Coworking is a style of work where an employee shares a working environment with others who are typically not employed by the same organization. This style of work is attractive to independent contractors, work-at-home professionals, and others who often work in relative isolation.
I expect to see a rise in rural coworking as more companies adopt Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and cloud-based applications like Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS). Employees whose corporate applications have moved to the cloud will no longer be restricted to doing routine work in the traditional brick-and-mortar office but will be enabled to work from home, or anywhere else they can get a good, secure internet connection.
Since 2006, the number of coworking spaces has roughly doubled each year1. This trend will likely continue as companies adopt more lenient policies for working remotely. Here are a few benefits to coworking versus working from home:
- No cubicles. Many of the coworking spaces are very open, unless you pay for a private office.
- Coworking spaces are usually fully equipped. At the entry level, you can get good internet connectivity and refreshments. More secure and stable internet connectivity provides a healthy alternative to the local coffee shop.
- The more chic spaces deliberately encourage networking and collaboration by hosting frequent events for members. For example, one company I researched hosts weekly member presentations where you can make a sales pitch or present an idea, and then get feedback.
- Coworking spaces are not just for nerds. Many industrial coworking spaces are cropping up where members can share bench time on pricey tools such as lathes and 3D printers.
Here are some things you should look for in a coworking space if you are interested in an alternative to the local coffee shop or the home office:
- Tour the facilities in your area. If you find one you like, ask the proprietor if you can get a free or reduced cost trial. Try before you commit to any contract. During a trial, talk to other people and get their likes and dislikes.
- If you find one you like, drop in and check the population and noise level in common work areas during times you expect to frequent it. Some people can tune out background noise easily but you probably need to look elsewhere if you have to crank up Metallica tunes in your headphones to drown it out.
- Coworking companies are in business to make money. Prices will range widely. Competition is scarce in rural areas but it is growing.
1. “The Future of Coworking: coworking visas, corporate partnerships and real-estate specialists”. Martin Pasquier. Innovation Is Everywhere. Retrieved 25 January 2017.