Freelancing in isolation can lead to depression, loneliness, a decrease in productivity, and a host of other issues. How does coworking help to solve this fundamental drawback?
Humans are inherently social creatures. We thrive when placed in communities, when we feel a sense of belonging. Traditionally, working within an organization has been a primary way for people to feel engaged, but that hub has changed with the growing freelance economy. More than one third of the U.S. workforce is freelancing, with the opportunity and autonomy that independence can bring.
This freedom, however, can also come with a price.
When we strip our day-to-day of social interactions with coworkers, we’re depriving ourselves of a fundamental basic human instinct: connection. Even when we maintain these types of relationships digitally, we lose some of the social cues and spontaneity of social interactions found when a group shares the same physical environment. This in turn can have severely detrimental effects for us as individuals. One such example: Psychology Today found that social isolation is a major contributor to depression.
One of the most incredible resources for struggling freelancers is the boom of the coworking movement. As the leading provider of on-demand coworking spaces, ShareDesk has seen firsthand the ways that coworking can impact freelancers’ lives. Coworking solves for many problems facing freelancers and other types of solopreneurs, most of which come back to that ever-important component of social interaction.
When DeskMag asked individuals what had changed for them since transitioning to coworking, 92 percent shared it had increased their social circle and 86 percent said they felt less isolated. In fact, there’s a whole host of positive mental and physical health benefits associated with coworking. It’s a movement built to serve a direct need, which accounts for why coworking has grown in popularity right alongside the freelance movement.
Here are six ways coworking helps make the work of a freelancer a little less lonely.
1. BELONGING TO A COMMUNITY OF LIKE-MINDED INDIVIDUALS
The community element of a coworking space is the true magical element of the movement. Being a part of a community reminds self-employed individuals that their struggles are shared. It gives them a plethora of “coworkers” with whom they can vent and trade tips. Together, a group of coworking freelancers naturally forms a mutually beneficial support system.
2. Having a professional, quiet space for client meetings
How do freelancers make money? Through building relationships with their clients. How do they build these relationships? Meetings, meetings, meetings. Some freelancers are able to maintain their communication with clients through email, but many find benefits to meeting with clients, whether in person or via a video call.
In the days before video calls, fielding client calls from home posed no problem. Now that clients can often see where a freelancer is getting their work done, having access to a clean, quiet room can help foster a more professional reputation.
Coworking spaces offer freelancers a great way to host professional meetings with clients. If they’re in the practice of bringing clients into their coworking space, it also offers freelancers a chance to showcase the strength of their professional network. This can help increase confidence and trust between freelancer and client.
Whether you’re looking for an alternative to a noisy, crowded coffee shop or your messy, unkempt living room, meeting rooms within a coworking environment can help put your best foot forward.
3. SOCIAL EVENTS
Most coworking spaces host many kinds of events, from lunch and learns to happy hour. Events are a great way to make connections with new members of your coworking space. Attending can arm you with new knowledge which helps you advance professionally. It’s a great way to connect with your fellow coworkers, too. Connecting in a social setting also helps eliminate worries that you’re interrupting a fellow coworker’s workflow.
Frequently, coworking spaces host events that are open to members as well as the public. Because of this, events can also be great ways to build connections with potential clients. If your business model includes workshops or seminars, partnering with a coworking space can help expand your net of prospective clients.
4. Client referrals
The social benefits of coworking dovetail with improving your profitability as a freelancer. Working out of a coworking space gives you the chance to form relationships with other freelancers. If you’re lucky, these freelancers might even field similar types of clients.
For many, freelancing often operates on a “feast or famine” pendulum. Someone with a large roster of clients might find they have too much on their plate from time to time. In this situation, freelancers often look for a trusted referral partner.
5. Coworking can help you be more social outside of work
It seems obvious that coworking would help you be more social while working. But according to Huffington Post, 91 percent of coworking space members have better interactions overall. The coworking environment allows members to practice the art of starting up conversations with strangers and also exposes them to the benefits of connecting with others. This makes it easier for them to carry over this newfound skill into their everyday life.
Coworking spaces are the perfect working environment for freelancers. They can build a routine of their own design. They can choose to surround themselves with a group of “coworkers” they love. Above all, they can enjoy the benefits of self-employment without the drawbacks of professional isolation.
6. Creating better work/life balance
A common issue for freelancers is an inability to separate from their work. As a self-employed individual who works from home, it’s easy to feel that there are no boundaries between work life and home life. They often work across multiple time zones, or feel compelled to make themselves available to clients at all hours.
The impact of this can be serious. A Dutch study measured the effects of workaholism on perceived health (e.g., exhaustion, physical complaints, and feelings of professional efficacy). They found the inability to detach from work—a component of workaholism—directly contributed to negative health effects.
Many love coworking spaces because it allows them to have a physical space dedicated to work, one they can remove themselves from at the end of the day. It helps them leave their work at work, so they can be more present and engaged with their family and other fulfilling activities in their personal lives.
Always wondered about coworking but not sure where to get started? Learn more about finding a coworking space you love.