How to Build the "I'm-Not-Alone Community"
“I’m not alone in my love for coworking,” stated Lawton Ursey in his recent Forbes.com article, entitled “What Coworking Can Really Do For You.” “They offer what forward thinking entrepreneurs are looking for – community and collaboration.” These statements well summarize the author’s lengthy praise of this new wave sweeping up and carrying entrepreneurs all over the world. “It’s a community,” he continues, “and it’s the future of how business is going to be done.”
So what is it about coworking space that has Lawton so excited? The same aspects that have been so well received by entrepreneurs that the number of new coworking spaces increased by 400% from 2012 – 2014. Considering that a projected 40% of the workforce will be independent free-lancers by the year 2020, these flexible office spaces are a burgeoning trend unlikely to wane. The list of coworking benefits is lengthy, but we’ve selected five key aspects that well-summarize the benefits that coworking space brings to your success.
Natural Networking Opportunities
Given the ubiquitous data on how important social interaction is for your health, arguably the single most important beneficial aspect of coworking is purely the social stimulus it lends. Researchers are finding that people who interact, form relationships, and bond with other people tend to experience a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even some forms of cancer. Social interaction can not only prevent disease, but it can also help people already engaging in health battles, such as fighting breast cancer or recovering from heart surgery, to decrease their risk of death. In fact, according to a study, cited by Leonard Mlodinow, scientists found that in a nine-year study of 148 individuals, “Over the nine-year period, those who placed low on the social network index were twice as likely to die as individuals who had placed high on the index but had otherwise similar risk factors.” Clearly, enhancing your social interaction is a statistically life-saving step. When your company converts you to working from home, or when you’re working on your startup, coworking is a great solution to help supplement the social aspect you would otherwise lack, while still allowing you to be productive.
And those connections can be very powerful. Not only will the social aspect help to bolster your physical and emotional well-being, but your business will glean the benefits too. One Virtual Office member who uses Office Evolution proudly maintains that because of the open Drop-in Business Lounge, he’s already added three new clients to his services. In fact, he’s experienced such success networking within the Drop-In space that he’s stated he plans to retain his Virtual Membership even after he obtains his own new building, purely for the natural lead generation within the Business Lounge.
Enhanced Motivation and Productivity
“Every time I step into. . . my favorite coworking spaces in Atlanta, I feel my motivation increase,” states Ursey in his Forbes.com article. “When you cowork, the inspiration is through the roof. You’re surrounded by a ton of passionate people going for a dream.”
The environment created by varied entrepreneurs and freelancers bustles with energy, drive, eagerness to learn, courage, and -- as Ursey observes -- incredible passion. This atmosphere is both engaging and challenging, as the cohort of businessmen and women you hobnob with are both focused on their goals and infused with assorted wisdom and seasoned experience, prompting you to equally focus and increase productivity. Genuine relationships are formed, strengthening your social core. New prospects and partnerships are fostered easily, as you share commonality while also contributing the variety of your own unique expertise. Problem solving is simplified when you’re able to connect and consult easily with the rich fabric of professionals across the table.
Plus, let’s face it: It’s just too tempting to stay in your pajamas all day, working from home.
Better Work-Life Balance
It’s hard enough to “leave it at the office,” when the workday is over. But how much more difficult is it to compartmentalize and find freedom from the day’s struggle when that daily grind takes place in your own kitchen or bedroom? There is great psychological benefit to being able to turn around outside of your workplace and watch yourself physically close and lock the door to the office after 5pm.Gabriel Radvansky, a psychologist at the University of Notre Dame, agrees: "Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an 'event boundary' in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.”
Having a place where all of the nasty-work-things are allowed to happen – and told to stay – can be tremendously healthy for individuals, like fresh startups or freelancers, who would otherwise have no clearly defined physical space to capture those experiences.
Professional Image – Low Overhead
Coffee shops are loud. There’s just something unprofessional about trying to yell at each other over the take-off-of-the-Millennium-Falcon-esque screeching of a steam wand in cold almond milk. Meeting clients in your home is not only unsafe and intrusive, but is also distracting and quickly eats up more valuable time as it requires both preparation and clean-up. With the plentiful tales of Craigslist pickups gone wrong, clients are becoming less and less inclined to put confidence in people who want to conduct important meetings from their basement. Venture capital pitches certainly go over far better in board rooms than in lawn chairs.
Virtual Office services provide not only the benefits of a business lounge to cowork in (plus included kitchen amenities), but providers like Office Evolution also throw in a professional phone answering service and their prestigious business address for your company cards and mail delivery. They also provide professional conference rooms and day offices with the ability to be rented for as little as 15 minutes or for several full days at a time, lending exactly the professional environment that not only builds your self-confidence, but also the confidence your clients have in you.
Startups, entrepreneurs, and freelancers typically have very little capital to bring to the table (especially when they’re just getting set up) which would normally sever any chance of their being able to have a professional office. Virtual Office providers, like Office Evolution, offer month-to-month memberships that give small business owners the opportunity to not only have professional space but a prestigious address and suite number to boot, equipped with a friendly professional receptionist to welcome their guests.
Flexible & Convenient Omnipresence
Clients come from all over the map and can be dissuaded from doing business with you because your office is all the way across town, in an area they’re unfamiliar with and don’t wish to trek to. Virtual Office spaces like Office Evolution offer drop-in business lounges and meeting rooms at prestigious office locations all over the city (and the country), removing the barrier between you and your prospects. Last-minute scans, copies, prints, or faxes can be done at midnight at a location in Boulder (even though the office you’d normally work from is in Cherry Creek) at more cost-effective rates than the time-restricted clock-watchers at the local Kinko’s. Notaries are also present at every office location within the Office Evolution network and available to perform witness or notary services. If traffic is impeding your progress toward Downtown, you can pull off and work out of a different location (or relax with a cup of free coffee) until the clog clears. Having multiple locations as a tool in-pocket, while keeping more cash in-pocket too, is one of the most-distinctive perks that keep entrepreneurs and freelancers happier and more productive.
Whatever your business may need, whether a lot or a little, Virtual Offices like Office Evolution offer a lot for only a little.