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Today’s post is from Scott Nesbitt. Based in Toronto, Canada, Scott is a workshifter and writer of various things. He maintains a blog devoted to freelance writing at http://weblog.scottnesbitt.net

coworking.jpgThe essence of workshifting is being small, mobile, and self contained — the ability to work anywhere there’s a table and wifi. Sometimes, though, working out of a coffee shop or a public library or your home office loses its luster. 

There might be too many distractions. You might fall prey to the loneliness of the solo workshifter. You might need a more structured environment in which to work. Whatever your reasons, you just need to go somewhere else for a little while.

But renting an office, especially if you’re only going to use it a few times a week, can be expensive. Instead, consider a more affordable and flexible alternative: a coworking space.  

A coworking space?
Imagine an open-concept workspace that’s made up of floating desks. Instead of being populated by the staff of a cutting-edge startup, the space is used by independents and freelancers of all stripes. They use the place at any hour, and as frequently (or not) as they like.

That’s the idea behind coworking. It’s been described as starting with a shared office and adding cafe culture. Coworking goes beyond simply sharing an office. It also offers the opportunity to mix with professionals who share your interests and values. 

Coworking isn’t a new concept; the idea has been around since the dot-com days. But with more and more Internet-based workers and workshifters out there, coworking spaces aimed at them have started popping up in major cities.

Why a coworking space?
There are a number of reasons. Using a coworking space is less expensive than renting an office. Depending on the space, you could be paying anywhere from under $100 to around $300 a month. Try finding decent office space that cheap!

Workshifting can be lonely — even with email, Skype, and instant messaging. With a coworking space, you get the kind of positive vibe you’d find in a regular office. But you don’t get everything else that goes with working in an office. And there are opportunities galore for collaboration and networking.

On a slightly more practical note, a coworking space gives you a slightly more professional location where you can meet with clients. Many coworking spaces can also act as your company’s mailing address. No worries about missing the delivery of that package or registered letter that would normally come to your home.
 
If you’re a workshifter who frequently travels, then coworking can be a good option. Assuming you’re in a city with one or more coworking spaces, you can often use a coworking space by the day. It can cost you anywhere from $25 and up. A number of coworking spaces offer a coworking visa. The visa allows you to use a space in another city free of charge or for a nominal fee.

What should you look for?
Here are the basics that you should look for in a coworking space:

  • Price: Ideally, my price range is between $100 and $300 a month.
  • Flexible plans: Not all workshifters will use a space every day. Look for a space that offers packages that give you a set number of hours of use per month.
  • Wifi: Something no workshifter can live or work without.
  • Facilities: In addition to having enough desks, a good coworking space should have meeting rooms, equipment that you can borrow or rent, a basic kitchen, and good security.

Where to find more information
The best place to find information about coworking and coworking spaces around the world is the coworking wiki hosted at PBWorks. If you use Google Wave, there’s a wave devoted to coworking, and there’s also a Google group and a group on LinkedIn. The Coworking Community Blog posts news and information about coworking spaces.  

And don’t count out other workshifters you might know. Ask around. You’ll be surprised at what you find out.

Do you use, or have you used, a coworking space? What are your thoughts?

Photo Credit: BrianR

  • http://workbarboston.com Evona Niewiadomska

    I work at WorkBar a coworking space in Boston and my favorite part of the coworking community here and shared office concept is how open and willing people are to discuss issues, and answer questions other members of the community have. Having people from all different backgrounds and skill sets working here is a great resource for everyone. Often people will ask a question aloud to the community around them and immediately get feedback, sometimes starting a conversation about the topic, if its a particularly interesting one.
    Another great aspect of working at a coworking space is the networking opportunities that exists in the community of people you work with. On several occasions people have exchanged business services and worked together on projects… creating business for each other without ever having to leave the office.

  • http://twitter.com/LongbranchCW Longbranch Coworking

    We are a new coworking facility in West Toronto, the town of the author Scott Nesbitt. Please feel free to check us out at http://www.Longbranchcoworking.com or our blog http://www.coworkingTO.com.