When you’re starting your own business, its very tempting to try and save money on overheads and other seemingly un-necessary expenses and turn your home into your office. There’s certainly a lot of appeal in the idea of home comforts naught but two steps away from your desk, but that may not be the whole story.
It doesn’t take a business mind with the strength of Jobs, Gates, or Branson to see that since coworking spaces are more popular than ever, maybe the saving you make by putting your bedroom next to your boardroom is something of a false economy. Of course, a popular notion doesn’t make it right or true, but it may at least make it worth investigating. Before you dismiss the idea of coworking spaces out of hand, consider these five big advantages to sharing a space with other small business operators.
One – Separate Work from Home
There is something powerfully relaxing, re-energising, and deeply invigorating about leaving your office at an appointed time, travelling back home, and knowing that all the tasks of the day have been put behind you to be dealt with properly again tomorrow. By leaving your workplace but a single room away, responsibilities tend to creep through cracks in the door frame. After all, if you can just take but a two-step journey to reply to an email or edit that most recent report, it seems irresponsible to leave it alone? That might be how it starts, but if you aren’t careful you can end up with hour after hour of what should be your “free” time dedicated to working, and you end up burning yourself out. If your work is in a locked building at night, at least fifteen minutes’ drive from your house, it can wait.
Two – Take Work More Seriously
There is of course something endlessly entertaining about the notion that if you are going to a business meeting on Skype, then if you’re careful and strategic about it – technically you only need to wear the upper portion of your suit. But casual weekdays and pyjama party Fridays do come at a serious long-term cost, aside from issues connected to personal hygiene. Work attire puts you in the mind of the job ahead. It resets your whole perspective and tells your subconscious that you are setting out into the world with a specific purpose in mind. That kind of focus and clearness of task can really dramatically improve your productivity, and its those kinds of improvements than can be make or break when it comes to a start-up or small business. Having to go out, having a specific place that is specially for work, can only build on that kind of work-effort spike.
Three – Save Money on Comfortable Extras
In many spaces for co-working you don’t pay extra for perks that keep you powered through the day. A well-stocked fridge, a nicely displayed selection of fruits and healthy snacks and a coffee machine; these all keep you going, but you might just think “surely I can just go to a local café/supermarket?” and while you can, because a coworking space is buying all these delicious energy giving treats in bulk, they get far better deals than you ever could, and so offer them all much cheaper. Café and supermarket supply runs can mount up costs over time. With a co-working space, that is all upfront and known cost. You can pre-budget much more easily.
Four – Make some new friends
If you are literally intending to spend every single second at the computer screen, then perhaps the benefit of a co-working space may be lessened, but most of us will want to get up, stretch our legs, and generally take a break once every few hours. When you do this, you’re going to bump into likeminded people in the same place. People who know the struggle, the challenge, the joy and sorrow of the small business owner. Being in this kind of environment will help you make new ‘real-life’ friends, something that can be increasingly difficult in this ever more online focused world. Not only will this let you have more of a life as opposed to just a ‘living’, it will also give you opportunities to bounce ideas off people, get alternative perspectives, and maybe learn something new that could be extremely valuable.
Five – Travel the world
If you work in a sector where you could put your office as easily in one internet connected coworking space as you could in any other, then the exact location of that office doesn’t really matter. If you can set up systems solutions just as well from Shoreditch, Southampton, or Singapore, and your copywriting prowess shines equally bright from Canterbury, Cirencester, or Chongqing, you have a tremendous chance to take your show on the road.
The small business world can be a lonely, isolating, and difficult place. In a coworking space, you might still be something of a one man band, but at least you and a troop of other entrepreneurs have the chance to be alone together.