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Reflections on co-working

If you’ve checked out the “About me” section of this site, you’ll already know that I work from a co-working space in Sheffield, UK. The space is called Union St, and it was recently featured in the national media, when the Sunday Times paid us a visit and wrote an article on co-working. I was given the opportunity to share my thoughts on co-working and konnekt! was featured in the article (an extract is available here). This interest in Union St from outside Sheffield got me thinking: What was it that made co-working such an attractive prospect for me, and what do my freelance colleagues think about co-working?

Why co-working works for me

When I decided to start up as a freelance translator, Union St was my very first port of call. New to the world of self-employment, I was sure I’d need all the help I could get, and the idea of having people around me who had been through the same sorts of processes and probably experienced many of the same doubts and concerns that I had felt like a kind of safety net — there would be people who I could chat to, learn from and maybe even work with around me all the time. The second major factor in my decision to co-work was that I wanted a place to work outside of my home. I was worried that, if I worked from my kitchen table or a spare room, my line between home and work would eventually blur, and I’d feel isolated. I wanted to be able to get out of the house each day, then come home to relax, knowing that I’d done what I needed to do for that day and spoken to some other people. For me personally, having a separate ‘office’ environment helps me to work efficiently and keeps me focused. I’ve got ‘going home’ to look forward to at the end of the day, so my mind stays on the task at hand. And if I do find myself flagging, I’m right in the heart of the city, so I can have a quick wander around or run some errands before returning to my desk refreshed and ready to get going again.

The flip side

However, everyone works differently and for many freelancers, these issues aren’t a problem. Most of the freelancers I’ve worked with in my career to date work from home very successfully. And that set-up has many benefits too — no travel time (which in turn increases capacity) and no costs, to name just a few. Others may not be able to co-work due to their location or family commitments, or they may choose not to because they are simply more comfortable at home. That is one of the great things about freelance work: there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and there doesn’t need to be. There’s room for co-working and working from home, and you can opt for one, the other, or a mix of both, depending on your preferences and situation.

What do you think?

Have a read of the Sunday Times article and let me know what you think — I’d love to hear your thoughts on co-working. Do you think it’s a useful way to improve the quality of life you have as a freelancer? Can it improve your business or your own performance? Or can you get by just fine without it? If you work from home, have you got any home-working tips for staying focused in your office set-up? Leave a comment below or get in touch on Twitter! (@konnektlanguage)

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