weekend access! No need for a meeting room? Why pay for one.
When you choose a monthly plan, it’s usually cheaper to choose a “flex” option, meaning that you don’t have your own designated desk, but access to the coworking space and the freedom to choose from desks reserved for flex workers. Sometimes it’s individual desks, sometimes also group desks. This is possibly the best way to network, as you might see new faces every day.
If you’re not sure if this is for you, but you’re tempted to try coworking, some coworking spaces will give you your first day for free.
We wouldn’t change our betahaus for any other office space. Once you tried, you’ll know why.
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