Coworking can be a seemingly simple concept. It’s the shared use of a working environment with individuals from various organizations or those who are self-employed.
In addition to the more evident benefits of reduced isolation and overhead costs, coworking can bring about many seemingly serendipitous opportunities and benefits. From expanding your professional network, to gaining new skills, to sparking new ideas, to connecting you to resources and supports for your projects, these environments are hosted and curated to accelerate your work. In order to maximize the benefits of coworking, you need to be aware of your needs and be open to growing beyond traditional working norms. Here’s how.
Identify where you work best
Individuals have specific working needs, so it’s important to identify your essentials. These may include hours of work, travel time and location, noise preferences, and the fixed resources needed to complete your day-to-day work. Have your essentials in mind as you seek out coworking spaces and don’t be afraid to test a space on a trial basis. Keep in mind, a single coworking space may not serve all your working needs and you may need to establish a combination of working from home, at your office, and at a coworking space.
Leave room to experiment
Your work environment needs vary drastically by the nature of the task at hand. Some traditional offices don’t allow space for varied ways of working. Coworking spaces, however, are dynamic by design. When feeling low in productivity or needing to get out of a creative block, get up and move around. Utilize all that your coworking space has to offer from standing desks to seated ones, from highly interactive spots to quieter spaces. Changing your space alone can reinvigorate productivity, boost energy and help creativity, so seek to experiment.
Increasingly, coworking spaces are hosting individuals and organizations around specific themes. For example, the Impact Hub network with 100-plus global locations, hosts social innovators and entrepreneurs. Other coworking spaces have areas dedicated to female entrepreneurs or tech entrepreneurs. Find a community that resonates with you, utilize their networking opportunities, and leave time in your work day for breaks to make the most of these connections.
Schedule time for coworking
It’s helpful to prioritize coworking, particularly if you have a side hustle or creative project, which may fall to the wayside. To fully benefit, many people, especially those with regular offices, schedule “coworking days” as regular weekly events. On these days, schedule work best suited to your coworking space environment, which might be your face-to-face meetings or your creative tasks. Remember to also leave space for serendipity and try not to be bogged down by immediate deadlines.
Participate with an open mind
As with much in life, you get out of coworking what you put into it. Imagine: programming and new connections that inspire new ideas, improve the quality of your work, connect you to funding opportunities, or even find you a new business partner. The opportunities are plenty, but showing up with an openness to where you might find these sparks is key. Meeting a new connection with a business card can limit opportunities; rather the key is to learn of one another’s interests and passions, and more opportunities to collaborate may come to light. Simply make a point of saying hello to the person next to you.