It’s fair to say that GCUC 2016 left many feeling a little disheartened as to the direction of coworking, so how did last week’s Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) rate with its attendees?
One of the best things about joining a coworking space is the community. Working from home is a great way to get some extra work done. Most of us can't wait until we can do it full time. Eventually, the constant grind and endless distractions can make you yearn for an office. A place dedicated to working so that when you do get home you can relax.
Let's face it, as much as you hated going into an office every day there were some great things about it. Free coffee, a nice desk, brand new computers, catered lunches, fast wifi, and more. Your office had many things that made your workday much easier. Even if your office didn't have many extras that you liked, every office also had one thing that made you start to miss it after being gone for a little while. Awesome coworkers.
Let's not sugar coat it. A vast majority of coworkers were not people that you have any interest socializing with. Micromanaging bosses, annoying busybodies, the guy that steals stuff in the break room. Offices are rife with aggravating people. And even if they are huge jerks, because of office politics you have to try and be nice to them. Luckily the majority of people at most offices are nice enough. Not that you would necessarily miss them if you never saw them again.
What makes most offices special is the people you get excited to see after taking some time off. The people you enjoy having a brief chat to catch up with. The coworkers you meet for coffee, grab lunch, go to happy hour with and invite to social events. The coworkers that are your friends. Those special people that make work enjoyable.
The great thing about coworking spaces is that they are packed with people like you. Fellow freelancers, business owners and creatives of all types. Peers that have gone through the same things you might be going through now. Peers that might need your advice. More than anything people that are easy to talk to because they understand the lifestyle of working for yourself.
Humans are social animals. It's important to be around your peers as much as possible. What's the fun of building something special all alone? Building a strong network you enjoy being around is a great way to spend your time. Coworking spaces have amazing people that are working on interesting things. If you're lucky enough to have a great coworking space near you, take the time to check it out and see if you enjoy it.
Today, entrepreneurs have the ability to meet other talented founders, business owners and freelancers and work beside them in a beautiful and modern office space. A nasty secret of entrepreneurship is that it can get quite lonely at times. Even though most corporate employees get some work done at home, there is a huge difference when you work full time at home, let alone the 24/7 work schedule of a new business owner. Cafes are great for a couple hours, but once you start to get into the 3-4 hour range you feel pressured to get up and leave.
The close knit community of many coworking spaces is what makes them the ideal office space. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners have a common bond that few people on the outside understand. Being surrounded by like minded people that you can form long term bonds and business relationships with is invaluable. This could be anything from another freelancer that you enjoy getting coffee with, to another startup founder who compliments your skills, or a small business owner that has experience with a problem you are currently dealing with and can help you solve it.
Events are another huge benefit of working in a coworking space. Launch parties, hackathons, tech talks, game nights, leadership workshops, venture capitalist guest speakers, happy hours, panel discussions, monthly classes and demo days are some of the most popular types of events that coworking spaces host but there are many more options as well.
If you are interested in a coworking space, most of them offer day passes. This can be a great way to get a feel for a coworking space before you dive in and sign up for a monthly membership. You can see if a shared workspace, private desk or a private office might be the best fit for you. While you're visiting, you can also check out the conference rooms and event spaces. The best coworking spaces also offer free tours so you can get a feel for the vibe of the entire office space.