The dream of freelancing is awesome. You become your own boss, you spend all day sipping lattes in charming cafes, take business calls in your pajamas, start your day at whatever time you want, you're never late for work, and you don't have to ask anyone for permission to take a holiday. Simply put, you are the master of your domain and can do whatever you want.
As a result, it's no surprise that freelancers account for almost a third of the working-age population in the EU and the USA. On top of that, we're seeing a new movement taking place that reshapes the way in which people earn their money even further - the gig economy. This form of work is based on people taking on multiple smaller jobs instead of having one employer. As more people are looking to become more independent and choose their own projects, it makes sense that employment in the gig economy is actually growing at a much faster rate than traditional labor. Clearly, freelancers are going to take over the world! Well maybe not, but they'll keep challenging traditional labor in the future.
However, once you actually become a freelancer and a couple of months go by, the "honeymoon phase" eventually comes to an end. At this point, you'll start noticing some of the downsides of freelancing: Loneliness can creep in, productivity levels may decline, personal care might regress, and finding the motivation to work can become a formidable challenge.
Luckily, there is a perfect solution to get the best of both worlds - coworking! In fact, coworking doesn't just help you to make your business run better, it can also improve your quality of life. That's probably why coworking has become so popular all over the world and why new shared workspaces are popping up in your city.
So let's take a look at exactly how coworking helps raise the quality of life of freelance professionals.
To most 9-to-5ers, working from home sounds like a dream. We picture ourselves having more time to relax in the morning without a commute, sipping our coffee on the terrace, and reading the newspaper before cracking open our laptops. However, going through each day without any real social interaction leaves a lot of freelancers feeling isolated. In fact, many self-employed people cite loneliness as one of the biggest downsides of working from home. Coworking overcomes this issue as you’ll have a small talk in the elevator, a brief conversation when filling up your coffee, you’ll share a few jokes over happy hour, and, of course, you won’t have to eat lunch all by yourself anymore.
Additionally, you'll be joining a community of likeminded individuals that can support you when needed. Be it a good insider tip, a piece of advice, or a quick crash course on their business field, they'll be happy to help you. The bottom line is that you'll have friends to back you up or simply to have a chat with, as they also understand the challenges of finding a balanced life while self-employed. That's also exactly the main reason why choosing the right coworking space is so important.
Besides enjoying the company of great colleagues, coworking also enables you to leverage the power of networks. Are you looking for a reliable lawyer to help you get a visa extension, do you need a good dentist that speaks English, or do you require a trustful local accountant to help you with finances and administration of your business? Your coworkers might know and recommend someone that they've successfully worked with before.
But it doesn't stop there. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of coworking is the instant and exponential growth of your professional network. From the moment your new coworking colleagues learn your area of expertise, they might have a friend or contact who could be in need of your services. Obviously, new contacts lead to new business and more money, which in turn provides even more financial security and confidence in your decision to strike off on your own.
As most artists can tell you, leaving your fortress "home" and getting out in the real world is critical for jumpstarting your creativity. After all, in order to think "outside the box," you should first get "outside of your comfort zone". As you walk, bike, drive or take a metro to your coworking space, you'll see new faces, landscapes, buildings, and local artwork to inspire you. You'll also be more alert and aware of what's happening in the world around you, which trends are developing in your community, what people are talking about, or even what the weather's like.
On top of that, most coworking offices feature several different community spaces and little reading books to switch up your daily routine. If you're stuck writing your next article, then move to the lounge. Can't think of a great design, then take your laptop outside on the terrace. Have you hit the wall in plotting your next advertising campaign, then take a seat in the shared cafe and bounce your copywriting off people getting coffee.
All of these real experiences of diversity and new impressions are fertile grounds for your next breakthrough idea to satisfy your existing customers, take your business to the next level, and land your next client. Of course, it also makes your life more exciting than staring at the same white wall in your living room all the time.
Several studies show that coworking is more productive than working in a traditional office space and the same applies for working from home. Yes, we might save an hour of commuting to and from the coworking space, but getting things done at home is much more difficult than in shared space. Why is that? Well, at home we have more distractions: the TV, the fridge, the noisy neighbors who are renovating their flat, their dog that doesn't stop barking, the delivery guy who brings us those new headphones we ordered on Amazon yesterday while we were supposed to be working, and so on.
Furthermore, because staying home is more convenient and we don't have any "social pressures" forcing us to work, we multitask by doing the laundry, unloading the dishwasher, or baking a frozen pizza in the oven while also trying to work. Obviously, all these little things on their own don't cost too much time but grouped together, they accumulate into a significant productivity loss canceling out any benefits from skipping the commute.
But why is productivity important for quality of life? Well, getting your job done in 8 hours instead of 12 hours will give you more free time to meet friends, work out, or relax. It also means you can get take on more projects in the same amount of time, which will boost your income. Finally, joining a coworking space will help you'll establish clear boundaries of home and work life. You'll start to associate home with relaxation and fun instead of work, which will make you enjoy your time there much more.
There are two types of freelancers, those who thrive all on their own, and those who need a stimulating environment and social norms to keep them going. If you can discover some signs of the latter in your personality, coworking will help you both professionally and personally. By actually having to go outside each day and be around people, you'll have more motivation to put on your fine trousers and shirt, comb your hair and brush your teeth every day instead of taking business calls in your tracksuit while sitting on your couch and checking Facebook.
Yes, you might have to say goodbye to taking a nap and watching the latest Game of Thrones episode during lunch, but your body will benefit greatly from having a healthy regular routine and moving around more. Who knows, maybe you'll find an "accountability buddy" with whom you'll enjoy working out with to stay in shape.
Possibly the most underestimated advantage of coworking is that it greatly boosts your personal development and career growth. As you'll be surrounded by high-energy and smart people, you'll be motivated to become more proactive in developing your skills as well. And that's much easier when you're in a coworking space too.
Most coworking spaces moonlight as unique venues for organizing events with great guest speakers, workshops on the latest trends, and after-work networking opportunities where you discover best practices from your colleagues. By joining your local coworking community, you'll find plenty of opportunities to extend your skills and become even better in your professional field.