Posted: Mon 13th May 2013
Co-working -Â working independently in shared spaces -Â is becoming more popular as tech enables us to become more independent by operating wherever, whenever. Blogger and 'digital nomad' George Lewington looks at the pros, cons and opportunities available in our growing culture of co-working.
Whether you are a new small business or a lone freelancer, it's essential to maximise your productivity, absorb new ideas and network as much as is humanly possible,Â writes George (left). For these reasons co-working has brought many out of the traditional company office or home office and into shared space. As businesses gear towards a more dynamic Â´knowledge economyÂ´, new working methods must replace old in what are difficult economic times_._
A response to change Employment prospects are not what they once were: Gone are the days when when a university degree guaranteed an entry level job with a nice salary, or the possibility of a lifelong job with the same firm. Britain may well be halfway through a 'lost decade' or worse. But for entrepreneurs, standing still is not an option -Â Â savvy individuals are now making their own jobs, often as freelancers in the creative or tech industries. But where is the best place to do this?Â For many, coworking centers are becoming the preferred choice. The reasons behind this shift are clear.
"The importance of being surrounded by the right people cannot be overstated.Â Knowledge can be traded freely, ideas and creativity nurtured in the right environment."
The importance of being surrounded by the right people cannot be overstated. It's the reason entrepreneurs join small business associations, or tech companies choose to share the same streets. Knowledge can be traded much more freely, ideas and creativity can be nurtured in the right environment. For someone working in a wide industry, It makes sense to be near others who might have a specialist skills. Borrowing 30 minutes of your friend's time on a particular issue can be the best way push forward a start-up in its early stages.Â One survey found that 86 per cent of people surveyed in co-working centres said their personal and business circles have increased. This is invariably a good thing.
It's low cost and flexible
Perhaps the biggest attraction of co-working is that it requires minimal investment. Many centres offer pay-as-you-go or monthly contracts. This fits in well with the early stages of a business start-up; keeping overheads low in the beginning is always a priority and expensive leases are generally best left avoided. For individuals who work between cities or countries, co-working is an obvious solution for getting a desk wherever you are. Many of the large office providers cater to this demand with centres all over the globe - so it suits the Â´digital nomadÂ´ lifestyle.
"For individuals working between cities or countries, co-working is a solution for getting a desk wherever you are. It suits the 'digital nomad' lifestyle."
What are the alternatives?
The home office is a free and easy option. The drawbacks are that it can be socially isolating and does not encourage motivational energy. Networking possibilities are limited to delivery men and it's easy to slÃ¬p into too-regular snack and Facebook breaks. Coffee shops, too, are not a real solution. They are dependent on the regular purchase of coffee and aren't suited to long shifts. Whereas, renting a separate office has obvious benefits, it's inflexible and often too expensive for small groups of people.
So what should an entrepreneur take from this?
Obviously, co-working doesn't make sense for every business or individual. Most firms need the privacy and consistency of a separate dedicated space. For bigger organisations, too, the cost of maintaining an office is much less of an impact. A piece of advice to any entrepreneur would be to try it out. It is normally possible to have a free trial day and come to your own conclusions. George Lewington is a nomadic blogger writing on the future of work, marketing and business issues. He is currently working for Regus in Dubai and planning to travel to the Middle East to conduct business.
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