Does your freelance web design future include other freelancers?
Many freelancers think dealing with coworkers became a thing of the past once they left traditional employment. But a new breed of freelancer is choosing to work closely with others, often in an office environment. And they’re thriving.
I’m talking about the new trends towards coworking and freelancing hives. As freelancers, it’s important to take note of new trends. It’s especially important when such trends seem to be working.
This article from Karsten Strauss on Forbes, Why Coworking Spaces Are Here To Stay, examines the popularity of coworking.
In this post, we’ll take an even closer look at coworking and the latest freelancing trend, hives. We’ll examine some of the benefits (and drawbacks) of each.
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Benefits of Coworking
Before we look at the benefits of coworking, it’s important to explain what coworking is. Coworking occurs when several independent workers share the same office space.
A coworking situation may be long-term, where all coworkers share the expenses for common facilities. Or, it may mean that a freelancer rents office space for a day or two.
In many ways, coworking provides all the benefits of working in an office without most of the drawbacks. Here are some of the benefits coworkers frequently mention:
- Provides a collaborative environment. In a coworking space, you are around other independent workers. Many of these workers may have skills that complement your own. Often, you can turn to these coworkers for advice. You may even choose to team up with one or more of them.
- Lends a professional appearance to freelancing business. Let’s face it. Home offices often have an unprofessional stigma for many medium to large businesses. If you can claim a physical location other than your home, you are ahead with these clients.
- Reduces the possibility of distractions. Sometimes home work spaces are full of distractions. The kids may be home from school. Your pets may be demanding your attention. And all around you are unfinished household chores, just begging to be done. A coworking space can improve your productivity.
- Combats loneliness. One of the biggest problems that home-based professionals face is loneliness. In a coworking space, you are surrounded by other professionals. You can take part in office chit chat, or not, as you choose.
- Provides access to tools and facilities. Few freelance web designers have the budget to rent their own office space, complete with conference rooms and a receptionist. With coworking, those expenses are shared with your fellow coworkers.
- Often in a prestigious area. Many coworking facilities are set up in prestigious office buildings located in the business section of town. If you are trying to win over some medium to larger-sized prospects, location may make a difference.
- Helpful to travelers. Are you going to be away from your home office for a period of time? Find a convenient office space in whatever city you will be in and set up a temporary office there. This can be great for extended trips or digital nomads.
And of course, freelancing coworkers are still independent. There’s no boss looking over your shoulder. You decide which clients you accept and which ones you turn down. If you have a long-term coworking agreement, many facilities allow you to come in when it’s convenient for you–even during non-business hours.
Does this sound like something you’d like to look into?
How to Find a Coworking Space
More and more businesses are cropping up to accommodate the growing popularity of coworking. Here are some websites to help you find a coworking facility near you:
- Optix. An international listing of coworking spaces. This site matches coworking hosts with those who need to rent a coworking space.
- Deskpass. This is an online directory of coworking spaces all over the nation.
- regus.com. Use this site to rent an office or book a meeting. The site is designed for both large and small (including home-based) businesses.
A Look at Freelancing Hives
In recent months a specific type of joint business venture has cropped up, known as a freelancing hive. A hive goes beyond coworking to team up two or more compatible professionals. Typically, each member of a hive retains their independence and may charge separately for their services although they share some common clients.
Hive members may work from a coworking space, or they may each work from home. Like coworkers, hive members often share expenses. Although, in the case of a hive, these expenses include virtual expenses such as the cost of a hive website or a toll-free phone number.
As a group, a hive can provide more services than a solo professional. Teaming up can keep freelancers from losing out to larger agencies, who can provide more turn key services. And it makes sense for many types of freelancers to team up. For example, imagine a web designer and a marketing specialist team.
You can learn more about hives in these articles:
- From Richard Greenwald on The Wall Street Journal, Freelancers Find It Pays to Team Up
- From Lisa Evans on FastCompany, Work Hives Will Make Your Freelance Life Less Lonely And More Profitable
Drawbacks to Coworking and Hives
After reading all the benefits and opportunities coworking and hives provide, you may think that you’re ready to jump into one or both of these trends. Before you do that, consider these drawbacks.
- Commute time and cost for coworking. If you in a large city, there may be a coworking space just minutes from your house. If you live in a smaller town or suburb, you may have to drive miles just to reach a coworking space.
- Expense for coworking. The cost of a coworking space varies widely. I used one of the sites above to search for a coworking space in the city closest to my home. I found costs ranged from $75 to $349 a month–but even this could be expensive for a new freelancer.
- Coworking facilities vary. A coworking space could be anything from a private office space with common meeting and reception areas to a single office with many desks for multiple coworkers. Make sure to check your coworking agreement carefully.
- Personality conflicts in a hive. If hive freelancers don’t choose their hive counterparts carefully, they may find trouble brewing. Be sure to get a hive agreement in writing. Specify who is responsible for what and be specific about payment details.