It's no secret that the recent economic recession caused many professionals to leave brick-and-mortar workplaces, either by choice or because of corporate downsizing. While some decided to improve their credentials with an online MBA or additional certifications, a sizeable portion of these professionals carved out a new place for themselves in the world of freelancing. Working mostly from coffee shops and home offices, these freelancers often struggled with social isolation, the inability to concentrate and low productivity. In response to these issues, the idea of co-working was born.
What is Co-Working?
Co-working occurs when multiple freelance professionals come together in one location to work side-by-side. Offices and conference rooms dedicated to co-working have sprung up everywhere, with more than 820 locations now active across the globe. Freelance professionals rent space in these establishments by the hour, day, week or month according to their needs. Working alongside other freelancers, professionals can retain their independence without sacrificing community and collaboration.
Co-working offers several notable advantages over working in a home office or the local cafe. Because of these advantages, the number of freelancers participating in this trend continues to grow.
- Collaboration without bureaucracy. Freelancers who choose co-working establishments can avoid the rules and restrictions of the traditional office environment while still retaining the ability to share ideas with like-minded professionals.
- A sense of community. The co-working environment prevents freelancers from feeling isolated in their work. Surrounded by other professionals who share their vision, freelancers can benefit from the creativity of their peers.
- Encouragement of creativity. Freelancers working alone experience frequent fatigue and creative slumps. Working with other professionals encourages freelancers to stay focused and productive. When freelancers do experience problems in this environment, they can look to their colleagues for guidance.
- Low costs. Because co-working environments are funded by multiple professionals, freelancers can enjoy perks such as free coffee, fax machines, Wi-Fi, access to conference rooms and more for a fraction of what it would cost them to obtain such resources independently.
Analyzing the Trend
The migration of professionals to freelancing jobs is not surprising. With the advancement and widespread availability of the Internet and the ability to exercise greater personal and professional autonomy, it seems a logical choice. However, even with all the benefits of working independently, humans still crave social interaction.
Co-working allows freelancers to experience the best of both worlds. In co-working environments, freelancers can remain free from bureaucracy without sacrificing collaboration among colleagues. They can retain control of their schedules and professional decisions while still enjoying the structure and productivity of an office environment. Furthermore, co-working environments offer freelancers affordable access to resources and equipment not found in coffee shops or the typical home office.
The Significance of the Co-Working Movement
The move into co-working is further evidence of an overarching trend: the return to professional collaboration. From online education to freelancing in the business world, individuals across the globe are expressing a strong desire to exercise more control over their schedules and professional activities. In the past, this brand of independence came at the price of social interaction. To maintain autonomy without sacrificing collaboration, both students and business professionals are turning to new technologically dependent developments, such as online MBA degree programs, telecommuting, social media and, most recently, co-working.
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