Whether you’re a freelancer, or running a business where your staff are predominately virtual in nature, you’ll agree that working from home in isolation can become very lonely and you’ll often find yourself craving the (often distracting) human interaction of a bustling corporate office.
Yes – spending a day here or there working from Starbucks has its perks, but if you’re looking for something that allows the opportunity for likeminded collaboration, chances are the thought of a co-work space has crossed your mind.
You already know why co work spaces are so great, but how do you live co-work life to the fullest?
The short answer is: have a plan. Here are 5 easy-to-implement tips to getting the most out of shared office environments.
1. Set Strict Time limits and To-Do Lists Before Arriving
Failing to plan is planning to fail, so arriving at a co-work space with no idea of when you’re leaving, or exactly what you need to achieve, will ensure you end your day with that all to common “what have I been doing all day” feeling – which is not the feeling you want associated with your new co-working environment.
These spaces enhance productivity IF you come prepared, so by setting a strict departure time and to-do list for that day you’ll force yourself to avoid moseying around and filling your time with unnecessary busyness.
2. Come With The Right Gear
Less is more when it comes to shared work environments; nobody wants to be the one who has to lug around a bag full of ‘essential’ office items that you can’t possibly do business without.
When I decided to take Ace Capital (my mortgage lending business) to a co work space in Melbourne, I had to go on a serious office-supplies-and-equipment cull in order to make my dream of working full-time from a co-work space a reality. Power chords were replaced with mini USB chargers and printing is now done via a mini robotic printer.
With a little creative thinking you too can reduce your gear down to a simple satchel bag (hey- if a mortgage broker can do it, anyone can!)
3. Hit The Gym Before Hand
Most co-work spaces are set in central locations in the hub of a city or town, and most cities or towns have a gym within walking distance. Kill two birds with one stone; start every co-workspace session with a gym visit to ensure that you get the most out of your day.
I’m sure you’re already aware to the fact that exercise (especially cardio-based training) releases an abundance of endorphins into your bloodstream which is highly beneficial for your focus and productivity levels throughout the day. By going directly to work after exercising you’ll put your focus and productivity muscles into overdrive.
4. Realise This: There Will Be Times When You Need To Avoid Distractions
Even though co-work spaces encourage networking and collaboration, there will still be times when you need to be left alone to work on important tasks. While you can’t (and shouldn’t) stop people from approaching you, you can sure give social cues at times when you don’t want to be distracted.
You may remember this simple yet effective tip from the Four Hour Work Week: Have your headphones in during times when you don’t want to disturbed. This usually gives the clear signal of ‘leave me alone’ but for those who insist and attempt to strike up a conversation at the wrong time anyway, try this: put your finger to your lips and say “hold on one second” into the mic, then turn to your visitor and say “hey, I’m in the middle of something, what’s up?”
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Strike Up A Conversation With Others
Don’t forget the reason you joined in the first place; to feel less isolated and to meet likeminded freelancers or soloprenuers to collaborate with. Most co-work spaces exist to foster an environment in which collaboration is not only possible, but encouraged!
Chances are the person working next to you is there for the exact same reasons, so strike up a conversation if it feels appropriate. You could try a simple icebreaker such as “how long have you been working from here?”
Co-work spaces are the way of the future for soloprenuers, so arm yourself with the above tips if you want the best of both worlds: sky high productivity levels and the opportunity to collaborate with likeminded individuals on demand.
Take that isolation!