Last summer, I started a new job that had me working from home 100 percent of the time.
While I’d had some remote-work flexibility in the past, this was the first time I’d be doing it every day.
I wouldn’t even have an office to go to if I wanted to, as our entire team here at Edgar is scattered across the continent.
When I tell people about my job, the usual response is some mix of envy and disbelief. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “Oh, I could get so much done if I just worked from home!” I would have a whole sack of nickels.
But they’re not wrong. I definitely have a better work-life balance working from home than I did when I went into an office all the time. But it doesn’t happen automatically.
And a big part of my productivity comes from getting out of the house when I can.
Finding all the comforts of home
Treating my work-from-home situation as anything less than an office job made my work suffer. When my body is in “couch mode,” my mind ends up there as well. Plus, working from the couch was hell on my posture.
I quickly set up a dedicated office space to work from, and my work (and neck) showed immediate improvement.
But it turns out that sitting in an empty house all day can still be a pretty lonely affair.
I realized that there were times when I could literally go for days without speaking to another human being, and as much as I love my dog, she is not a great coworker.
I needed to change things up. So I decided to join a coworking space: Indy Hall in Philadelphia.
What’s a coworking space?
A coworking space is a place for people who work remotely to come together and share an office-type environment. As I write this, I’m surrounded by people who work for different companies, each working on different things.
There’s a group at one of the lunch tables nearby having a passionate and fascinating chat about physics. Earlier, I met some architects who were happy to give me a sneak peek at a new building going up in my neighborhood. And, most importantly for me, there are other writers around who are more than happy to talk shop.
If you’re the sort of person who prefers working in the silence of a library, maybe a coworking space isn’t for you. But I need that buzz in the air.
It makes me feel like I’m a part of something creative, which inspires me to be more productive.
And if that buzz becomes distracting, I have a nice pair of headphones to make it all vanish.
Maximizing the social network
Being part of Indy Hall has also proven to be a powerful networking tool. Upon signing up, I immediately felt like part of this network of entrepreneurs, innovators, and DIYers who were often looking for ways to collaborate.
If you’re looking to add to your freelance workload, a coworking space could be a ready source of opportunity.
It’s also a cool way to learn new things. We have a Slack channel that serves as an ongoing skill swap. (Although joining a slack team with over 300 members made it really important for me to reinvent my Slack habits!) I’ve seen baking lessons exchanged for coding lessons, a photoshop tutorial swapped for an intro to recording software, and a whole group of people band together to take up rock climbing.
We also have regular “show and tell” events where our coworkers share what they’re working on. The last one featured discussions on comic books, social media monitoring apps and independent pro wrestling. We’re a little eclectic — and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How to find your ideal coworking space
Every coworking space I’ve visited has a distinct personality reflected in its decor.
I shopped around a bit before choosing mine, and had the opportunity to see a space in Austin that’s used by another Edgar team member. While coworking spaces are still scarce in many cities, it’s safe to assume that you’ll have some options for finding the right fit for your tastes.
My spot has a hip industrial look with lots of exposed concrete, while other spots looked straight out of some high-end tech company, giant bean-bag chairs and all.
Maybe looks don’t matter to you as long as you have a space to be productive. But imagine yourself hosting a business meeting there. Does it reflect the way you’d want other people to think about you and your business? Will you be forced to meet in a converted closet, or are there actual conference rooms for you to use?
And, most of all: Does the space inspire you?
Beyond just the looks of the place, take note of ergonomic considerations. Are there options for where to sit, and what kinds of chairs to sit on? Or are there standing desks available, if that’s what you’re into? Make sure the space you choose will be as comfortable to work in as it is cool to look at, because you’re going to be spending a lot of time there.
Ready to start coworking?
If you have the ability to work from home even a few days a week, but you find it difficult, lonely, or a little boring to sit home alone each day, you should definitely consider joining a coworking spot.
It’s an easy way to inject some excitement or spontaneity into an otherwise dull schedule. It infuses a little extra motivation into your remote workdays. You get to meet interesting people, work in a nice space, and potentially collaborate with other creative individuals.
Sharing an office environment with a bunch of folks who work for different companies may seem a little unusual at first, but for me it’s been an incredible experience.
Whether you’re writing to make sales, win contests, or to give your readers exciting new content, the change of pace provided by a coworking space can be a welcome part of your routine.
Good luck finding a space as great as mine.
Do you belong to a coworking space? How has it changed your working habits?