Rachael van Oudheusden, Enterprise Nation Adviser, Freelance Marketing & PR Consultant and Copywriter at Big Old House and member of coworking space, Works Social, has been self-employed for almost six years. Here she shares her thoughts on coworking and when it’s the right time to make the leap from a home office.
When is the right time to move into a coworking space?
There comes a time where you decide to ditch your corporate ‘9-5’ job. Maybe that’s due to a horrible boss, an inefficient or toxic work environment, you want to pursue a completely different path or you simply feel like, "gosh, I could do this wayyyyyy better". And most times, you're right.
So, you start a side gig, pour your passion into it and the income starts to outweigh your steady salary and you make take the leap. Congrats! You've done what most are afraid to do.
Freelance is more feasible than ever
A recent survey about freelancers from over 150 countries explores what being a freelancer really means and how “It’s estimated that freelancers will compromise roughly forty percent of the American Workforce by 2020.” So freelancing is more of a viable option now than it has ever been. With this comes both the freedom to be your own boss and manage your own workload, either from your back bedroom, an office at the bottom of the garden or occasionally a coffee shop.
How’s your self-discipline?
But, here you are now, sitting in your PJs, attempting to get work done at home, free and clear of acronym overload of SLAs, SOPs, RFIs and a manager breathing down your neck. You realise you need to integrate a bit of structure back into your life or you're going to fall down the rabbit hole of procrastination, Netflix and naps.
The stress of going it alone can quickly make you find out how far your self-discipline goes when tested. You could be struggling to keep yourself motivated in your own home to remain focused and stick to a work schedule. Knowing when to clock off can be tough too, as freelancing often involves multitasking and juggling several projects at once. After a few years of working from home, I suddenly lost my mojo and needed to refocus and push my productivity again.
A better work life balance?
• 27% of people said they now work even longer hours
• 21% work as many hours as before
• 36% said they regularly skip meals to keep on top of their workload
• 66% said stress means they frequently struggle to get to sleep.
• Self-employed workers found they typically find themselves ‘on duty’ for 13 hours a
day, looking at their first work email at 8:01am and their last at 8:55pm
Basically, although nobody likes a strict regime, unnecessary pressure or limitations being employed by someone else, the structure and routine can allow more healthy approach to the workload. For many, you clock in, you work, you go home and that’s where your work day ends and your free time begins.
Seeking structure and routine?
Some people find it easy to adapt this existing structure when they become self-employed, having the discipline to start and stop according to the routine and ‘switch off’, so they can properly recharge themselves for the next day’s work. Others may find this tricky and want to work for themselves but need a little motivation and structure.
Find your tribe
As a freelancer, it's integral to find a coworking space of like-minded people that can be your new headquarters. A place that not only forces you to put clean clothes on, but also one that invites you in to get work done and #dothething. As a business owner of 16+ years, the host of The Simplifiers Podcast and member of Works Social, Mary Baird-Wilcock knew early on that she needed to find a coworking space in order to survive and thrive as an entrepreneur:
“It's simple, really. It's structure, mixed with facilities and community... but on my terms. Plus, I'm an extrovert and let's face it, my cat is not a great conversationalist.”
When asked “when is the right time to move into a coworking space?”, Mary Baird-Wilcock added: “Immediately. Build it into your cash flow forecast as this is simply a cost of doing business. It'll create a space for you to build and scale your business. Find your people. Help you expand your mindset to think bigger and find creative brainstorming just a desk away.”
The statistics on coworking are promising and show many people of all specialties and situations have found that perfect middle ground for their work and would never go back. That’s where Works Social has been a revelation for me.
An ideal place for businesses to thrive
According The Entrepreneur, “Coworking spaces are proving to be economic engines that produce prosperity for owners, employees and service providers alike.” The most valuable thing people have found with coworking seems to be the sense of being part of the world again and knowing that although they’re running solo on their career, they’re also part of a community again and feel supported without feeling stifled.
Coworking advocate Richard McBurney, Designer & Director at Grand Creative Limited, adds: “A good coworking space provides a unique friendly, relaxed and professional environment with all facilities I need. Perfect for my design business to thrive.”
A study by Ergonomic Trends found that 82% of respondents reported that coworking has expanded their professional networks. A further 64% said their coworking networking was an important source of work and business referrals. And 83% reported that they are less lonely since joining a coworking space.
So, when is the right time to join a coworking space? All the signs seem to point to right now!