By the time I moved to Nottingham in September of 2015, finding a good coworking space was at the top of my to-do list.
If you’d asked me the same thing five years earlier, I’d have said coworking sounded like a great idea, but that I’d have to stick to the home office, coffee shops and library until I was a little better off. I didn’t think I could afford to pay for a desk that just happened to be located someplace other than my house, even though I knew I really, really needed to get out more.
I was wrong, and that was because I didn’t understand coworking. It’s not about the desk. It’s not just about getting out of the house, although that IS a major benefit for a number of reasons. It was because I needed colleagues — and not the kind that I could only talk with through e-mail and Skype.
Working From Home: Not Living the Dream
Working from home sounds good in the abstract. If you’ve got the space, you can put together whatever type of home office you want: a carefully fitted out room with a door, or maybe a well organised area for files and supplies to support work at the kitchen table; a shed with electricity or perhaps an antique steel file cabinet and desk in the loft, with a whirling ceiling fan overhead. You know what I mean: home office fantasies from a work life spent mostly in cubicles, fraught with unwelcome interruptions and too many meetings.
When you work from home, there’s no stressful commute. You may never have to meet clients or collaborators face-to-face, and suddenly unexpected, awkward interactions are largely a thing of the past. But you lose the unexpected, wonderful, revelatory interactions as well, and physical movement becomes something you have to plan for. In the end, the isolation and inactivity become deal-breakers and working from home has got to stop being an everyday thing.
Finding a Coworking Space
Without coworking, I managed to pick up a few interesting freelance projects and grow a business, but working from home every day was feeling more and more like a trap. Finally, I found a coworking space I wanted to join.
It had a fantastic location in the centre of Glasgow, a block from the City Chambers (yay!)
It was a 45 minute walk or a 20 minute bus ride+walk from home (yay!)
It was up four steep flights of stairs (ummmm… good for keeping fit, I guess?)
Most importantly, it had a lively and interesting group of members, most of them independent workers. And it was on the pricey side for me at the time, but it turned out that didn’t matter.
Coworking: the Best of Both Worlds
Coworking spaces have a tendency to serve up local business connections that turn into profitable business relationships, and they often pay for themselves very directly, in high-quality referrals and project partnerships. But even without earnings that come straight out of the space and its business network, they are well worth the cost of membership.
Working by yourself at home can trap you in a mental box. Your coworkers can help put your challenges into perspective, give you useful ideas, and inspire you to develop your own. Watching other independent workers do well builds your confidence and helps keep you hopeful and positive. These are just a few of the surprising benefits of working next to people you’re not necessarily working with.
By the time I left Glasgow for Nottingham, I saw coworking as a necessity, not a luxury. The first thing I looked for in my new city was a coworking space, and when I didn’t find one that fit the bill, I started looking for a way to open one. That’s why MinorOak exists today. If you’re working from home in Notts and thinking you should get out more, then try working from here at least one or two days a week. Maybe you’ll end up agreeing that coworking is a necessity, not a luxury.