Walk in an office and you’re bound to find a few of the following things: someone with a bowl of candy to share, someone with an impressive number of knickknacks on their desk, someone with a story from the weekend, and someone with a work problem that needs solving.
Often, when you are a freelancer, self-employed or a remote worker these are all much tougher to find. The loss of these opportunities for conversation and collaboration or a natural break detracts from the workday. Instead of being challenged and inspired by those around you, the day can drag on or lose focus.
“There’s an energy that comes from working in the same environment as other people,” said Garrett Tichy, owner of Hygge Coworking in Charlotte. Between two office buildings, the space serves as a workplace for 200 members. It is available 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Work there ranges from nonprofit to renewable energy, from wedding planners to lawyers, and from marketing to city planning.
“I keep the amenities simple,” said Tichy. “What I offer at Hygge is three things: a place to sit, coffee and Wi-Fi. Everything else is on you. We provide space.”
So could you find the same things at home or in a coffee shop? Sure. But what tends to happen within coworking spaces is a sense of community when the same people show up day after day.
“Community comes from a lot of people who show up regularly — community comes from people,” said Tichy. He finds that the people who seek out a coworking space are often those who value that type of commitment in community.
“The benefits are energy and inspiration and motivation — there’s something about sitting next to someone who’s just crushing it,” said Tichy. Further, he says finding someone different than you is even better. Having previously worked in one industry surrounded by people doing the same type of work, he has gained so much more perspective being around people working in a different field.
People are drawn to this style of working all across the state. Jon Harol started the Coworking Station last summer in Holly Springs. What was once an old police station has now been converted into a collaborative space that not only hosts a number of office spaces and conference rooms but also regular events such as happy hour yoga or speed networking.
“We started off building a traditional coworking space that was more something you’d find in an urban environment but found we had to adapt because we are a more suburban community,” said Harol. This meant a few more private offices than community tables. People were still looking for an office with a sense of community around it though, which is why they chose a coworking space over a home office. To members, the experience is valuable because there are shared resources, shared spaces and shared ideas.
“A lot of companies will be working at a desk with no divider in between them, sharing a conference room, and automatically rubbing elbows with people from other organizations,” said Harol.
Tichy echoes the same idea.
“For me it’s just an energy thing,” he said. “We have offices that people go in and close doors. But people like the vibe of what’s happening right outside of their office space.”
Collaboration does not always come in the ways you might expect. Proximity and problem solving go hand and hand. Instead of comparing notes with people in the same field or company, coworking allows for a more varied response.
“A lot of times it’s the guy sitting next to them saying ‘what do you think of this?’” said Harol.
While each space is unique and has its own set of amenities, be it a podcast studio like at Hygge or beer on tap like at the Coworking Station, the best part of a coworking space are the people inside.