Finding a good place to work can be a struggle. Traipsing busy, crowded streets looking for anywhere that serves good coffee, with a quiet vibe and plenty of plugs for chargers. When you finally find somewhere that works, you spend 90% of your time plucking up the courage to ask for the wifi password, trying to decipher the complicated coffee menu and struggling to focus with the array of new sounds and smells assaulting your senses. You decide that perhaps this place just doesn’t work for you, and the whole cycle repeats itself again.
This is why co-working spaces work. An important addition to the freelancing, blogging and self-employed community, co-working spaces have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The ability to work, collaborate and create in a shared working environment can make a huge difference to your productivity levels, motivation and general sense of connection to the freelancing community.
For one, freelancing can be an isolating career path. Spending days inside your home with no one else to talk about your projects can make you feel constricted and unimaginative, so it’s always good to have a colleague-equivalent to keep you company. This could be someone to bounce ideas off, check through your work, offer inspiration for your next move. They could even provide networking opportunities, invites to press events and meetups for others in your industry – leading to further potential work for you. The notion of a co-working space plays into these ideals, helping independent workers to establish themselves within a network of people with similar professions and mentalities, whilst retaining the free will working environment they enjoy.
Co-working spaces also provide a unique and modern solution to the declining surface of retail. With the physical act of shopping and experiencing retail heading cautiously down hill this year, more and more hybrid spaces are opening up in an attempt to bring new life into cities and towns for shoppers. Where the coffee shop itself is a relatively sturdy high street icon, innovations in home technologies are steadily battling to take precedence with portable coffee machines, pod kits and pocket-sized barista stations making it even easier for people to stay at home for their favourite coffee.
The concept of the workplace, too, is shifting. Modern offices are becoming increasingly flexible and diverse in their approach to the ‘work space’, encouraging employees to work from coffee shops, cafes and home studies in an attempt to increase productivity. The slow fading of 9-5 grind on the second floor means that co-working spaces are in even more demand than ever, offering up alternate meeting spaces, networking spots and casual conference centres away from the central office.
Plus, it’s not as if the demand wouldn’t be high. City workers, students, bloggers, freelancers, creators, artists, self-employed and modern working citizens would all benefit from the opportunity to co-create in a friendly space. Even the host coffee shops and cafes would reap the rewards from encouraging co-working in their properties; additional marketing opportunities, an increase in customers, higher profits, higher demand and a much stronger connection with your regulars. As an ex-customer service worker, I can promise you that you’ll grow to love the blogger that stays in one seat for the whole day over the busy group that bustles in and out in 10 minutes flat.
Yes, there are drawbacks. Co-working and creating in coffee shops doesn’t necessarily equate to high spending in coffee shops, and can clog up valuable table space with laptops, notebooks and sketch pads – unsettling non-co-working customers. It can also be a big pull on resources such as wifi, charging ports and electricity. But the potential to come out of it is enormous. Taking the concept right down to it’s essentials – look what JK Rowling did for The Elephant House. 7 books later and that cafe is as busy as it’s ever been, proving that those kind enough and savvy enough to invest in something as simple and fundamental as a co-working space are destined for good.