benefits of coworking

What Made A Travel Writer Open Up His Own Coworking Space

There are countless blogs and websites out there on the internet, which are dedicated to every imaginable approach to travel, and the most successful ones get paid to do what most of us spend months saving up for. While browsing through some of our favorite travel sites, we got in touch with one blogger who combined his love of the open road with coworking. If you are one of the lucky ones and travel is not only your passion, but also your main source of income, it is important to find a way to combine adventure with productivity. There are no guarantees when you are on the road, so finding a coworking space might be just the perfect solution.

Travel writer and founder of Nowhere Travel Stories, Porter Fox, spoke with Deskmag about his own experience traveling the world while using coworking spaces. In fact, Fox likes coworking so much he has recently launched his own space in New York City. 

As a travel writer, you have to embrace uncertainties while on the road. In many ways this can benefit one's writing. What are some of the challenges you face as a writer while on the road?

Porter Fox: I would say that uncertainty is one of the most exciting parts of travel. There are always challenges…where to sleep, where to eat, where to work. You get out of your world and into a foreign one. It is great for your writing because it's always easier to describe something foreign rather than something familiar. It is much easier to describe a place you've never been than the house you grew up in.

Before you set off on a trip, do you contact coworking spaces in your specific destination beforehand?

PF: I actually don't. I like to run into them as I go. I usually do so through friends, contacts, and strangers. Sometimes it is something informal; sometimes it's more structured. Predictability breeds tedium.

As a professional travel writer what does a coworking space give you that a coffee shop can't?

PF: People go to coworking spaces to get things done. It's always good to be around folks who are productive. In a coffee shop people can be catching, listening to music, anything… folks in a workspace are there in order to accomplish something. In the same way, if there are people in the space who are not working, they can also affect your productivity. The best scenario is to be around folks whose work you admire.

Do you have any specific examples of positive (or negative) experiences that you have had while coworking while traveling?

PF: I worked in one space with a wealthy guy who was in between jobs. He texted on his phone all day long, went out to a fancy lunch, came back and texted some more. His paintings were terrible, mostly because he never worked on them.  He sat right behind me and it was like a giant black hole sucking creativity out of me.

I would think that coworking might turn off some travel writers, because they might find it takes away from spontaneity. Do you agree with that?  

PF: Not really, because when you are a travel writer your work is walking around through the country. You simply need a place to sit down, be quiet and write at the end of the day. They say they you forget 80% of most detail within 48 hours so you need to get it down quickly...

Today, I think many find professional writing a daunting prospect. As things are changing drastically, I think people are afraid that journalism is no longer a lucrative field. Do you think that coworking can help aspiring bloggers and writers find a stable community, and ultimately succeed?  

PF: It helps because it's not just a coworking space, but also a collaborative space. Like-minded people are typically brought together there and you can benefit from that. I've worked for several folks that I shared space with it always goes very well.

Tell us bit about why you decided to open your own space?

PF: I've worked at coworking spaces in NYC for almost 15 years. I had a lot of ideas while I was working there so I decided to design exactly what I wanted. Outdoor workspace, garden plots, flex project space, kitchen/living room, event/teaching space, large communal area, wood-burning stove. It's going great... 

The interview was first published on Deskmag.

Why Starting Out in a Coworking Space is Good for Your Startup

Since the inception of coworking spaces in 2005 at Spiral Muse by Brad Neuberg, the practice has spread to major countries in Asia and Europe.

So, What was so Great About Coworking?

The emergence of a 'Coworking space' provided a great networking platform that balanced independence of self-employment with involvement in a community of working with others. This appealed to entrepreneurs and freelancers, leading to a widespread adoption.

According to an infographic released by Officevibe, 70% of coworkers felt healthier than they did while working in a traditional office setting.

Source:    officevibe.com

It also reported that 40% of workforce will be freelancers, temps, independent contractors, and solopreneurs by 2020. These findings signify the growth of a coworking culture in future.

Is Coworking a Great Idea for Startups?

Anthony Marinas, the sales and marketing manager at Grimes, puts it simply in 'The State of Coworking in 2015',  that people now want to be a part of a community and not a company.

Stressing on how coworking is a great option for most startups, Anthony further explains-

Instead of working with a team of 2-3 members, working in an environment surrounded by 100 people on a daily basis, gives you an opportunity to make a professional as well as personal connection.

This not only cuts down your office space budget but also opens up the possibility of bringing forth innovations with other like-minded people.

Coworking Space or Traditional Office Space: What is Right for You?

As Rebekah Kowalski, VP & Principal Consultant at Right Management shared her views in an interview for Centre for the Study of the Workplace. During the interview she said, to choose between a coworking space or a traditional office space, businesses need to evaluate their workforce and understand their employees’ needs.

To help you arrive at a decision, here are some questions that you should be asking yourself:

  1. What is your office culture and what do you want it to be?
  2. What is right for your workplace profile?
  3. What are you trying to achieve?
  4. Who are your talents and what are their needs?

However, if you prefer control over your work environment or crave for a personal space, a traditional office space is a better option for you.

