Co-working (or coworking) spaces are becoming quite the social, entrepreneurial movement these days; it’s finding it’s way into the media (it showed up on NYTimes.com: “An Office Space of One’s Own for Entrepreneurs“) and businesses are being created (such as CitizenDesk.com (WI) and OfficeNomads.com (WA)) that cater to “solo-preneurs” and freelancers alike. The blogosphere has been murmuring about coworking for quite some time in the freelancer-writer-developer world, but only in dribs and drabs. Now, the momentum is building and I think it has a great deal to do with the younger entrepreneurial movement–we’re not prone to be locked in a cubicle or hide away in our bedrooms on our laptops forever.
Co-working spaces are simply shared office environments that give you your own space to do your own thing but also gives you access to a coffeehouse-like community. Some of the benefits of co-working spaces are shared overhead expenses, community of fellow entrepreneurs, and a space to work outside of your home office. By consolidating the number of machines you need to lease, by sharing the cost of the square footage that you need, and having executive-level business amenities (conference room, lounge space for collaboration with your team or clients, reception area, work room or kitchen and other spaces), solo’s and small teams can enjoy growing outside of a vacuum. If you have staff or a business partner, they are being seen and interacted with, if not on a business level, at least on a social level which is always good for morale and other entrepreneurs are around so they’ll stay on their best behavior. You get to network among your peers, who are a potential customer base or can refer you to potential clients, all while learning from each other so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to figure out how to use the copier machine (or write a proposal, perhaps).
We are not talking about sharing the office with one office mate, on which Entrepreneur.com’s article guides you, and we’re not talking about virtual offices (a/k/a executive or shared office centers such as Intelligent Office, Carr Workplaces and The Regus Group, though they are fine options too). There are downsides to co-working spaces, but if you choose properly they can be great for the lonely entrepreneur. Post a comment if you have experience in a co-working space.
To learn more about coworking spaces, check out this site.