[ The Money Side of Lifeā„¢ ]

Working Separately, Together

By Dana Neuts on April 23rd, 2014 •

The gig economy lets you freelance and work from home to your heart's content. The problem is that home can be distracting. Dogs! TV! Cozy couches! Some people need more discipline and structure, while others crave the creativity that bubbles up in a community of fellow professionals. A coworking environment combines the best of both worlds.

Coworking can take a variety of forms, ranging from informal space in cafes and coffee shops to more formal settings like an office building or co-op. The purpose, however, is typically the same--providing a common space for independent workers to work side by side where they can network, collaborate, and share resources.

Amanda Castleman, a travel writer from Seattle, has been self-employed since 2000. She worked full time out of her home office and on the road but was feeling isolated, so she started coworking with others in local cafes. A few years ago, she and a group of friends calling themselves Monkey Barrel Media moved to an office in the Ballard historic district, a Seattle neighborhood. She works out of that space two to three days a week.

"Traveling for work, I'm often immersed in chaos and people for 17-18 hours a day. So I'd return and just hermit up, which got unhealthy after a while," Castleman says. "I missed exchanging ideas and being connected to a community."

One of Castleman's office mates, Christian Silk, a graphic and web designer, moved into the space two years ago. He loves having a regular spot to work in and collaborate with others.

"I love coworking because it gives me a place out of the house where I can keep work stuff and, most importantly, gives me a place where I can see people on a regular basis," Silk says. "I spent six years pretty much working alone in my house and coffee shops and didn't really realize how much I missed seeing people on a regular basis. It has made a huge difference just in my general well-being and happiness. I feel a lot more balanced."

Writer, speaker, and social media consultant Robyn Davis Sekula, of New Albany, Ind. coworks at Quills, a coffee shop, three to four mornings a week, sharing space with a writer, teacher, computer programmer, and others. In addition to enjoying face time with other adults, members of the group encourage and support each other.

"Coworking provides the interaction that's often missing with freelancing," Sekula says. "We actually get a lot done and hold each other responsible to accomplish certain tasks. I work well with my friends."

Sources: deskmag.com