Every year, more Americans are working away from traditional offices, instead heading to the local coffee shop, staying at home, or finding somewhere in between. According to the 2017 study, “Freelancing in America,” (FIA) 57.3 million people already work this way, and by 2027, they’ll be the majority. One of the biggest questions for freelancers and remote workers is where to work – that perfect space between the comfort of home and the convenience of the coffee shop.
The solution? The co-working space.
From coast to coast, co-working spaces are popping up all over big cities for anyone from remote employees to traveling salesmen. Companies have been trying to change the traditional office since the tech boom in the late 2000s, inspired by companies like Google, which offers things like nap pods and creative office space.
Now, this trend has expanded into businesses whose sole purpose is to provide a comfortable, reliable place for remote and freelance workers to get things done. In New York City, you can even do your work in fancy restaurants in the hours before they open for dinner. Before you head out to your first co-working space, like the Innovation Station in downtown Oklahoma City, check out these tips on what to do and — maybe more importantly — what not to do once you get there.
Every employee is different. Some like to share tables with others or enjoy a brief chat with nearby workers before settling in. Others need total isolation save for the sweet buzz of white noise in their headphones. Often, co-working spaces offer many miniature spaces within the larger area, so people can choose their experience. Before you get started, test out all the chairs and couches and figure out what works for you.
A co-working space isn’t a library, so you’re obviously welcome to make conversation or take a phone call. What’s not cool is doing either of those things so loudly that it’s impossible for anyone else to get their work done. Use your best judgment when talking, and if you know you’re a loud talker, maybe take the call outside.
With so many remote and freelance workers, co-working spaces can be a great place to meet new people and get acquainted with strangers, especially if you routinely go to the same place. It may sound like a cliché, but you truly never know what — or who — will be the bridge to your next new contract, assignment, or full-time job. Being the modern professional you are, you likely already have your resume, cover letter, and/or portfolio ready to go in case opportunity comes knocking. If not, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
While networking isn’t a bad idea, think before chatting up someone you meet at a co-working space. Even if they’re not engaged in their work, there’s a good chance that they, like you, need to get things done. If someone is typing away at the keyboard with a furrowed brow and noise-canceling headphones, it’s safe to say they’re in the zone and do not want to be disturbed.
DO: Practice Good Hygiene
This is just a good tip for life, but if you’ve been working from home, this may be a good chance to step up your normal routine. It’s always a good idea to do a mental check before heading out to a co-working space. Unlike many offices, co-working spaces are more open, which means if you forget to brush your teeth or put on deodorant, it’s much easier for people to notice. This is especially important if you’re planning to network while you’re there.
Practicing good hygiene can be a double-edged sword, especially in a shared area. There’s plenty of room at co-working spaces to spread out, but if you wear strong cologne or perfume every day, it might be a good idea to tone it down. Find that perfect middle ground, and you’ll be ready to go.
Most co-working spaces offer a world of amenities, often beyond just pens and paper. For example, the Innovation Station offers an on-site ATM, charging stations, a Shred-It document service, and even a kitchenette. There’s also printing, scanning, and copying. Plus, there’s an office available on a first come, first served basis for phone and conference calls. Make sure to take advantage of all these and more.
We’ve all had those days. The printer stops working, your stapler gets jammed. Luckily, unlike when you work at home, co-working spaces have solutions on-hand to answer questions and fix anything that isn’t functioning properly. Instead of smashing said printer or throwing the stapler out the window, you can just let someone know, and they’ll be there to help.
Like going to the gym, the first time is the hardest. It can be scary to walk into a new place and make it your new home office. However, if you’re a remote worker who struggles to find a good place to work, a co-working space might be perfect for you. With a plethora of tools to help you get things done and plenty of diverse seating for everyone, it’s the best way to work away from the office.
Contact us, or stop by the Innovation Station downtown if you’re ready to try out a co-working space. Remember, your first visit is always free!