A great post by Jeff Carter.

The gist:

People at home feel isolated. That isolation can lead to depression. It’s rough being an independent contractor. There is a lot of rejection. Entrepreneurship is hard. It’s better to experience it with people in the same boat as you.

All of this is true in my experience. Working at home gets depressing. Getting a conventional office removes the distractions but you are still isolated. Working from someone else’s office removes the isolation, but typically you don’t have much control over your environment, and the fact that the other people in the office are a team while you are operating solo kills some of the social benefit. The best situation is to be part of a team that you lead or are a partner in. Next best is to work independently in the same physical space as other people who are working independently. Starbucks or the public library ain’t it. Businesses that offer high-quality flexible working environments at low-enough rates to make using them a low-thought decision for contractors and entrepreneurs should do well, going forward.

UPDATE: Another take on the same issue:

These are variations on a theme of tech-driven individual empowerment that’s closely related to the America 3.0 argument.

6 thoughts on ““Co-Working””

  1. I think working from home requires a lot of self-discipline. A co-worker of mine, finally fed up with CA – moved to Idaho – and will continue developing software for his company – 1000 miles away – Internet and web cams.

  2. I don’t know that working from home is depressing. I know what I have to do, and I get it done. For me, this is the greatest job I’ve ever had, but then I was accustomed to working alone, without much supervision, in some truly depressing AFRTS establishments, and with a fairly definitive task list. Now the commute is just a short stumble to the desk, computer and files, I set my own hours (which often are holidays, weekends and evenings), and communicate via email and phone calls with my business partner. Client meetings are by arrangment. What’s not to like?

  3. It’s tough to work at home, and not for everyone. The creative class likes the co-working way of doing their job. They like to collaborate. It’s harder to collaborate when there isn’t a human connection.

    As people get fed up with California, they can move-stay connected virtually-but still co-work. Check out Desktimeapp.com and see all the places listed on there.

    This is the future.

  4. One point: In many companies, especially whose that have grown largely by acquisition, the people that an individual mainly needs to collaborate with are often not in the same city or even the same country. A product manager in CIty A may have some need to collaborate with other PMs who are mostly (but not all) in the same city, but much more collaboration with a marketing communications manager in City B, an engineering manager in City C, and a field sales organization scattered around the country and other parts of the world.

  5. Sgt. Mom,

    I think there are big differences between individuals. Conventional office environments suit some people, others prefer to work at home. Co-working seems like a good alternative for people who work independently but feel too socially isolated if they work at home. It also provides the option of a portable office environment, as Jeff points out above.

    My own experience is that working alone is psychologically difficult regardless of whether you are working at home or in an office. It becomes important to schedule social activity as part of the weekly routine. Co-working might be a good alternative for people who are like that.

  6. A problem with working at home is that quite a lot of “jobs” – e.g., writing – require working entirely alone and fiercely protecting that “alone time.” This is not necessarily bad in itself but does present some problems when one is written out for the day and ready to be social again.(Yeah, I know a lot of writers collaborate, but it doesn’t work for me. Furthermore, a lot of what’s marketed as “collaboraton” is known in the trade as “sharecropping,” in which the senior and better-known writer provides the allure of the famous name and the junior writer does all the work.)

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