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Is Coworking Right for You? Three Questions to Ask Yourself

Date: October 24, 2008

Do you like the freedom of working from home, but not the distractions? Do you enjoy working in solitude most of the time, but often find yourself longing for watercooler conversation or someone to bounce a few ideas off of? If so, coworking might be just the thing for you.

Coworking is concept created in 2005 by a programmer named Brad Neuberg, who was looking to combine the structure of working in an office with the independence of working as a freelancer. In the past couple years, coworking has caught on with freelancers or other independent-working professionals looking to escape the loneliness and isolation sometimes caused by working from home.

Coworking spaces are popping up all over the country--and the globe--but could they be right for you? If you're tired of working from home, but don't find your local coffee shop to be an ideal workspace either, ask yourself these questions:

What are your work habits?
Do you like the hustle and bustle of a regular office, or does the sound of other people typing drive you mad? Coworking spaces tend to have a social feel to them, too, so if the thought of conversations being carried on around you--or directed at you--seems bothersome, you probably want to steer clear. However, if you're someone who loves to brainstorm with others on random topics, talking with others in your coworking space could provide you with some fresh new ideas. Additionally, if your job requires you to make long phone calls frequently throughout the day, research coworking spaces that offer private offices so you are able to work without being disturbed--or disturbing others.

Do you crave structure?
Many people who seek coworking spaces do so because, while they enjoy the freedom of working from home, they are often distracted by the TV, the dog or the ability to take two-hour naps every day. Utilizing a coworking space, even if only on a weekly or monthly basis, can shake up your usual routine and get the productivity flowing again.

What is your budget?
The rate to reserve space in a coworking environment varies, but most offer a monthly, weekly or daily rate. At San Francisco-based Citizen Space, $350 a month will buy you a reserved desk and 24-hour access, while $250 will get you 24-hour access, but not necessarily a reserved space to store your things. Many coworking spaces even offer drop-in rates (Citizen Space lets you drop in for free provided you call before coming).

If you're still not sure if coworking is for you, your best bet is to find a location that offers drop-ins or daily-use rates and give it a try. And if you find that the first coworking location just isn't a good fit, don't give up right away. It might take a few tries, but eventually you might find a group of likeminded workers who help keep you productive and inspired.

To learn more and find a coworking space near you, visit http://coworking.pbwiki.com/.

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