Nobody in their right mind in Los Angeles would consider doing this: I started commuting to work — even though I’m a freelancer.
I’ll concede that “right mind” combined with “Los Angeles” may be an oxymoron to some. But that’s not the point.
Like more than over a million people worldwide, I couldn’t resist the siren song of a good coworking space — and it wasn’t just the funky décor, abundant snacks, and unlimited high-test coffee. All of that can be had in a smartly-appointed home office.
What coworking offers is a blend of autonomy + people; freedom + structure. It’s a potent contradiction that juices productivity and enhances creativity.
Moreover, the “co” in coworking tells you exactly what it sells you: cooperation, connection, and community.
All of which apply not only to work performance, but also to fulfilling our basic human need for belonging. Sign me up.
Independence without isolation
Shared experiences are an important part of how we thrive. Science shows that when we’re deprived of social connection, we can actually feel physical pain, just like when don’t get basic needs met for food, water, and shelter.
Dramatic, sure … but a stretch of working home alone without significant human contact might bring on intense arguments with inanimate objects that even a faithful companion like Wilson won’t forgive you for.
Understanding coworking’s secret sauce has been the subject of Dr. Gretchen Spreitzer and her team’s ongoing research at the University of Michigan. Topping the list of their findings are flexibility, independence, and freedom to be yourself.
That said, the research also shows you enjoy being a part of a meaningful community that taps into the sweet spot of collaboration without competition. In other words, coworking brings all the benefits of being in a traditional office, without the terrible parts — like petty politics and hovering managers.
“You’re not building work space. You’re here building a new infrastructure to rebuild social fabric and rebuild up the potential for human connection.” ~ What WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey tells his team.
Coworking’s open structure, flexible arrangement, and come-as-you-are vibe is as much a social movement as it is a physical space. The joy of coworking, though, is that who you connect with — and if you do at all — is totally up to you.
Given the space to build your own brand instead of someone else’s, coworking gives you the chance to work with others worth working with. As with every other part of going out on your own, choice is the point.