“You can work for yourself, you don’t have to work by yourself”
That’s one of the premises of working at THINQTANQ and one of the main reasons that people come here to do business. This quick post will give you some tips on how to move from working alone to being part of a community.
Don’t Be Fooled – The Social Media Effect
The lonely freelancer is a thing, some of them embrace the idea of life of a digital nomad, moving from place to place, meeting new people and then moving on before forming any of those troublesome lasting relationships. Their Instagram feeds are drool worthy, usually packed with exotic locations and fabulous workspaces, hand shaking with world leaders and barely shaded screens full of flawless code on the beach. Who knows how much of it is real and how much of it is the social media effect but it is an alluring prospect. The wolfpack of one.
However, for every one of the consummate digital nomads, there are 3 digital outcasts. These people often work from home, sometimes venturing out to the coffee shop to get “some human contact”. That’s a direct quote by the way, actually from more than one person over the last 6 years of running THINQTANQ. These poor people are quite often a bit sad, a bit isolated and feeling that along with some of the other downsides of being a freelancer (no Christmas party to get embarrassed after, difficult clients, late paying clients, scope creep, the illusive work/life balance, the list goes on) they could really do with some human company or even just someone to bounce an idea off. Sometimes these people don’t survive the isolation. They go for months, working alone on their sofa until one day a client offers them a job and they fold, partly due to the regular income, partly due to the possibility of sharing an office with real people. And this is one of the problems with the wolfpack of one concept….It doesn’t work for many people.
Enter coworking and shared work spaces.
Taking THINQTANQ as an example, I can point to interactions every single day where people benefit not just from the work space itself (the desks, fast internet, refreshments, printing etc) but also from the less tangible elements. Sense of community, access to an enormous library of information and expertise, access to hardware and software, events, conversation and camaraderie and of course, the Christmas Party (if you fancy coming along to ours, you can grab a ticket from the Events Page).
It’s Not All Hi Fives and Rainbows Though…
Being part of a community brings with it some basic obligations. Think of it in terms of a “Social Contract”. Navigating these do’s and don’ts can be tricky but I have put together a list of some of the quick wins to help you get up to speed as quickly as possible.
1 - Work Together
It sounds obvious, but work together when you can. Avoiding burn out, taking advantage of the skills and time of others and just spreading the load. It’s good for you, it’s good for people that are doing work with you and it is great for the community in your work space! Just remember to pay a fair amount and to pay it on time!
2 - Don't Undercut Your Competition
We don’t just mean the people in your workspace who do similar work to you. We mean, any of your competition. In a world where freelancers compete as part of a race to the bottom on price, we all lose. Compete on quality of service or product, support, customer service, scarcity, whatever you like, but please, not price.
3 - No One Here Is Your Mum
The shared work space is a fragile thing. A lot of effort goes into trying to make sure you have the things workers need to be productive. From decent internet to always on coffee and the general feeling in the space. All of which can be ruined by someone leaving their lunch things in the sink or leaving a mess in the toilets, even wearing shoes that are super noise or a clacking away on a keyboard. If you are transitioning away from working at home, try to give some consideration to how your actions could affect others.
4 - Guard Your Work/Life Balance
One of the great things about sharing a work space with others, is at the end of the day, you can close down, go home and be present. You should do that. Moving your work space outside of the home means you can clearly define where you go for work, and where is your personal space. This separation helps you be more productive and healthier. Try not to mix the two spaces up.
5 - Random Acts of Kindness Are Contagious
It is easy to focus on ourselves, our deadlines, our shopping, our meetings and all the other things that we “need”. But taking 2 minutes whilst out at the shop to buy a bag of donuts, or leaving those vouchers that you aren’t going to use somewhere that someone else can find them means not only do you feel good about helping someone else, but that in all likelihood, the next time you are reeling from a declined estimate, there might be a bag of cookies waiting. Random acts of kindness aren’t just a good idea in coworking spaces, they are for everyone, every day.
That’s it. Have a think about how you might fit into a coworking space and if you want to give it a go, come and try out THINQTANQ. You can book a free week (yes, week) and try out some of these tips for a happier work place.
If you have any more tips that you would like to share with us, or a question about coworking or community building, give us a shout using our contact page and we will get right back to you.