How Coworking Can Help YOUR Business
While working for yourself can be one of the most rewarding career paths, working by yourself can carry a psychological burden, including accountability, decision fatigue and out-right loneliness. Getting out of your home office or the local café and joining a coworking space can help to ease the stress of entrepreneurship and benefit your bottom line.
Coworking spaces are shared, membership-based workspaces designed for freelancers, start-ups and small business owners to work together – sharing resources, creating a community and reducing operating costs.
But it’s about more than just physical space; coworking is a movement that is centered on a core set of shared values: community, openness, collaboration, accessibility and sustainability.
Lisa Durante, founder of Lisa Durante Int’l Inc., enjoys working from home but was drawn to coworking to connect with others who understood the unique challenges of entrepreneurship.
“I don’t know many entrepreneurs personally, so there aren’t many that can understand my challenges or fears let alone appreciate how small wins were so significant for me,” says Lisa. “Having a group of people who I can share this with and have them understand has been therapeutic.”
A recent study found that coworkers demonstrate higher levels of thriving than those who work in traditional corporate office settings. The level of autonomy over their own work, in addition to the ability to bring one's “whole self” to the workplace, boosts happiness among those that use coworking spaces.
The community aspect of coworking can also have a financial benefit – working among like-minded individuals can open up opportunities for partnerships and collaborations, and of course the potential to bring you new clients. For Cindy Wagman, President and CEO of The Good Partnership, connections and clients are the most valuable benefits of her coworking membership.
“I have met many great people to collaborate with and have new clients come through my time there,” Cindy says of her time at CSI, a coworking space geared towards social entrepreneurs.
If you’re interested in coworking a quick Google search can be overwhelming if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for or where you fit in. But that’s the beautiful thing about coworking – there’s a space and community for everyone.
Most coworking spaces offer the basics: wifi, printers and unlimited coffee, as well as flexible membership options that range from drop-in day passes to full-time monthly rates for dedicated desks or private offices. The real differences in coworking spaces lie in their niches and the benefits they bring to a specific community.
Work-at-home-parents will appreciate the on-site childcare at a space like Working Ensemble (the space owned and operated by the author of this article), while those on a mission to change the world might benefit from setting up shop at the Centre for Social Innovation. Writerly types will feel right at home at the Toronto Writers Centre. Women-only spaces are also on the rise, with four female-dedicated spaces in Toronto alone; Shecosystem, Women on the Move, Make Lemonade and Women’s Mecca all provide female-centric spaces, each with their own vibe.
The best way to know if a coworking space is the right fit for you? Try it out! Most spaces offer a complimentary trial. And if you’re the type that likes to work around, try out a coworking pass or visa that grants you access to a number of different spaces to see where you enjoy working best.
It’s tempting to look at a coworking membership as an unnecessary or lavish expense. But as Mike Morita from Seattle’s Office Nomads remarked at the 2017 Global Coworking Unconference Conference, “you go to a coworking space to become successful, not because you are successful.”
This certainly proved to be true for Amanda Laird, a freelance communications consultant and podcaster.
“My business really took off when I got out of my house and became a member of a coworking space,” she remarks. “Having a supportive community to cheer me on or to turn to when I was in a jam gave me the confidence to take bigger risks and go after what I really wanted.”
Not to mention, coworking memberships are a taxable business expense whereas the coffee you’re buying at your local cafe, is not.
If you’re looking to bring renewed energy and focus into your business in 2018, joining a coworking space could be the ticket.
Diane Chevalard is the founder of Working Ensemble, a Toronto-based family-friendly coworking space with on-site childcare.