When I ventured out to work on my own, I was really excited about working from home. I quickly learned, though, that working alone all the time is not for me. So, over the past year or two, I’ve gone to coworking spaces wherever I am: Paper Street in Detroit; Sandbox Suites in San Francisco; Uber Offices in DC; Office Squared in Burlington, Vermont; HUBBA in Bangkok; and LaunchPad in New Orleans. A coworking space is basically an office (with Wifi, conference rooms, coffee, and all the other things that make an office an office). What’s unique about a coworking space is that most everyone there is a freelancer or small business owner or remote worker — people who could work at home or in a coffee shop or a library, but choose not to.
Here are a few ways coworking has worked for me:
1. Fresh Perspectives: I have written probably 10,000 survey questions in my life. Sometimes it’s nice to lean over to the person next to me (who could be a lawyer or a graphic designer or an accountant, but who probably has notwritten 10,000 survey questions) and say “Hey! Do you understand what this question is asking?” When I worked at home, the only one I could ask that of was my dog.
2. All Kinds of Experts: I’m a “content agnostic” researcher — I’ll ask about anything. This means that I often have to learn about subjects I know nothing about, like meningitis, life insurance, parenting, and golf. Being around such an eclectic group of people means that it’s usually easy to find someone who knows (and is happy to talk) about my topic du jour.
3. Unexpected Clients: A lot of people don’t realize they need research until they meet someone who does it. I, in turn, might not think to pitch my services to people outside of my usual network. Coworking spaces provide a chance to cross paths with people I might never have had the chance to meet.