For me, one of the best parts about being a freelancer is that I can work from home.
No commute on overcrowded and overpriced public transport. No office that makes you feel trapped and gives you a migraine because the lighting is way too bright.
You can take a break whenever you need one and work around other events and commitments, something which I’m trying to take full advantage of this year.
Which is why I’ve never really seen the appeal to co-working spaces.
However I actually have access to one as part of my master’s course, so I decided to take advantage of it and try using it for a few weeks.
I wanted to see if there were any perks to working in one, and if it would be something I’d want to invest in in the long term.
In all honesty, the short answer is no.
While there are some perks to using one, they wouldn’t outweigh the downsides that a co-working space would cost me.
For me personally, travelling into the co-working space at uni isn’t really practical.
I don’t live nearby and having to commute in for lessons, which not only costs a fair bit of money (especially if it’s at peak time) but because I only have one train every half an hour, I constantly have to be watching the clock to make sure I don’t miss it.
It’s not bad if I have a lesson that day, but if not it costs me extra to go in on the other days.
Also on bad mental health days, leaving the house is difficult so I’d either end up feeling guilty because I hadn’t been able to go in or pressure myself to go in and end up making myself feel even worse.
Plus I’d have to bring my laptop and notebooks in with me so I could work, which is actually pretty heavy.
Especially when you’re walking up a big hill to the train station!
On top of that, I’ve found that it can really trigger my imposter syndrome.
I see all these other people running their businesses, working on amazing projects, having meetings and conference calls and it makes me feel like I’m not a “real” business owner because I’m not doing those things too.
Even though I know that’s just my anxiety talking, it can still have a really negative effect on my confidence and motivation some days.
However, there are some benefits to having a co-working space…
This is a necessity when you’re a freelancer, and something I’ve actually been having problems with at home.
We recently switched to Virgin Media because we were fed up of the horrendous service we were getting from TalkTalk, only for it to not work every other week.
I’m hoping this won’t be a long term problem.
They’re installing fibre in our area at the moment (which is one of the main reasons we switched) so teething problems are to be expected at first.
The only problem is that I rely on the internet for my business and if it goes down, it drastically affects my business.
So one of the main perks to using the co-working space was that I knew I would always have fast, reliable internet.
Not going to lie, this was a lifesaver when our internet at home when down for 13 days!
I have two different moods; one where I’m super productive and can write 5 posts, two ebooks and take a ton of photos all in one day.
The other is where I’ll maybe get half a post drafted out, edit a handful of photos and spend the rest of the time binge-watching something on Netflix.
Luckily the latter isn’t something that happens very often, but working in a co-working space means that I don’t have anything around to distract me.
Motivation and Productivity Boost
This ties in with the previous point, but I did notice that on some days using the co-working space would actually give me a boost in productivity and motivation.
Because I’d gone to the effort of getting ready and travelling into uni specifically to work, my mind was set in “work mode” rather than a more generalised mindset.
When I’m at home I end up getting distracted when I suddenly remember my wash basket is full and I’ve run out of clean jeans!
It Gets You Out Of The House
Many freelancers struggle with feeling lonely, especially when working from home.
So going into a co-working space can really help with that.
Just being around other people can help combat isolation, and being in that kind of environment makes it easier than normal to start a conversation with strangers – even for a self-confessed introvert like me!
Personally I don’t struggle with feeling lonely.
I actually love being on my own and it can take weeks for me to feel the need to socialise with someone other than my parents and Chris.
However, I’ve found that talking through my ideas and plan to other people can have a really positive effect; both on my confidence and my motivation levels.
Plus there have been times I’ve been talking to a fellow freelancer and something they’ve said has triggered a thought or idea!
Have you ever used a co-working space? Did you find it helpful for your business?