I live in New York and do freelance web programming. I work consistently for one company, but also do freelance projects and am currently developing an iPhone app on the side. I also work as musician in the evenings...

For all these different projects, I unfortunately use my small NYC apartment as the workspace. And after several years of this, it is wearing on me a bit, being in the same room all day/evening.

I'm curious about co-working spaces. I'm reluctant to 'pay to work', but I feel that a scenery change may boost my productivity, help my mental health, and free up my apartment to just be the place I live :)

I was wondering what others' experiences are like with co-working spaces.

How did did it affect your workflow? What did you expect, and what was different?

  • 1
    Hi djt, welcome to Freelancing.SE! Unfortunately, the way this question is worded makes it ask for opinion-based answers, which are hard to accept as proper answers. Can you edit your question to reword it, asking about a specific problem you are facing, instead of asking for "others['] experiences [...] with co-working spaces"? – Canadian Luke Jul 7 '15 at 15:51

Check Nomadlist. This site provides an overview with everything you need to know about working in a certain city.

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    Welcome to Freelancing.SE - while I actually really like Nomad List, your answer could use a little expansion, as right now it's little more than a link-only answer. Please edit and expand it if you can! – Amelia Jul 15 '15 at 15:00
  • I don't know how Freelancing SE works, but on Stack Overflow, link-only answers are usually either converted into a comment, or deleted. Since you logged in yesterday, I guess you've seen Amelia's comment? – halfer Jul 22 '15 at 17:14
  • Apologies for the downvote. If you can improve this answer, I will revert it. – halfer Jul 24 '15 at 23:20

Paying for a co-working space as a sole trader is just like a business renting an office - it is quite normal. The social environment (either as a result of co-working or using a traditional workplace) can have a positive effect on productivity, but as one might expect with the human condition, no-one can say for sure how it will work for you. You may find that the increased productivity will fund your co-working expenses, but again it's not possible to say.

Here in the UK we have not embraced co-working as much as we should have - I believe it is much more popular in mainland Europe. However, we do have a number of such spaces, and it is quite normal to be able to get a guided tour of the facilities. I would recommend visiting as many spaces near you as you can. You may even find, as we have here, that some co-working spaces will give you a few days free of charge, to "try before you buy".

As an alternative, consider finding a set of coffee shops and working from these, perhaps in rotation. I've done that for some years, mixing it up with a co-working space, and the change of scenery in the early afternoon can be useful, especially if one is concentrating for long periods of time. That said, the economics of buying coffee-shop coffee and lunch can get rather expensive: here it's easy to spend 10GBP/day, which is 200/GBP a month, and yet a co-working membership can sometimes cost as little as half that (outside of London, of course).

If you are cost-conscious, some co-working places will do a part-time ticket, and you could split the time between working from home and the office. This is sometimes sufficient to boost your productivity, even though you're still working in your apartment some of the time.

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    Agree on coffee shops. I find general public background noise less disruptive than a pet begging for attention. You may find that various stores and restaurant chains offer free access. Though, keep an eye out if you need telnet, ssh, or vpn access as some networks are a bit restrictive. Another way to disconnect is to develop some aspects local only and then integrate them later when connected again. – A Smith Jul 22 '15 at 15:54
  • @Max: the point about non-filtered internet access is a good one. However of the ~15 public wifi points I use in the UK, I think only one is filtered (SSH and related services don't work). It may vary by location, but generally it is harder to add in firewalling/filtering than just offering ordinary wifi :-). Of course, it is ideal to carry a wifi dongle - bandwidths are increasing now, and costs are decreasing, and so this is becoming more viable for remote workers. – halfer Jul 22 '15 at 17:11
  • This is a good point. It is like any other business, and obviously I'm trying to minimize costs. I gave it a try for a couple days last week. However, I miss my home environment with a proper desk chair, and a large monitor. Coffee shops don't do well for me because of the noise, poor ergonomic setup, and inconsistency as far as weather it's full and has working Internet. I'll have to try a couple other spaces, but generally I've felt more focused on a working environment. – dtj Jul 22 '15 at 17:38
  • @dtj: I see your point, but I think you'll need to accept a trade off. You want to escape the confines of an apartment to reduce isolation - a substantial and well-known risk for solo workers - and it may be that you'll need to accept a less comfy chair to get the more social environment. To deal with café noise, is it workable for you to use headphones? I find that since music is a bubble of "my own noise", it is less distracting than silence, oddly enough. – halfer Jul 22 '15 at 18:03
  • Certainly I'd expect co-working spaces to have more appropriate chairs than coffee-shops - and this is what you're paying for. I imagine if you move into a co-working space for the long term, they'd even let you take your chair there! – halfer Jul 22 '15 at 18:04

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