Maybe you need a co-working office?

Everything “co” seems to be hot these days (co-living, car sharing, and so on), and after working in a “co” office for three years, I thought I’d share some thoughts and tips.

About three years ago, after 10 years of working from home, I hit the wall. My daughter (the main reason I started working from home in the first place) had started middle school, many of my friends who used to work part-time or not at all had gone back to full-time work, and I was unhappy and not getting a lot done during the day. Go out into the kitchen to get a drink of water…only to be confronted by a heap of dirty dishes. Get an e-mail asking if I could chaperone the school field trip…and end up feeling guilty about having to work instead. So, I decided that the problem wasn’t working from home, it was me plus working from home, so something had to change.

Three years in, my three-word summary is: I love it. I really don’t plan to ever work from home again on a permanent basis, although I do work primarily from home in the summers when my daughter is out of school. My income has gone up a lot; I gave myself a parameter that I had to make up the office rent in increased income and I exceed that goal, and I find that I’m much more able to focus on work when I’m at work. I’m much happier with my work situation, and I also find that when I get home, I’m much more able to focus on things other than work, which I had a very hard time doing before.

For my first two and a half years of co-working, I worked in an office in a historic school building, where the other co-workers were mostly middle-aged word nerds. When that office closed, I moved to a new office which has more of a tech/startup vibe and I’m one of the oldest people there, but I like both offices in their own way. At the first office I paid $350 a month and at the new office I pay $330, which includes my own desk, coffee, meeting space, etc. I leave my large monitor, full-size keyboard, etc. at the office and carry my laptop back and forth on my bike. The office also has a printer, copier, etc. so I’m pretty much set in terms of office equipment.

The only main caveat I would give is that working in a co-working office requires either a fairly high ambient noise tolerance or a willingness to wear headphones a lot (I alternate between the two). People are on the phone, or chatting, or whatever…there just always seems to be some kind of conversation going on. I find that kind of enjoyable, but it’s something to think about.

I’ve also heard from readers who want to try co-working but can’t find an office near them. The easiest option would be to just DIY: go work from a cafe or the library when you need to get out of the house. Another interesting option would be to form some kind of co-working club: get a couple of freelancers (or 20 freelancers…whatever!) together and meet up to work together. One day a week, or one day a month, or whenever you want; meet at the library or a cafe, or someone’s house, or a space like a church basement that you could use inexpensively.

Also, don’t discount the option of co-working on the road. Last summer my daughter did a day camp in Denver, which is about a 40 minute drive from our house. I couldn’t get excited about the idea of either doing two round trips a day, or camping out in a cafe for 7 hours, so I rented a desk for a week at Creative Density, a really fun co-working space in Denver (and they separate their rooms by noise level…yay!). So that’s an interesting option too!

14 Responses to “Maybe you need a co-working office?”
  1. Alison Penfold AITI May 19, 2016
    • Corinne McKay May 24, 2016
  2. bzayas May 20, 2016
    • Corinne McKay May 24, 2016
  3. hannahtkeet May 20, 2016
  4. Hilary Higgins May 20, 2016
    • Corinne McKay May 24, 2016
  5. Fuad Taghizade May 23, 2016
  6. Maryam Abdi June 2, 2016
  7. Sarah June 8, 2016
  8. Alyssa Yorgan June 12, 2016
  9. Oliver Lawrence June 13, 2016
  10. Tapani July 22, 2016

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