While some freelancers work in their client’s offices, many either work from home or rent a workspace of their own. In recent years, a third option, called coworking, has cropped up. Coworking allows telecommuters, freelancers and other business people to pool funds (normally in the form of rent or membership fees) to rent office space together.
Coworking has proved to be a successful alternative to working at home or a traditional office environment, largely because it allows people to reduce their expenses while enjoying human interaction. Sharing office space can also be a more sustainable way of doing business, as workers share resources that they might otherwise have to purchase and use on their own.
The Coworking Model
Each coworking organization runs differently, but a typical arrangement is for the owners or managers of a coworking business to buy or lease a large office and to rent out desks, or the use of desks, to members. Some coworking offices also provide amenities such as conference rooms, kitchens, broadband Internet connections and office machines such as copiers, printers and paper shredders.
Many freelancers choose coworking as a way of providing more structure to their workday as well as creating a work/life balance that’s hard to achieve when working at home. Freelancers also choose coworking as a way of making connections and having a place to meet clients. These spaces are also popular among telecommuters as well as field sales reps who often work away from their home office.
In addition to personal and professional benefits for freelancers, coworking can help freelancers cut down on their consumption patterns. Instead of paying for individual Internet connections, multiple print/fax/copy machines and ergonomic chairs, coworkers share the use of these items as well as the utilities used to heat and cool office space. Shared resources are not only more economical for individual coworkers, but they are a more efficient use of material resources.
Commuting to a coworking space, instead of walking across a living room to a home office, is one aspect of coworking that presents sustainability challenges. Managers of coworking spaces can address this by locating their sites near public transit. Freelancers interested in coworking should consider spaces that are close to home or near public transportation stops. Of course, finding a space within walking distance from home is the ideal, allowing freelancers to do double duty by getting exercise during their workday commute!
Coworking groups can play an important role in filling empty commercial properties that might otherwise be abandoned. Abandoned buildings can present serious public safety and environmental concerns for communities. When a coworking group or business incubator takes over a property, the property is maintained and cared for, protecting neighborhoods and the environment.
Are you a member of a coworking group? Do you think that it is a more sustainable option than working from home or renting a private office? Tell us about it in the comments.