Freelancers, remote workers and solo entrepreneurs are an independent bunch. We’ve carved out a lifestyle and way of working that’s outside the norm of 9-to-5 office work. A big part of that freedom revolves around working where we want, when we want. So it’s not surprising that many are reluctant to give up their (free) home office or favorite coffee house for the more structured environment of a coworking space.
But after a few months or years working on our own, a funny thing happens: we get lonely. Loneliness is a growing problem in our highly technical society. Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy wrote in the Harvard Business Journal:
There is good reason to be concerned about social connection in our current world. Loneliness is a growing health epidemic. We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may well be higher. Additionally, the number of people who report having a close confidante in their lives has been declining over the past few decades. In the workplace, many employees — and half of CEOs — report feeling lonely in their roles.
Unfortunately, our attempts at using technology – Facebook, Twitter and other social media – to solve the problem isn’t working out so well. Even Facebook itself wonders if their users are “simply consuming trivial updates and polarizing memes at the expense of time with loved ones?” If an online community isn’t the answer, consider a physical community, like a coworking space. When people come together for a common purpose like work, there is an opportunity to form bonds even though each individual’s work may be different. Paradoxically, when you take part in a community, it can become a space in which to express yourself as an individual. Or, as we like to say here, work for yourself, not by yourself.
Coworking Spaces are Human
In the results of a 2015 survey from the Global Coworking Conference Unconference, the happiness and mental health benefits of coworking are clear:
- 84% said they were more engaged and motivated when coworking
- 67% said coworking improved their professional success
- 69% said they feel more successful since joining a coworking space
- 82% said coworking has expanded their professional networks
- 80% said they turn to other coworking members for help or guidance
- 64% of the respondents said their coworking networking was a very important (26%) or important source of work (38%)
- 69% reported they learned new skills
- 68% reported they improved their existing skill set
- 67% reported they attend events at their coworking space occasionally (45%) or often (21%); only 4% said they never attend events
- 87% report they meet other members for social reasons, with 54% saying they socialize with other members after work and/or on weekends
- 79% said coworking has expanded their social networks
- 89% reported they are happier
- 83% reported they are less lonely
- 78% reported that coworking helps keep them sane
Here at WorkPlace Sonora, we often hear from our members that they feel they have a “tribe” of supportive colleagues. They also find that they are more productive without the distractions of working at home or the intrusions of others at the local coffee shop. We are always working hard to find new ways to help our community connect and build strong ties among our members.