Towards the end of the summer, I hit a wall with my productivity. I felt overwhelmed, burned out and just plain done with working from home. After seven years of almost exclusively working from home, I realized (with some help from my team and my coach) that I wasn’t necessarily ready to burn my businesses to the ground but rather I needed to change up how I was working. So I started to consider the benefits of coworking spaces.
I definitely had a lot of resistance to this idea that you may relate to. In a lot of ways, I love working from home. I’d never be able to work in my pj’s and toss in a load of laundry from a coworking space. As an expat in Germany (who doesn’t speak the language), I was also worried about communication issues. My last big stumbling block was how calls would work in a shared space since I have a lot of those.
But, with some loving and firm kick-in-the-ass instructions, I decided to at least give it a try.
The Mindset Benefits of Coworking Spaces
Perhaps the most surprising benefit I immediately noticed was a dramatic shift in how I viewed myself. If you work from home it’s easy lose sight of the value of what you do when it’s in your living room, bedroom or even a home office.
Plus, when your home-life and work-life are completely enmeshed, it’s not easy to maintain the necessary separation that healthy boundaries provide. It often doesn’t help when other people don’t quite accept that you’re actually working. Although they mean well, so often your family and friends assume you have all the free time in the world to run errands, chat, or do quick favors when you work from home.
By moving even part of my work week outside the home, I created a separation I didn’t even realize I needed. This, in turn, reinvigorated my workdays and helped me build more structure into my days.
Let’s be honest here, we’ve all seen the memes and satire about working from home. The well-intentioned “get all the things done” days can easily turn into Netflix binges and procrastination if we’re not careful.
#1. Better, Healthier Meals
By choosing to spend several days a week at the coworking space, I’ve had to plan better and prepare for each day a bit more in advance. The simple fact that I need to pack my meals for the day has been hugely beneficial to both my health and my sanity. (Not to mention, taking 10 minutes to pack food has reduced the wasted time staring into the fridge wondering what to make in the middle of the workday!)
The other surprising benefit of coworking spaces with regards to meals is that I have drastically reduced snacking and made meals more consistent. Working from home with full access to the pantry makes snacking all day super easy and intentional meals are few and far between. Leaving the house has helped address both of these issues.
#2. Higher Productivity
Similarly, my productivity has benefited from needing to consider what to bring with me each day. I take a few minutes in the evening to think about what I have on my list for the next day and gather the necessary items to take. These few minutes make my mornings more efficient because I already have what I need to hit the ground running.
#3. Fewer Interruptions
Perhaps not surprisingly, the fewer interruptions at the coworking space has been huge too. The constant pitter-patter of little ones, even when they’re being taken care of by someone else, made it difficult to disconnect from my mom brain while trying to work. By spending more time outside the house, I’m able to focus and disconnect from home demands better.
However, the most surprising benefit of coworking spaces here have been the impact on my time at home working and with my family. I’ve found that I’m also more productive at home because I can better adjust to the interruptions when I’m not so frazzled from dealing with them all the time. I also find it easier to disconnect from the business side and enjoy being a mom when I’m home.
#4. Stronger Boundaries
Finally, the concern about how to manage calls when I’m outside the home has turned into one of the biggest benefits of choosing a coworking space. I structure my week to batch calls as much as possible but the added need to ensure a quiet space to talk has made it easier to stick to my boundaries around scheduling.
I’m more strict about protecting my “no calls” day because it’s the easiest day to head to the office. I have a second half day I try to keep call free and similarly, I’m better about protecting that by being more strategic about call scheduling on that day. My clients always respect my boundaries so this is more about my tendency to people please than any client push back.
If you’re thinking about taking advantage of the benefits of coworking spaces yourself, here are a few things to consider:
1) How substantial is the commute? Be realistic about what you can handle day in and day out.
2) How will the access hours impact your schedule?
3) Does the type of work you do lend itself to working in a coworking space?
4) Does the coworking space offer specific perks to make it even more useful? There are often things like expert office hours, networking events, and partner discounts that come with a coworking space.
5) Are there different membership types to choose from that could impact productivity? For instance, 24/7 access can be huge if you like working odd hours. Or, if you can have a fixed desk or storage locker, could you leave tools there to help with your workday.
Even if a coworking space isn’t for you, consider how you can improve your workday in any environment through big or small actions! Perhaps it’s time to clean out your junk room to make yourself a separate office. Or, get creative with an existing guest bedroom to see if it can serve double duty.
Look at how you, and the people around you, view your work space and time. Ask yourself if you need to refresh your boundaries to protect your time or space better.
Ultimately, these benefits of coworking spaces, and more, can be huge and help in ways you may not expect so don’t be afraid to give it a try!