When it comes to cash flow, coworking spaces become an attractive option as economy and resources are shared. Unlike traditional startup costs, like office furniture, Internet & telephone bills, utility & service charges, etc., in a coworking space, you are not required to spend a lot of cash upfront. It lets you focus on your growth.

In a story published at Nerd Wallet, Nick Clark, founder of The Common Desk, maintains that a business could save 75% in total costs in opting for a coworking space, making substantial savings over the years!

Various Benefits of Opting for a Coworking Space

1. Affordable Office Space in Prime Locations

For a small business, one of the biggest challenges is getting an office space in prime areas while they are still bootstrapping. Saving this trouble, coworking spaces provide affordable in-demand spaces, the types of offices and locations that you couldn’t otherwise afford to have.

Once you have chosen the place, you can get to the work right away as the amenities and utilities are already set up.

2. The Flexibility and Scalability for Startups

Another major benefit of opting for coworking is the flexibility of accommodating changes to the size of the team. Whether your business expands or contracts, you can easily upgrade or downgrade your space requirements anytime as needed without requiring a yearlong commitment from you.

In most coworking spaces, you can opt for a one-time pass, monthly, or yearly membership plan accordingly. You can also opt for a private office or an open coworking space.

It also gives you the flexibility to change your location as you please since your leasing terms are not binding.  

3. Collaboration: All in One Place

It gives you the opportunity to collaborate with a community of  talented people from different professions who you otherwise might have never necessarily interacted with. It provides an opportunity to trade skills to get a project done, or outsource projects to other teams when they are more specialized than you.

As Dodd Caldwell, founder of Loft Resumes and MoonClerk, explains in 'The Future of Coworking and Why it Will Give Your Business A Huge Edge,' sometimes it is as simple as tapping someone outside of your team on the shoulder and asking their opinion. Other times, it is catching a quick whiteboard sessions with other team(s).

Cutting to the chase, coworking gives you the opportunity to tackle and solve problems from a variety of angles.

How do You Know Which Coworking Space is Right for You?

With the boom in coworking spaces, you can choose one that focuses on a particular industry or varied ones. A focused space gives you the benefit of working with people who are thinking about the exact problem that you are thinking about and thus, leading to a greater productivity.

In a coworking space that is open to varied industries, you are surrounded by professionals coming from different backgrounds, where you get more ideas for running your business successfully. This diversity in turn promotes your creativity by giving you a perspective on things each time.

To find the right working space for you, here is a to-do list for you:

  • Make a list of things that you would like in your workplace and the things you would hate.
  • Visit the workspace and find out the things you like about it. Ask yourself if they will make you more productive.
  • Find out if their work culture fits yours. For example, if you are looking for a more focused space, then you should opt for one that has the flexibility of private work stations.
  • Find the coworking space that offers simple registration, billing and leasing terms. 

Most importantly, while you are short-listing coworking spaces to work in, remember to choose the one where members are complementary to each other and not competitive.

According to Deskmag’s annual Global Coworking Survey, 71% of professionals reported a boost in creativity since joining a coworking space, 62% in an improved work quality.

Therefore, if you are an entrepreneur with a small team seeking to lease a private office, you should consider leasing a coworking space before you sign the final contract.

Why Coworking Makes Sense - Tangible and Intangible Benefits

Do you remember how, a few years from now, the Indian metropolitan crowd faced and resisted the concept of shared cabs?

This concept involved sharing your taxi with other passengers, usually strangers, who were headed in the same direction. Initially, travelling with strangers was not a welcome experience. It meant stepping out of one’s comfort zone. So, if someone owned a car, he/ she would prefer using it over a shared cab.

After all, having to step outside of one’s comfort zone is a scary thing. Just as Neale Donald Walsch once said,

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Some early adopters stepped outside of their comfort zone to catch glimpse of life into shared cabs, and through word of mouth, this concept started selling like hot cakes. Today, it doesn’t make sense to people to hire individual cabs or buy a second one for occasional needs.

Similarly, it doesn’t make sense to rent a complete office if you happen to have a team of only five or even smaller and are just starting up. Further, what if you are a one-man-army or freelancing? Why rent an office or work at home when you can share an office and pay just for your workstation?

Cowork, that’s your answer. A fairly new concept of shared working spaces with independent individual activities going on. Like the shared cabs, you don't need to worry about the directions, getting the tank filled, or pumping the air in tyres or even drive. All you have to do is ride till your destination arrives. Similarly, in a coworking space you do not have to worry a bit about maintenance, electricity, or anything else. You have to arrive at your workstation and just work.

These coworking spaces are different from a typical office environment, and are generally shared by individuals coming from different organizations and professions. These professionals and individuals are mostly strangers to each other, initially, and pay a small fee for the facilities received at these shared spaces.

Coworking Spaces - Do we really need them?

One of the many factors that has led to the sprouting of coworking spaces is the multitude of youth populating the modern workplace. The workplace is more connected than it has ever been before. Employers too, have given ear to this connectivity and heightened amount of human interaction, and have recognized that these factors can actually help foster productivity and innovation.

