Coworking. I tried it recently. A short fling to experience an intriguing concept, I thought.
A few weeks later, I’m madly in love, addicted, and so besotted that I want everyone to know how beautiful it is.
So if you’re independent, serious about your work, and ready to up your game—it’s time you gave coworking a try.
THE PRACTICAL BENEFITS—NICE TO HAVE BUT NOT ENOUGH
Perhaps, like me, you’ve heard the usual pitch on the practical benefits of coworking. And like me, it didn’t win you over completely.
A network of talented pros to connect with. Almost all the talk about coworking starts with the community—a network of experts you can tap into for casual idea-sharing or to formally partner with. But the value of that network isn’t that powerful for those of us not in tech or a start-up. My people are creative folks, storytellers, strategists, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, documentarians, philosophers.
Office amenities like commercial broadband, copiers, a mail room, and conference rooms for meetings. You gotta admit that’s nice, especially since you can’t pull out a flipchart or whiteboard for a meeting at Coffee Bar. But if you’ve been working independently for a while, you probably already have most of what you need. Why give up a spacious private home office and my fancy-pants French press coffee to share desks with strangers and risk bad coffee, I thought at first.
Focus and productivity. The laundry, the new Chowhound recipe, the neverending DIY project—working from home can sometimes be a daylong test of one’s will to work. Many coworkers say better focus (and safe haven from screaming children!) is a major selling point. But what about the time wasted on dressing up, making sure you’ve packed everything you need, and commuting? It takes me a good 50-minutes to get ready in the morning, and then 20 minutes to commute to my nearby coworking space. Will I really gain 90-hard-minutes-worth of increased productivity each day, I questioned.
A tax-break. It’s what I tell myself now when I write the check to my coworking host. But it’s more a justification than a selling point. If I think too much about this, I start questioning how much of a benefit it really is and a spinning beach ball sets off in my brain as it tries to calculate how much this tax break will actually lower my tax bill.
THE REAL VALUE OF COWORKING: WHAT IT DOES TO YOU
However, I felt a shift after I started coworking. When I “go to work,” I feel energized, enthused, ready and eager to work. A reminder that there’s something more to what I do.
I’m not just making a living.
I’m building my practice.
I’m shaping my future.
I’m pursuing my dreams and fulfilling my ambitions.
I’m putting a stake in the ground that says, I believe in my work and my future—that I will prevail and succeed whatever the market environment, and whatever minor setbacks the day may throw me.
Not that these notions and beliefs are new to anyone who has the courage to be independent. But committing to a coworking space, and the ritual of “going to the office” regularly has a magical way of magnifying these emotions. It boosts your spirit. It intensifies your convictions. It inspires you to explore your full potential.
SO HERE’S MY PITCH FOR COWORKING
Come cowork with me, if your work matters.
Come cowork with me, if dreams and goals are the same to you.
Come cowork with me, if you believe in what you do, if you believe the future is bright because you’ll make it so.
Come cowork with me, if you’re ready to up your game.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF COWORKING
The usual pitch for coworking didn’t sway me because it only focused on the practical, rational benefits. But I was sold when I experienced for myself the real magic of coworking—the powerful mental boost that comes from those practical benefits.
Energy is contagious. People don’t just bring connections and expertise. They bring energy, and energy builds and spreads when people come together. There’s something electrifying about a crowd of like-minded peers, all working towards our goals, who show up because we care enough about our work to invest in a dedicated space for it, who are confident and optimistic about the opportunities ahead. It doesn’t matter what industry or sector we come from—what we share is common respect and passion for the work we do. Like practicing at a yoga studio instead of at home, we may never talk to or network with anyone, but we feed off each other’s energy to intensify our practice.
Dedicated space to hone our craft. Forget about amenities and infrastructure. What matters is what they symbolize—a space where everything is dedicated to doing good work. Libraries, more than a mere collection of books, is a temple to knowledge and learning that inspires us to open our minds. Entering a baseball stadium stirs up powerful emotions and reinvigorates our passion for the game. Likewise, a coworking space is a sacred arena for our work, our practice, our profession. A home office is nice, but it doesn’t quite compare to the impact of a full-scale temple for nurturing entrepreneurial drive and professional craftsmanship.
A ritual that prepares you for a good game. A designer dress with creative flair, face paint that says I’m sharp and on top of it all, a bag thoughtfully packed with all the tools of my trade. Like a soldier preparing for battle or an athlete warming up for a race, getting dressed and commuting to work is a ritual that focuses my mind and prepares me for the work ahead. Who cares about a few petty minutes lost or gained? What we really want is to shine, and to be in top form for a win.
INTRIGUED AND WANT TO KNOW MORE?
This is the first of several more blogs I have planned to profess my new-found love for coworking. Next week I’ll write about the coworking spaces I visited in SF, and why I love where I am. I’ll also share some cool coworking spaces from around the world that I discovered online while geeking out on the topic.
And if you need more convincing, here’s a link to another convert’s list of the 23 ways that coworking has changed her career and life for the better.