I was able to experience recently the truth, for me, at least, that coworking is a very real social/emotional requirement.
I’ve always had an office job with a place and people to go to and see every day. On occasion, I love the very real privilege of getting to work from home, if for no other reason than a change of pace. I’ve always been pretty sure that I do not have the personality conducive to regularly working from home – as in, having no office space to go. If I ever had a doubt about this, I now have none.
Remote Work Has Its Benefits
I recently realized a dream of spending an appreciable amount of time experiencing my favorite city, Edinburgh, Scotland. I did a Home Exchange for 6 weeks, including the whole month of August – during The Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
As COO of CloudVO, online provider of virtual offices, meeting rooms, and coworking spaces, my job has become more and more achievable with just me and my laptop, so I decided that I could manage some extra time working VERY remotely. I swapped houses with an architect and university professor and temporarily ‘moved in.’ (Side note … another amazing option in this sharing economy, house and car swapping. It’s brilliant!)
Working Remote: The Loneliness Problem
At first, my work/life/vacation balance worked great. The time difference (8 hours) actually wasn’t much of a problem because I was able to enjoy the sites and delights of Edinburgh with my son during the day and then start work in the afternoon. I’d planned a few days of actual vacation, plus weekends and I was able to also enjoy the Festival and nightlife.
My problems arose when my son left to start school and I was alone doing activities and alone working. Within only a few days of his departure, I started feeling an uncomfortable depression settle in, I felt stuck – realizing I’m mostly without friends and family, and was unhappy in the place I worked so hard to be. Finding the energy to do any work that wasn’t mandatory was difficult. I started thinking I’d made a terrible mistake, that I really couldn’t stand being that unhappy and was looking into options for going home.
Overcoming Loneliness and Isolation through Coworking
Thankfully, my very career held the answer. I booked myself for a half-day at The Melting Pot, a coworking space I’d worked in on a previous trip. Honestly, it was nothing short of magical. Just the initial interactions with the staff, and particularly, Sam, returned me from my emotional teetering off-balance. ‘I’m not alone’, ‘the world is my oyster’, ‘look at all these nice people working next to me!’
When I left the office I was marveling at the activity along Rose Street, the loveliness of the city and relishing my opportunity to be there. It took less than a week before I needed another ‘fix’ of coworking – but, it was there for me. Although it meant that I needed to work off hours from my home base in California, I ended up needing the space, the vibe, two more times before my adventure was over. For some of us, loneliness is real, and coworking can be a solution.