Co-working spaces - freeing the freelancer
The internet age has brought about some fundamental transformations in the way that freelancers operate. For many, possessing a laptop and access to a reliable internet connection is all that they need to get their work done. The extraordinary advances in the ways that we can operate have brought new freedom to many – it’s easier to be truly independent. But, for some, this independence can come at a cost.
Many discover that going it alone can be a lonely experience. The unheralded virtues of being a part of a community becomes apparent to the freelancer. It is from the travails of the unrooted freelancer that co-working space began cropping up and flourishing.
What is a co-working space?
In essence, co-working spaces are shared offices. Freelancers, individual contractors, or people whose work consists of large amounts of travel rent space – a desk, a seat at a long table – from which they can do their work. Rental periods can be from a day to a year. Co-working spaces began taking off in the first few years of the new millennium in the USA. The tech-set – independent programmers, designers, digital specialists – quickly became drawn to the idea of workplace sharing. For some, it evoked the atmosphere at university libraries; each doing their own thing, together.
Why use a co-working space?
While working in a traditional office is unappealing to the freelance set – many of whom treasure their independence – it does hold the great benefit of being a community. Being among others engaged in productive activity often helps with motivation. Co-working spaces look to re-engage the freelancer within a working community. Since others in the space are engaged in their own projects, those using a co-working space are surrounded by other individuals with similar work values to themselves.
The benefits of co-working spaces extend beyond acting as a slave for loneliness. For the entrepreneur, just starting out, a co-working space provides a more formal working environment, without the significant costs of a traditional office. Most co-working spaces are located in business hubs – city centres and the like – which gives them easy access to have face-to-face meetings with important clients. Furthermore, because co-working spaces draw in like-minded people, many discover collaborative opportunities with others in the space, or through connections forged through people met in the co-working environment
Co-working in South Africa
Co-working spaces have cropped up in Cape Town and Johannesburg in recent years, as people began to recognise the opportunity for such environments among freelance professionals. CoworkingSA keeps a list of Johannesburg and Cape Town co-working spaces, while Coworker provides international co-working listings, with daily, weekly, and monthly prices for renting space, and user reviews and ratings. Monthly rates in South Africa typically range between R2,000 and R3,000. Many co-working spaces provide private rooms and meeting rooms, which provide the user the benefit of being able to host meetings with clients as well as allowing room for organising group projects.