When I started freelancing almost three years ago, I really enjoyed working from home. It was after about a year, when the novelty of working in my pyjamas wore off (!), that I started to feel quite lonely and isolated ‘at work’ and yearned for the buzz of office life.
Since August 2014, I’ve been working at Impact Hub in Islington, North London. It’s a global network of co-working spaces with a focus on innovation and social action – currently with 63 hubs across 5 continents. A huge range of businesses are based at the Islington branch, from social enterprises and charities to start-ups and consultancies. The Hub operates on a hot-desking basis and there’s a mixture of small teams of 2-4 individuals, as well as freelancers like me. Working around others has proved invaluable for my confidence, motivation and productivity, and my social life in general! When I worked from home, often not speaking to anyone all day until my housemates came back in the evening, I found the lack of human contact very difficult. So working from the Hub has definitely filled a void!
Co-working spaces are particularly good for people who can’t afford to rent their own office or have a separate office room at home, neither of which I can do whilst living in London! For me, not working at home means it’s easier to separate my work life from my home life, and I can ‘leave work at work’ and disconnect in the evenings. It also means I start work the next day feeling refreshed. Not only have I found that I’m more productive when I’m working at the Hub (mainly because I don’t have those all-too-familiar distractions) but I have become happier in general since I started working there.
The Hub has given me the opportunity to meet lots of new people, too, some of whom have become good friends. Lucky for me, some of them are from France, Spain and Latin America, which has meant I can practise my languages in person – a nice change from the written nature of translation. Most co-working spaces organise social events, which help if, like me, you’re shy or a little out of practice when it comes to networking. The Hub also organises film nights, Friday night drinks and even yoga classes, all of which take place on-site and are mostly free of charge.
Working from home can be great and has lots of advantages, but I wanted to write about co-working as an option for people who feel they need to change their working environment, as I did. Most places offer various membership packages from 1-5 days a week and often have ‘trial days’ so you can try it out before signing on the dotted line. If you’re based in London, there’s a good directory of ‘co-working offices’ on this site: www.coworkinglondon.com
I’ve focused on Impact Hub and London in this post as it’s the only place where I have experience of co-working. It would also be great to hear about your experience of co-working spaces or similar set-ups where you live. Or perhaps you prefer working from home? Let us know what you think in the comments section!