Find out the benefits and disadvantages of virtual coworking, whether it’s the right choice for you, and how to get started with some great options available right now.
Whether you love or hate remote working, one of the downsides that many will agree on is that remote working can often lack the community that can typically be found through a group of like-minded people working towards a shared goal.
At its worst, coworking can feel lonely. That loneliness can be demotivating. Luckily, there are always ways to tackle these negative effects.
Unsurprisingly, coworking spaces and other flexible working space options have become a natural evolution of remote working for more and more of the workforce. It’s proven that remote workers overall are happier and more productive when using coworking spaces and finding a suitable space has become easy with global companies like WeWork and Spaces.
But there’s always room for improvement and many find creating an office or virtual office environment solves many of the issues that working remotely can present.
Why do people use coworking spaces?
Coworking spaces are ideal for people who still desire some of the benefits of working in an office environment.
These benefits include such things as having a dedicated workspace and the opportunity to network with others in similar positions. This can be combined with the benefit of having complete control of your schedule.
Coworking isn’t only useful for remote workers either. For example, having someone to hold you accountable in a passive, supportive way is a proven technique for people with ADHD. For example, having what’s called a ‘body double’ (and even a virtual body double), who can carry on with their own task but be present, can significantly boost productivity and keep you on task.
This is one of the reasons why people who work remotely tend to gravitate towards working in cafes and coworking spaces in the first place.
The presence of others can help you keep focus and stay on task while eliminating the distractions your home can present. Interestingly, those who engaged in coworking habits were found to be 74% more productive, and 93% had a bigger social network.
But what about if you don’t have access to a traditional coworking space, you’d prefer to work from your own home, or you find coworking spaces to be too cost-prohibitive? A virtual coworking space might be the exact solution flexible workspace solution you are looking for.
Read More: How to Work Productively From Home
What are the benefits of virtual coworking?
As many of us were confined to our homes from 2020 through 2021, a need for virtual coworking suddenly became apparent and, with telecommunication technology being where it is, it has been an easy transition for many.
Many teams, or even groups of friends, found organising daily sessions to keep each other on task and collaborating was a helpful way to navigate day-to-day while working from home.
Virtual office teams are also able to quickly share tasks, collaborate on projects, and share ideas without resorting to distracting emails, jumping on calls, or getting their wires crossed.
Organised virtual coworking spaces also launched with dedicated platforms that offer aspects such as having your own virtual desk and break-out online meeting rooms for having a discussion with other members of the group.
Virtual coworking has quickly become a solution to the three problems mentioned above with clear benefits.
These benefits include the following:
- You can make use of your home office and save on extra costs like food and drink.
- You can save money on coworking space subscriptions (which can be very costly).
- It’s an ideal solution for people who are unable to leave their homes due to chronic illness or disability.
- It isn’t location dependant, so it doesn’t matter if you live in a rural or isolated area without a coworking space available.
- You can mix with a larger range of remote workers from across the world, creating even wider networking opportunities.
- You don’t have a fixed location, for example, if you are a housesitter, so having a reliable virtual coworking space can keep you on the task on the go.
- It’s easy to organise social online events with your group post-work including book clubs and catch-up sessions.
- You’re using your own internet so you can skip the VPN, though we would still recommend using one.
Read More: 10 Essential Freelancer Tips for Beginners
Is a virtual coworking space right for you?
While virtual coworking has some clear benefits, it may not be the right solution for everyone. For example, if you seek out coworking space or cafes specifically to have some separation from your office then not physically leaving your home space could make it difficult to achieve that separation between home and work that many of us need.
You’re also reliant on having a good internet connection which physical coworking spaces will have as standard. Also, scheduling and time zone issues could arise if your team or group are operating in different time zones.
You also need to make sure everyone in the group is comfortable with the setup of the virtual coworking space. A quick discussion of the ground rules beforehand should make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Five virtual coworking spaces you can join now
One of the easiest ways is to set one up yourself using Zoom or Slack with your existing team of remote working friends who would be eager to join you. You can even put out a call out to one of the many freelancing or remote working communities on Facebook to see if anyone would like to join you.
If you’d prefer something organized for you and you’re interested in widening your community then you can also join one of these creative workspaces now:
My workhive – A friendly community ready for you to try coworking virtually. They have been working virtually for several years and have amassed a global network of freelance and remote workers. The sessions are held on Slack and they maintain a flexible workspace in that there is no pressure to come by every day. You’re encouraged to share ideas and the daily work goals channel helps to keep you motivated. Always happy to welcome new members, all you need to do is submit your email to them to receive your invite.
Focusmate – Focusmate is a lovely site that connects you with other people who want to focus on a task for exactly fifty minutes. Both of you state what you want to complete, and then you start the session (on or off mute) before sharing what you completed at the end. You get three free sessions per week or $5 a month for unlimited sessions. A great way to meet professionals from around the world and tick some specific tasks off your to-do list.
CAVEDAY – Offering virtual sessions, you’re encouraged to be part of this global network and join them ‘in the cave’ as the ‘world’s most focused community’ Rather than focusing just on virtual coworking, Caveday’s goal is to get you working as productive as possible by implementing steps and rules for the cave that are research-backed. You also have access to support from mentors and coaches. Single sessions are $20 or you can get purchase monthly or yearly memberships.
Sococo – A perfect solution for teams or classrooms looking for a virtual space with organized desk space. This is about as close to a traditional coworking space but online as you can get. Virtual lunches are scheduled, a full virtual office with breakout spaces is available, and chat functions. The basic plan is $14.99 a month, cheaper paid annually, for ten desks.
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