Coworking clearly works. Freelancers, startups and remote workers consistently report an increase in productivity and a more stable work-life balance after joining a coworking space. So it’s with good reason that the coworking phenomenon continues to grow so rapidly. Since the first coworking spaces of the early 00’s, coworking has expanded exponentially and today there are thousands of coworking spaces around the globe.
You’ve likely heard about the numerous benefits of coworking and there certainly are obvious advantages for a whole range of workers who might join a shared workspace. The networking opportunities, the increased productivity, the business growth – the benefits seem innumerable and undeniable for freelancers. Realistically, though, as a coworker, you will still have to put in some effort to reap these rewards.
You will not be immediately flooded with collaboration opportunities and instant financial growth for your enterprise the second you step into your first coworking space. That’s not to say those opportunities aren’t there. They are. You just need to grab them.
That’s why we decided to look at some of the ways to make the most of your coworking space in order to reap all the benefits that it really can offer.
Coworking places will often hold talks and events for their members. Whether these are talks by experts or simply drinks after work, make sure you attend. If you consider the coworking space as simply a place with a desk where you can get some work done, then you won’t reap the rewards coworking can bring to your business. Coworking spaces are designed to help your enterprise grow and succeed, so take advantage.
If there are Friday night drinks planned at your space, go along and you will soon get to know your fellow coworkers. This immediately has multiple benefits: you will feel more comfortable in the space; you will be happy to come to work with people you know and like; and you will likely create connections that can grow into flourishing collaborate relationships.
If your space puts on a workshop that includes a talk with an expert, attend the workshop. It’s almost guaranteed that you will learn something you didn’t know before. Without a coworking space, you would unlikely have access to such expertise. So, take advantage and soak up any information you can. Coworking providers bring in speakers solely to help their members. By skipping events like this, you might miss out on a piece of information that could have changed your business forever.
Content Marketing Workshop at NextSpace Santa Cruz by Cat Johnson.
Take advantage of your coworking space’s network. Firstly, your coworking provider may have a number of spaces itself (Pacific Workspaces has 18 spaces across California, for instance). Make the most of this by visiting all the locations that you can. Working in new, vibrant atmospheres will be motivating and add a freshness to your workday, whilst maintaining the professional and productive atmosphere of a coworking office. By using all the spaces on offer to you, you will never feel stuck or stymied in the same place.
If your coworking provider only has one space, don’t fear, as they still may well be part of a network of coworking spaces. Often coworking spaces have connections across the country and the globe. Your membership at one space may give you free or cheaper access at a coworking space elsewhere. Take advantage of this by visiting new coworking spaces to make new connections in new places. This could be vital for any organisation looking to expand their enterprise. Pacific Workplaces has a sister company CloudVO which partners with coworking locations all over the world to let their more mobile members use spaces through a global network of 700 locations worldwide.
You will likely have read about the abundance of networking opportunities in coworking spaces, even before you became a member of one. There certainly are opportunities to discuss, collaborate and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurial spirits in coworking spaces. But importantly, these opportunities don’t necessarily present themselves on a plate. As noted before, it is well worth going to events and functions to get to know your fellow co-workers. This can be especially helpful for those less outgoing co-workers, as the events are often designed to let people get to know one another.
However, not all your networking can be done at the Friday drinks. Many people may not attend. Some people may not want to talk business after a hard day’s work. So, if you want to grow your connections and network effectively then getting to know your coworking companions throughout the working day might just be necessary.
Fortunately, this hack is simple: talk to people. This will obviously be more daunting for some than others, but make sure to say hello – however social or unsociable you are. Networking and collaboration do not happen magically, someone has to say hello.
Other co-workers are there for the same reason as you: maybe they feel isolated, working at home; maybe they want to share ideas; maybe they want to be part of a working community. Whatever their reasons, they are likely very open to connecting too, so don’t be daunted. Saying hello may well lead to a business relationship or a friendship that could change your future.
Take Advantage of the Space
The reason coworking spaces are so impactful is because they overcome the problems of the traditional office. Rather than being stuck in a cubicle or forced to stare at a computer all day, as in most traditional offices, you can take advantage of breakout space, communal areas and even outdoor space. Traditional offices are often without these spaces – many workers are forced to have lunch at their desk, with no communal or breakout space whatsoever. Make the most of these spaces by getting away from the laptop for a bit and resting your mind and remember: most workers don’t have this luxury.
Lush Courtyard at Pacific Workplaces San Mateo
As someone who works in a coworking space, you are able to somewhat make your own schedule. You have likely read about the ample work vs rest time for optimum concentration. Research has shown that working for 52 minutes and resting for 17 is the best practice for maximum productivity. Most workers are not able to simply switch off for 17 minutes and they probably do worse as a result of being unable to do so. You should take advantage of the freedom you are afforded in the coworking space and take those regular breaks to increase productivity. As noted, you have the further advantage of spending that break in a genuinely appealing space, where you can genuinely rest your mind and refuel. Most people don’t have this opportunity, so don’t waste it.
Use Your Space Productively
Coworking spaces are often impressively designed, with productivity in mind. This is one of the main reasons people are so attracted to them. But, again, you will not magically become more productive when you walk into your first coworking space. Although it will be easier to focus and you will have fewer distractions than working from home, there are still some things you can do to guarantee maximum productivity.
Whether you have a dedicated desk or find a different spot each day, it is worth doing a little bit of personalizing if possible. Studies have shown people who personalize their desk with a picture or a plant are 15% more productive than those who don’t. You may think that coworking spaces lack the stability of your own personal workspace. If you can afford it, choose a dedicated desk which, as this will be your own personal workspace. However, if you are hot-desking bring a picture or some personal items to make your desk your own and feel more productive.
Since coworking spaces are less formal than traditional offices, there may well be chatter and background noise in your space. A chatty coworking space is a collaborative, friendly one – so this is a good thing. However, if you struggle to work with background noise make sure to bring headphones (preferably noise-cancelling ones) to help you concentrate.
Finding desk space with natural light and a pleasing backdrop could make a big difference to your daily output so pick a workspace option that best suits your needs. If you are the kind of person that could stare out a window all day, pick a desk facing the wall. Pick a desk or space that best suits your work style.
Coworking spaces are diverse and rich places, so ensure that you are making the most of everything they have to offer. This way you will genuinely experience the multiple benefits often attributed to them. Coworking spaces can improve the growth of your enterprise, they can give you a better work-life balance and they can help you create valuable connections and friendships, but only if you properly engage with them. By following these tips you will be on your way to making the upmost of the special workplace you get to be a part of.
Pacific Workplaces is a leading provider of flexible workspace solutions. For more information on our shared workspace options, check us out at PacificWorkplaces.com.