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Home Office Getting Lonely? Join the Coworking Boom!

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An estimated one billion people worldwide, roughly a third of the global workforce, are either independent contractors, part of a small business/startup or remote working employees.  After leaving the traditional office environment, independents are faced with the question of where they will work.  Depending on the contract they may provide services directly at the client’s site, but many times contractors will choose to work from their homes.  Home offices can provide a comfortable environment and add little cost to your business expenses.  But working from home has its drawbacks.  The isolation and/or distractions of a home office have lead many independents to participate in the quickly growing trend of collaborative working environments, called Coworking.

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Coworking happens when a group of independent contractors work on their various tasks in a shared workspace, universally called a coworking space. Coworking got its start in San Francisco in 2006 and has grown to about 800 shared workspaces in the United States alone.  A recent report from DeskWanted.com, an online portal for finding shared workspace, revealed an 89% increase in the number of shared workspaces worldwide in the past year (Feb ’12-Feb ’13).  For independents, this new way of working continues to gain momentum as many participants report that their coworking experience increases their productivity, fuels creativity and gives them a stronger sense of achievement.

Benefits of Coworking

A coworking arrangement offers many benefits from an office space to focus on your work to a social environment where you can exchange ideas and insights with other contractors.  Among other contractors in your community, you can quickly gain referrals and expand your professional network.  The typical coworking center offers the standard office services, including desk space, meeting rooms, wireless internet, printer/copier, and in many cases the use of an on-site kitchen.  The uniqueness of coworking spaces makes them an attractive work environment to many independent contractors.

From a financial standpoint the costs of coworking are generally reasonable.  Deskwanted.com reports the average desk rental at around $240 per month.  Daily rates are also available at most centers and discounts may be offered during evening hours or for long term contracts.  The coworking option is significantly less expensive than the cost of rent, utilities and office equipment at a private office.

Many contractors facing the social isolation of a home office see coworking as a way to simply get out of the house and spend time alongside other independents, while maintaining a fully equipped work space to get the job done.  After speaking with some IProfessional members who have participated in coworking spaces for more than a year, it was clear the majority saw the biggest benefit to be the valuable professional networks they build, which keeps them going back to coworking month after month.

To find a coworking space near you check out online directories at ShareDesk.net or DeskWanted.com.

Have you participated in a coworking space?  Tell us about your experience by posting a comment.

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