It’s all in the hyphen!
Coworking: freelancers, remote workers, and people from many companies working in the same physical location Co-working: individuals who work for the same company in the same physical location It sounds exactly the same when it passes your lips, but there is quite a difference between coworkers and co-workers. For those considering remote work from a coworking space, here are a few differences you’d experience being surrounded by coworkers instead of co-workers.
It’s All About Choice
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.” It’s also safe to say that your coworkers are the friends you choose, and your co-workers are more like the family you’re given. Your co-workers could be a great bunch of people that you love spending time with, but working with a fixed group of people in the same space comes with certain obligations. Coworkers can develop great friendships and enjoy working in the same space immensely. In some ways, because the pressure is off to have to work together, the relationships develop much more naturally. Coworkers can bond over the shared experience of the coworking space’s culture without having some of the obligations required of people who work for the same company, have the same boss, or have to work as a team to complete projects. There’s freedom in being able to work in the same place with a group of people who aren’t relying on you or demanding anything from you. Coworking spaces have all the normal “break room” chat opportunities, but organized social activities are usually low-pressure because the community understands the remote work, freelance, and entrepreneur lifestyle. An active coworking community has members that choose to engage because they genuinely want to hang out, not because they feel obligated to participate.
Let’s Talk About Work…or Not
If you’ve ever been trapped by a colleague who wants to unload all of their work frustrations on you in the hallway, then you know the benefits of working in a space where no one typically shares the same boss. Coworking conversations tend to center around what people are working on, what activities are happening in the community, or if anyone else is ready for a freshly brewed cup of coffee. There’s a certain amount of privacy that comes along with coworking simply because your coworkers will usually only know as much about you and your work as you choose to tell them. For those who get distracted or discouraged by negativity, gossip or conflict, being surrounded by people who don’t know your boss or the complexities of your office politics can be refreshing. As you get to know your coworkers, the door is open for conversations about more than just work and office politics. You get to know the people in your coworking space by who they are rather than what role they play. There are opportunities to get into some great discussions about the topics of your choice, or keep it simple when you’re feeling more low-key socially.
Thinking Outside the Box
It’s cool to network with people who do what you do and work where you work, but it’s also extremely rewarding to work around people who work for many different industries in a variety of capacities. Spending time with people who are just like you may be comforting, but it takes diversity and new ideas to grow intellectually and socially. Coworkers can be entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers along with remote workers from a variety of vocational sectors, creative industries, and large corporations. Putting such a diverse group of people under one roof creates an environment where presuppositions, ideas, and perspectives are vastly different. Instead of tossing ideas around in a figurative bubble with people in your own industry, talking with a diverse group of coworkers can help you think outside the box.
Becoming a Work Family
Ultimately, after working in a coworking space together long enough, your coworkers can become your new definition for co-workers. Sharing a workday, even if you’re not working for the same company, creates a bond and provides a social connection. Coworking spaces work hard through place-making efforts and the work of staff such as a Community Manager to develop a fun and connected social culture. That’s kind of the point behind creating a coworking space in the first place! There are many benefits of developing strong ties to a social circle that fits your work needs. Coworking spaces, and the coworkers that inhabit them, may be the perfect place to find your life-long work friends.