As coworking grows from a small community of freelancers to a global phenomenon with proven benefits for professional growth, a lot of workers are considering if it is right for them. Just like starting a job with an open office floor-plan or a job that allows for remote work might be a major change of pace, starting out in a coworking community can be an unfamiliar work environment that may be hard to navigate at first. Whether you’re going into your first month in a coworking space or have been doing it for a while and are looking to step up your game, these five tips for better coworking will help you make the most of your shared workspace.
1. Don’t be afraid to try out different options
Not all coworking spaces are the same, but luckily most have flexible plans or even free trials that will allow you to discover which environment is right for you. For example, some freelancers strive in an open, “hot-desk” environment while others need a quieter, private office within their community. There is also the question of whether you will do best in a full-time coworking community like WeWork, or if you should consider the hot new trend of restaurant coworking, led by companies like KettleSpace. Many coworking spaces are tailored for specific industries, too, so feel free to explore until you find one that meshes well with your working style and what you are looking to get out of the community besides simply having a place to work that is better than a coffee shop.
2. Come prepared
Coworking spaces provide many benefits for their members, like reliable WiFi, power outlets for charging and free coffee, tea and snacks; but that does not mean you can just show up with empty pockets. A major difference between a traditional office and a coworking space is that you may not have somewhere to leave your charger, headphones, snacks or other necessities. It may seem simple, but learning to check that you have everything you need for your day of work before heading out is an essential part of coworking that can sometimes go overlooked.
3. Set your own plan for productivity
The key to success in a coworking space is learning what you need to do to be the most productive. Without coworkers or a boss by your side and checking in on you, finding habits that lead to you getting the most work done in a day is absolutely necessary. For starters, while it can be tempting to choose a comfortable couch or even outdoor table to work from, you may find that there are less distractions at a traditional desk or table. Next, look into productivity tools like Evernote, Asana or Trello, that can help with setting daily goals, managing tasks and limiting your ability to lose track of things. Noise-canceling headphones are a useful tool for some coworkers also, especially in a shared workspace.
4. Decide how many hours you need
A lot of coworking spaces will offer unlimited plans in addition to less-expensive limited options. For example, KettleSpace’s plans start at $25 for a 10-hour plan and go up to $99 for unlimited hours. Think about how many hours you will actually be using a coworking space, especially if the cost is a major factor when deciding if coworking is right for you. Many freelancers and remote workers like having a coworking space as an option, rather than a full-time working location, so do not be compelled to commit to a full-time plan if you prefer to work from different locations during the week.
5. Location, location, location
Speaking of working from different locations during the week, a major key to finding coworking success is finding a location that not only is convenient, but also has professional benefits for you. Do not rush into choosing the closest coworking space to your house or apartment. Sometimes, a location a bit further away can have added benefits like being more convenient for clients to visit or being closer to transportation options. Some memberships allow you to work from multiple locations in their network, like KettleSpace and WeWork. This can be a great benefit if you like variety, or have work in multiple areas across the city.