Co-working is on the rise and could be for you.

by Craig Maltby for Club LT

Are you a coffee-shop dweller armed with your laptop? Is Panera or your local latte provisioner  your office? Or maybe your home kitchen or basement serves the purpose. With about 1/3 of U.S. professional service providers being independent contractors or remote workers comprising a vast “gig economy,” you’re definitely not alone.

One alternative to the coffee shop routine is co-working. Co-working space is where a building owner or master lease holder will rent out space to individuals or small teams on a month-by-month basis, avoiding the need to commit to a long-term lease in a higher-priced traditional office building.

A co-working client such as myself can pay a monthly fee for a single work station, private office or just a seat at a group table, with wi-fi, coffee, conference rooms, social events and other amenities as part of the package. I work at a place called Gravitate, which properties in West Des Moines, Iowa and downtown Des Moines. It features all of the above plus a constant micro-brew keg on hand.

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The terms allow great flexibility. If I want to work at home some days, certainly I can do that and not be out any substantial cash at all. If I don’t want to go to the downtown location and opt for Gravitate suburban location, I can do that, no extra charge.

And if, someday, I want to add people to my team, I can rent private team space with multiple work stations.

Co-working is trending upward quickly. In fact one of the biggest co-working firms in the industry, WeWorkis expected to go public sometime in 2019. More on the co-working world is here.

How do you know co-working is for you? There are many variables. For me, it starts with the fact I need some human connection, as all humans do. I can hang at my kitchen table or basement desk for a while, but not for weeks or months on end. And coffee shops only go so far, especially when screaming kids and loud latte steamers are in full swing. The co-working model lets me pop into an office with like-minded, similar-careered people whenever I want. I’ve made some gratifying friendships through co-working, which is practically proof in the pudding that it’s worth it.

Geoff Wood, founder and owner of Gravitate, agrees: “The need for coworking exists because people are social animals. Working alone—as a freelancer, entrepreneur or remote worker—suits a lot of people but ‘being alone’ does not. That social need to be around other people is a real thing, whether it’s to bounce ideas off of someone, have a buddy to grab coffee with or just someone to care about how your life is going.”

Beyond the social thing, the prices are great, the facilities are great, IT connectivity is great, and amenities are great. Is that enough greats?

As more companies work to squeeze every cost they can, office space and real estate footprints are always in the cross-hairs. If co-working isn’t in your life right now, it may be in the future.

If you’re a corporate employee working remotely, many times the company will pay for your co-working space. And if you’re a freelancer or indy, you may be able to integrate that cost into your billings. There’s no reason not to check it out.

About Craig Maltby
Craig Maltby is the Club LT community manager. He lives and works in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. When not writing or editing, Craig goes to movies, plays golf (or at least hits balls at the range), and plays keyboard in a classic rock music duo. 

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