There comes a time when working for yourself by yourself can really suck. I found the first 12 to 14 months were great and then the novelty wore off, the motivation to get on with things lessened, and the strategies I had employed up till then became less effective.
I knew I needed to be around others who were being productive and focused to help me get things done.
There are now quite a few choices available to the solo worker in terms of sharing spaces rather than facing the expense of setting up an entire office from scratch and still being alone. It’s up to you how much sharing you want to get into.
Like a student house, a shared office presupposes a similar life view from its participants, so it’s worth spending the time to get it right to avoid those acrimonious breakups where one party takes their fridge and moves out.
Here’s a quick summary of my search for a place to call work:
A Google search led me to many and varied places via Gumtree and Creative Spaces. I wasn’t looking for full-time rental as I recognised that with travel and my need for some solitude I wouldn’t be there full-time, so two days per week would probably be fine.
I visited places that had hot desks for rent. Some were great, some were grotty and some just weren’t my style. I sound a bit like Goldilocks! Having connected Wi-Fi and a coffee machine installed may not be all it takes to make it comfortable.
A hot desk can often be shared with another person so it is kind of yours and kind of not. This stage of searching was like house hunting – it took a while and involved lots of emotional longings and disappointments.
A link through a colleague led me to hear about a Coworking Space being set up right near the central station.
(Note the use of caps: a Coworking Space refers to a critical foundation of infrastructure for a new and growing workforce of people who work where, when, how, and why they want, while coworking is a generic word that’s generally used to describe any situation in which two or more people are working in the same place together, but not for the same company. Source.)
Hub Melbourne was created two years ago, and offers a place where entrepreneurial types can bounce ideas off each other and generate mutually beneficial ideas. To help this along with that it makes not just a physical space but a place where people are encouraged to share ideas, hook-up and plan projects together. This is a big task and a huge risk in many ways and it succeeds and doesn’t, in all kinds of ways.
For me though, it felt just right and the people I have met, the flexibility it has enabled, the buzz of energy and work getting done have been a real gift to a lonely scribbler. Not to mention the affordability.
To find spaces in your city check out definitive Fetch list