To be Freelance Free —
Coworking is a growing trend among freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. The idea is simple: individuals work in the same environment but don’t necessarily work together. The emphasis is on community. Coworking spaces not only allow freelancers and entrepreneurs to have a space outside of their home office or local Starbucks but also gives them the opportunity to network with others in the same industry. It is part of the new shared economy focus.
Coworking is a becoming more and more popular, especially amongst technology freelancers and early startups. Most co-workers tend to be younger, averaging about 35 years old. 78% are under 40 years old. More than half are freelancers and only 20% employ other workers. While coworking has primarily been used by technology companies, it has evolved over the past few years. Freelancers and other industries, such as fashion and food, are also using co-working spaces. Not surprisingly, most co-working spaces consists of creative industries, writers, designers and digital media specialists, such as web developers or programmers. Following these two industries is marketing, such as public relations.
While co-working has been around for years, it is especially catching on now for a number of reasons.
- Interaction with others: The social experience: It’s challenging to work at home everyday. 91% said coworking helps them with their business by having daily interactions with others. Whether business related or not, working and communicating with others in the same space can boost productivity.
- Identify other work opportunities: The networking opportunities in a co-working are abundant. It is a great place to interact with other freelancers and entrepreneurs in the same industry.
- Have a physical office space: Many freelancers and entrepreneurs work from home or from a local coffee shop. While these options are free and flexible, it poses certain limitations. Joining a co-working space allows entrepreneurs and small businesses to gather for team meetings or meet with clients. Moving away from your home office from time to time also helps avoid typical distractions, like watching TV or taking an extended break on the couch.
- Improve skills: More and more co-working offer sponsor workshops, online training, and member events included these in the cost of membership. It’s a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and also learn about industry trends.
- Save money: Coworking enables companies to save money because they don’t have to make a long term commitment to a lease or spend a lot of money on expensive office equipment. Coworking spaces have all the essentials of a typical office, including high-speed internet and conferencing equipment.
- Meet deadlines: 64% of people said working in a co-working environment enables them to meet deadlines on time. This is probably the result of watching other dedicated workers around them. 68% said they could also focus better on their work in a co-working environment.
- Share knowledge and experience: Co-working enables you to seek out help from others and ties to the trend of the sharing economy. Some spaces are catering to specific groups, such as designers. There’s also been a rapid increase in content and professional development such as content, workshops, etc. Many are even offering to connect participants with domain experts who offer mentoring, advice, etc.
Coworking is not just a shared office space but a community with a culture its own. There’s a debate about whether or not it is a fad, but considering 40% of the workforce are becoming freelancers, it will probably continue to be attractive to entrepreneurs who often face the issue of working on their own. It’s important to note that it is not about a physical space, but a community approach.
Coworking is often confused with Corporate Business Centers, which often target business travelers, mobile workers, and corporate businesses. They are often more expensive, offer conference rooms, provide administrative assistants and more, although the lines between these two are getting blurred. One of the largest, Regus, is usually associated with big corporations, lawyers, financial consultants, formal environments, and the like. So when it introduced its two new brands, Think Korra and Spaces, Regus had to separate itself from them. These new brands target a younger entrepreneur, not their usual share of clients. Regus, like many other companies are starting to seem, know that younger generations depend on the more affordable and community oriented co-working spaces.
Coworking spaces are becoming more than just an office space to get some work done. It’s a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs and freelancers to learn and network from others in the same boat. While it’s a trend, it’s one that here to stay for awhile. The market is becoming more and more saturated with co-working spaces but as the number of freelancers grow in the coming years, the demand for these spaces will only increase as well. The most important aspect to consider when joining a co-working space is community. It’s not just a place with a desk to work on it. As a freelancer or entrepreneur, find the space that is most geared toward what you do. You’ll never know who you’ll meet and the opportunities you’ll come across working in the same spaces as others.