There are lots of great blog posts and e-books about why coworking is beneficial for freelancers and other independent professionals, so I won’t bore you with another one. Instead, I’d like to talk a little bit about what coworking does in addition to providing mobile workers with a laptop-friendly place to network and collaborate.
Beth Buczynski (@gonecoworking) is passionate about collaborative consumption, and the way that sharing can help improve our economy. She is also the co-author of an ongoing series of ebooks about coworking and the mobile workforce. Find out more: Coworking: How Freelancers Escape the Coffee Shop Office.
Let me start off by acknowledging that coworking doesn’t work for everyone (What?!) It’s true. Traditional employees whose bosses haven’t yet warmed up to the idea of telecommuting and small businesses that need the privacy of a dedicated office often find themselves looking in at the coworking community thinking, “That would be nice, but it doesn’t matter to me.”
I’m here to tell you that no matter what your profession—local restaurant owner or city council member—it’s in your best interests to learn all you can about coworking and support its growth in your community.
Times are tough all over the world. People who thought they were nearing retirement find themselves preparing for another decade in the workforce. New graduates who expected to secure an entry level job find themselves fighting industry veterans for an interview. No matter how you slice it, unemployment isn’t good, for families or the community. Coworking provides a safe environment in which underemployed professionals can take the first step into the world of freelancing. It also provides a cost effective way for small businesses to move out of their garages without the high cost (and risk) of a private office space. Enabling local professionals to employ themselves rather than waiting for a traditional job, means coworking helps to create a steady income, which stabilises local families.
Nine times out of ten, a coworking space is a local business, often financed completely by the savings accounts of their owners. In turn, many coworking space members are also small businesses. This creates a symbiotic relationship in which micro-businesses help to sustain each other simply by working together in a shared space. Instead of looking to high-priced agencies for marketing or design help, coworking space members can turn to the small businesses working just a desk or two away. Depending on size, coworking spaces can also organize training workshops, sponsor speakers, host conferences, and offer classes: all of which can bring people into town and benefit the small business economy.
Photo credit: oschene
One thing this economic recession has revealed is the problematic nature of one-skill workers. The new workforce will be built by multi-taskers: professionals who have a large pool of experience and expertise to offer potential employers. Participating in a coworking community is like enrolling in an ongoing education class for entrepreneurs. Freelancers are constantly looking for ways to build expertise in new areas, expand their skill set, or create a new product line. Coworking makes neighbors and friends out of professionals working at very different levels of their careers, enabling the effortless flow of knowledge between those looking to add new skills to their resume.
These are just a few of the reasons why everyone should be happy when a coworking space (or two) comes to town. Can you think of any others? Please share them in a comment!