Freelancers, are you missing the co-working productivity boost?

We have long-said ‘the key to a good day is where you work,’ so it’s little wonder we took notice of a new study on productivity, and where exactly that productivity excels, writes Karen Tait, founder of The Residence Coworking.

Driven to distraction?

Freelancers already know the headline finding of that 1,000-person study -- that self-employed workers like them are more productive than staff. Nonetheless, as we all know, location, setting and environment matters, and what ‘works’ for one person when working, like background music, can drive someone else to distraction!

Fortunately, after giving their feedback on how many productive hours they completed in a working day, the respondents went onto detail where they rack up those productive hours the most.

Almost seven hours is the sweet spot

Well, it emerged that people were most productive when they worked in a coworking space, with an impressive average of 6.9 productive hours achieved. That compares to 6.4 hours at the office -- and only 5.8 hours for those work from home.

I can’t say I’m surprised, especially not by ‘work from home’ losing out.

When people come to our Hertfordshire and Essex centres, they often say not only do they need our space to be productive, but that also they want to banish all distractions synonymous with the home. We all know that at home, the doorbell can ring; there’s laundry to be done, and everything is in your eye line! Potentially, and even more likely since covid, that ‘everything’ can include your spouse or children!

Working from home does usually offer a reprieve from office politics. But interestingly, office workers who use our centres flexibly do often either cite office tittle-tattle or the many ‘unnecessary’ meetings as a reason they’re escaping to us.

Working at a coffee shop as a freelancer: the realities

There is a half-way house of course: the coffee shop. But while your local coffee shop may be free to work from (and that’s invaluable with the cost of living soaring), they aren’t always conducive to doing your very best work. What if you can’t access a plug? What if nature calls and you must leave your laptop unattended? What happens when (invariably at certain times), the coffee shop gets too noisy? What if your work is confidential?

There are also concerns with coffee shop Wi-Fi holding up under the weight of a Zoom or Teams call. That’s on top of the calorific, potentially costly risk of feeling obliged to buy a third Danish pastry, as you clock up your sixth hour taking over a four-person table!

In my experience with coffee shops, by the time I’ve paid for a day’s worth of coffee and snacks, it works out costing more or less the same money as a professional, dedicated creative workspace!

What you should look for in a co-working space

Oh, and if your workspace is worth its salt, it should offer limitless coffee, super-fast Wi-fi, and seemingly unlimited plug sockets. That’s the modern co-work space before and after covid.

We’re also noticing another aspect of the typical co-working space that ‘Del’s café’ can’t compete with. Aside from eliminating the distractions of working at home or the office, freelancers find collaborative spaces more productive due to the variety of industries, sectors and skills that inhabit that single space.

Rember, a creative workspace where it is not a private, blacked-out booth offers you the chance to meet like-minded freelancers; other people on their ‘A-game’ to bounce ideas off, and learn how others have been successful freelancing outside of the bubble of their own industry. This is not totally unrelated to productivity of course, because input you didn’t know you needed – from someone with a different perspective – can often work wonders for your designs, words or lines of code per hour.

Six in ten say their co-working network is their top source of business

Don’t just take my word for it that this is a productivity boost you could be missing out on!

A recently published GCUC Global and KnowResearch study found that 60% of respondents said their coworking network was their “top source” for getting work.

From what we’re witnessing, other benefits of collaborative and communal work areas include improved health and wellbeing.

Feel connected, not blue

In particular, while almost every freelancer we know says that working for themselves is great, and yes, they usually enjoy their own company, as human beings, we all need to feel connected, and part of a community.

Otherwise, we can feel lonely, sad, isolated, or worse; struggle with creative block -- something that clients will just no longer forgive now they know freelancers are meant to be the most productive workers bar none!


1st July 2022

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