When I think back, I realize I’ve always loved to co-work.
Well before I had any kind of job, I regularly engaged in something my parents called “parallel play.” In parallel play, two or more pre-school-age friends would share space while playing individually.
Growing up, I preferred to do homework at the kitchen table. As I shifted to a digitally nomadic lifestyle, I chose lively cafes for my floating office. I focus best with a background track of random sounds and activity. I produce some of my strongest creative work when stimulated by the unobtrusive yet energizing presence of other bodies.
Simply put, I like to work with company.
It makes sense to me, then, that coworking is a rapidly-growing trend of the digital age. If you haven’t noticed, coworking spaces like Selina (Costa Rica), Nonce (South Korea), and Permalab (Portugal) are proliferating in every corner of the word.
Shared work spaces in offices are rising in popularity. Even more exciting (for us digital nomads), more and more companies such as GitHub are allowing their employees to work remotely. By all current projections, the future looks remote — 1 billion digital nomads by 2035.
Coworking is generally defined as “a self-directed, collaborative, flexible and voluntary work style that is based on mutual trust and the sharing of common core values between its participants.”
I would add that it’s also a lot more fun — and more productive.
In my experience, coworking is fundamentally more productive than going it alone. Here’s why:
- Support at your fingertips. Your literal fingertips — not the virtual, Google-variety kind. Want a second opinion on some content? Not sure how to phrase a delicate email? Need a hug? Nothing beats asking an actual human. With coworking spaces, those human experts are just a head nod or “hey you” away.
- Ambient action. If you’re like me, you have a hard time focusing if it’s “too quiet.” Music works. So do jungle concerts, if you live in Costa Rica. But there’s something uniquely stimulating about the sound, sight, and even feeling of other people working nearby. Plus, it’s pretty damn inspiring to be surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs and changemakers whose work you admire.
- Emotional Recharge. Short, enlivening breaks are proven to make us more productive when we get back to the task at hand. And those breaks can be much more fulfilling when we use them for meaningful (non-virtual) interaction — a quick chat over coffee, a massage trade, or a lunchtime yoga class, for instance. With coworking spaces, opportunities to recharge our emotional batteries are as abundant as charging stations for our tech.
- Accountability. Nothing motivates hard work and focus like watching other highly-motivated individuals pour their passion into purposeful projects. Coworking spaces tend to attract the kind of mission-driven digital nomads who populate NuMundo’s global community. While you may think coworking would enable procrastination, in my experience it actually keeps us accountable. I imagine the hoards of location independents gravitating toward these spaces would agree.
- Networking. Those like-minded entrepreneurs and changemakers? They could be your next business partner, collaborator, or affiliate. In today’s work environment, our professional and personal lives are beautifully tangled in our search for purpose-driven work. Embrace the inevitable, and take advantage of coworking spaces as the ideal playground for forming connections at all levels.
- Happy people are more productive. Coworking, like parallel play, is fun. It addresses our human need for interaction, support, community and stimulation in a holistic way. When our needs are met, we can focus that happy energy on getting shit done.
Are you a coworking convert? We’d love to hear about it! Please share your experiences in the comments.