Creative Co-working – Part 2

Heather ParlatoBack in July, I decided to join in on a co-working space 2 days per week to shake up my schedule and spend time with a great group of self-employed and partnered creatives. After three months, here’s where we’re at.

The pros: I really like the space and all the people I work with. The group is composed of designers I’ve known for a few years, so we already knew we would get along well. It’s helpful to ask questions and get feedback from trusted sources. It’s also interesting to see how each person runs their practice, how they deal with clients, when they outsource to freelancers, and see how they solve design challenges. There’s also air conditioning!

The cons: Planning to be out for the day and commuting two to three times per week are my biggest challenges [we have a free-for-all Friday where we try to have lunch, and anyone is welcome to work that day]. Getting out with everything I need takes all kinds of time. I avoid commuting during rush hours, but I’m not a fan of unnecessary driving, and my commitment to biking in once per week takes an hour each way, so there’s both time and cost involved with travel.

Also, the social atmosphere leads to distraction, and I find that it’s hard to get all the work done that I’d like, so my productivity is lower. Finally, in terms of the equipment I use, I have the same or better at home, so I don’t need to rent office space to get access to a better workstation.

When I look at these lists, I think it’s pretty interesting that I could probably quantify the costs in time and money on the cons list down to pretty specific numbers, but there are no real metrics for assigning value to the pros. The trick is in weighing how the experience makes me feel and how it benefits me professionally.

Suggestions for improvements: I think a few things could be done to keep my satisfaction in the black here. A few of the more engaging group activities we talked about have gotten shelved for one reason or another. So I’m going to get the bimonthly happy hour, Friday show & tell, and Tuesday accountability meetings going. I might also ask about decreasing my commitment to one day with the Friday option rather than two. For me, a 2-day maximum per week allows me to balance the interaction I want with the other activities a workweek demands, and decrease my prepping and commuting time.

If anyone else is doing this, I’d love to hear how it’s going. Also, if anything jumps out as a good suggestion to my own experience, go ahead and share it.

Listen to BTW: [audio:http://iliseb.audioacrobat.com/download/2476723c-ac1c-3cbc-16c3-c64a2e8b900b.mp3] This post reminded me of a session from a past HOW Conference, “Finding Time to Work at Work.”

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