The number of corporate employees and entrepreneurs who work from a home office and on the road is exploding. We expect to see this trend continue as business owners and corporate executives realize the benefits of lower operational costs, greener business practices, and flexibility (read: talent retention) that comes with working from offsite.
However, though these are real and measurable benefits for business, there are also a few downsides to working from home. Many entrepreneurs feel lonely and isolated working by themselves for long periods of time. As liberating as it is to own your own business and be out of the corporate lifestyle, there are still tangible benefits to the social interaction that comes from working with others.
This is where a virtual office really starts to shine. Coworking is less about desks and walls and infrastructure than about a different way to work – where independent professionals can enjoy the social and collaborative benefits of working in a shared office space – and the concept is spreading. There are approximately 16.2 million self-employed teleworkers and 12.4 employed teleworkers. If you’re one of them then you know that the initial freedom that comes from working from home can be limiting in time in terms of productivity and creativity, and lacking the benefits of camaraderie that come from working with others.
While coworking can be extremely informal , a virtual office serves as a framework that combines community of coworking with the professional support that business needs.
Coworking offers several major benefits for solo entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to creativity:
Change of setting = change of perspective
Sometimes even just a change of perspective can be enough to create a breakthrough. Coworking in a virtual office environment rather than your standard home office can help get a new perspective on your work.
Collaborative environment can lead to new ideas
Although each user of the co-working environment is working on their individual projects, collaboration is encouraged. Bouncing ideas off of the person next to you and talking through problems is a way to develop new ideas. Another co-worker, even in a different field, can offer fresh perspective to your problem.
Coworking can lead to more opportunities
Working with other entrepreneurs in a coworking location is also a terrific networking opportunity. You never know who you might meet at your co-working location. One day you might be working with someone who turns out to be the perfect fit for a referral – or vice versa. You could potentially find a joint venture partner that you can work with in order to take your business to the next level. At the very least, you’ll get to know people running businesses in your area that have similar goals.