Let’s talk Benefits

An increasing number of social media groups, WhatsApp groups, cafe meetings, startup meets and conferences, greater use of collaboration options like Slack, Asana, Trello, and such indicate how offices are moving out of the four walls and occupying spaces in places where people want to work at their own comfort and still not lose their motivation.

Trends like these have led us to believe that people are no longer interested in working with a small in-house teams or hiding behind tiny cubicles anymore, nor do they like anything coming in the way of their work, be it commuting or taking care of their offices. Simultaneously, they have an increasing urge to build new social connections with like-minded individuals.

Let us go ahead and see how a coworking space can serve this new breed of workaholic generation.

Freelancing Freely

Perhaps, some of us, as freelancers, are utterly productive and focused to be able to get up every morning and go into the work mode even while staying at home. Yet, the truth is that a majority of freelancers find the idea of working from home a challenging and unconducive way of getting things done. While at home, our mind tends to divert towards many other things, like the laundry, maybe the baby, the cooking, the cleaning, the nagging mothers, and so much more.

This is the reason why we see many freelancers flocking their surrounding coffee houses. But, that too does not save them from distraction as the guilt of taking up a seat for too long catches up on them. So, where can a freelancer go? A coworking office!

At a coworking space, all you get is focus. You can give undivided attention to your projects and not worry about a thing in the world. Having a workstation in a coworking environment is a luxury at a price of a penny. You have the comfort and flexibility of your work and work hours while enjoying the focus a regular workplace offers. Plus, no guilty feelings of occupying the seat for far too long.

And as a bundle deal, you get to expand your connections, learn from others, and bag more freelance projects.

Concentration, Collaboration, Creation

The problem with many individuals of the the new working generation today is that they want to work. However, to find a place where one can concentrate without being distracted, and execute what has been planned is a pain. This same crowd finds ‘working from home’ an isolating experience and their visit to the coffee shops, a distraction. Coworking space offers them the best of both worlds.

The best place to work is one where people are motivated and dedicated towards their work and believe in collaboration as a tool to amplify each other’s strengths. That is where coworking comes into picture.

In a coworking space, you are constantly surrounded by passionate, self-motivated individuals, which positively affects your motivation towards your work. According to a recent study,  coworking spaces have increased by 400 percent in the last two years because they provide community and collaboration which is a much emphasized aspect of working by the upcoming, forward thinking entrepreneurs.

Source:  fundable.com

Source: fundable.com

Real Life Social Networking

A great coworking space engages with its surrounding audience and external community. This space is not renowned because of the pre-existence of  some desks or free wi-fi. Coworking spaces are thriving communities of talented and self-confident people who come not only to work, but also to create real connections that can help them personally as well as professionally. The atmosphere is welcoming, interesting, and beneficial to one, because of the chance to be able to connect and meet with fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Coworking spaces attract myriad members from diversified backgrounds and industries and so, they promote innovation. According to Martin Ruef, a sociologist at Princeton, it was discovered that people who widened their list of contacts from small groups of familiar acquaintances to larger, more loosely-connected networks of people turned far more innovative than their counterparts.

And imagine going on a vacation with your small team of three. How fun would it be if you could team up with other teams, board a big bus and enjoy a hearty gang of guitarists, singers, dancers, card wizards, trekkers, chefs and photographers?! Cost sharing and happiness multiplying - doesn’t that sound fun?

Budget - “Wise”

On a serious note, coworking spaces ease the process of starting a business. Usually when a company is just at its doorstep, it has to focus on many factors like having to hire a workplace, maintaining the employee payroll, cost of facilities, and many more financial expenses which can rip your energies apart in directions that may not be beneficial for the business initially.

Moreover, if you are a startup and the head count of the employees is below five, then hiring a workplace would just be a waste of precious resources. In such cases, coworking spaces allow the opportunity to save up financially, taking into consideration the minimal fee a team has to pay in comparison to the cost of an individual office. Additionally, you get access to enough workspace and other added facilities such as the internet, snacks, drinks, and a lot more.

Again, not just because of the free amenities, the clear benefits of the space is the wealth of human resources present in that space. After all, as a founder of a company that is just at its grassroot level, what would your preference be?

Today, if we can use the  simplified and well devised web tools, a beautiful collaboration can be attained. This way, no one would require to book office spaces or rent residential apartments or work in garage while they are at a premature stage of their business.

Final thoughts

As the saying by Gordie Howe goes -

You’ve got to love what you are doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness, or all the aches and pain, and continue to play for a long time.

Enjoyment of our daily working culture can have a positive impact on work ethics, well‐being, and productivity. Coworking might be the buzz in India today, but it's sure a buzz for good.

The concept promises more than just the resources and a place to do business. It is a community, and a growing community at that. This is the future of how businesses are going to be carried out. Entrepreneur, startup, or freelancer - no matter who you are, coworking space is the perfect match for you.

Don't forget to tell us what you feel about this new concept in your comments below.

Till then enjoy the following infographic summarizing all the tangible and intangible benefits of choosing a oworking space over other arrangements. Have a look and make up your mind!