The way people work is rapidly changing – especially if that work is tied to online industries.
Instead of signing up to do a manager’s bidding from a drab office cubicle, more and more people are opting in to do remote work from locations of their own choosing.
Since working from home eliminates hassles like the stress of daily commuting – or even having to put pants on in the morning – the benefits of such careers are becoming increasingly appealing.
But even as people ditch the corporate cubicle, they’re not saying goodbye to the office environment all together. Remote coworking spaces are quickly becoming the productivity environment of choice for modern day solopreneurs and freelancers.
These work locations offer opportunities for coworkers to share their skills and build networks with other online professionals in a way they can’t do from home.
If you’re thinking about leaving the comfort of your home office to work from a coworking space near you, this week’s Silver Bulletin will show you the many productivity benefits and drawbacks these new work environments have to offer.
Why Are So Many People Switching To Remote Coworking?
By 2020, the boom in coworking is projected to reach over 26,000 coworking spaces and 3.8 million coworkers globally.
While most corporate employees are forced to work in factory-farm style cubicles and conform to the internal politics of their corporation, remote workers gain much more freedom over when, where and what jobs they work on while always being able to bring their true selves to the office.
Although many remote workers set up shop from a home office or local coffee shop, modern coworking spaces seem to offer more lifestyle freedom, skill-development and collaboration potential than the solitary alternatives.
The explosion in coworking spaces across the globe has also brought the power of internet-based work to previously unconnected utopias. While digital nomading was once an exotic lifestyle achieved by a rare few, increased internet availability around the world is quickly making The Four-Hour Workweek a remote work norm.
For example, I’ve spent the past four months working for ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes from Dojo Bali Coworking – a coworking space located just a stone's throw away from one of Bali’s hottest surf spots.
Not only do exotic coworking spaces like Bali Dojo offer access to daily beach activities like surfing, but they also include cool features like pools, hip cafes, daily skill share presentations and several collaborative coworkers from a range of online industries.
Productivity Pitfalls in Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces definitely aren’t for everyone though.
Daily distractions – especially at beach vacation spots – are a constant threat to your productivity and must be managed.
Coworking spaces are noisy at peak hours and full of interesting people up for sharing big ideas. Although you can learn valuable insights from such people, a “quick conversation” can easily turn into a multi-hour “networking” session.
And aside from the noise and networking opportunities, coworking spaces can also house wannabe entrepreneurs that are prone to abusing your time.
It sounds a bit harsh, but you can quickly get a feel for wantrepreneurs in coworking spaces because they’re usually more interested in socializing than getting serious work done. If you decide to start coworking, it’s definitely important to become judicious about who you trade your time with so productivity doesn’t suffer.
In my own experience, coworking space cultures are usually collaborative and supportive in helping everyone advance towards their bigger business goals. However, stories exist of some coworking spaces harboring unhealthy levels of competition.
But in the end, the nature of remote work and solo-entrepreneurship demands that you protect your time and constantly build increasingly productive habits. If you don’t have effective strategies in place to combat distractions, coworking spaces will likely hurt rather than help your online business.
Coworking Space Productivity Tips From Successful Coworkers
Since I’m currently working from a collaborative coworking spot in the middle of a distraction-rich paradise, I decided to ask a few insanely productive remote workers how they accomplish all their tasks each day.
I asked each of them “What are your 4 to 5 personal secrets for maintaining high levels of productivity while coworking?” Here’s how they replied:
Viola is a high-powered SEO consultant and copywriter. She not only manages a team of copywriters to meet the needs of her many demanding clients, but also maintains a vibrant life for herself outside the office.
Here’s Viola’s pro tips:
- Understand that work productivity is first and fore most a practice. And as such it is to be treated as any other practice. The rules that apply for excellence in yoga, martial arts, painting, crochet or anything else - also apply to productivity.
- So, firstly, you will want to make a decision - a conscious decision to rework your routines and habits. This is where you can choose to "eat the frog first" and do the most important task in the morning, use the pomodoro technique or any other tactic that feels right for you. Maybe this just means moving to a quieter spot in the coworking space and only having coffee dates in the afternoon.
- Secondly, you will learn to deal with the discomfort and unwillingness to actually do it. This is your relationship to practice itself. This is where you get distracted, chat with coworkers or get lost on Youtube. The question is: Where did you break this spell? Which practices in other areas of your life are easier? What can you learn from them and apply here?
- Keep in mind: Productivity is a choice. And your unwillingness to do it is totally normal and to be expected. Practice is about showing up at the laptop every day - especially on the days that you don't want to.
Joe is a graphic designer and partner in a small software startup. I asked Joe how he stays productive since I see him continuously buried in his laptop while coworking. He leaves at a decent time every day and always seems to be doing fun things outside his work hours.
Here’s Joe’s pro tips:
- Since my work is highly creative, I make sure to take frequent breaks to refill my creativity well when it goes dry. Rest is critical for being a top performer so I honor my breaks by going for a 5-10 minute walk on the beach, for lunch with other coworkers or by taking a quick plunge in the pool.
- Headphones and music are a must for me to get in the zone. I listen to jazz or music without lyrics. Wearing my headphones also signals to other coworkers not to bother me.
- Avoid going out too much as a digital nomad. Late nights interrupt your morning routines, which then ruins your entire workday. Since mornings are usually pretty quiet at coworking spaces, it's important to prioritize your morning productivity.
- And most importantly, make sure only to join coworking spaces that have a ‘get sh*t done’ culture.
Kate is an ex-lawyer turned kickass copywriter. She writes eBooks, website copy and creates entire marketing campaigns for her many clients. She writes at least 5,000 words per day so I feel comfortable calling her a productivity beast.
Here’s Kate’s pro tips:
- Always schedule your work hours when the coworking space isn’t very busy – early in the morning and/or late at night.
- When you’re having a moment of low productivity, take an hour off to go network with someone. This usually brings your creativity back to life when you return to work.
- Try to sit at the same spot in the coworking space every day. This helps you to get back into the zone more quickly since your mind associates that spot with doing work.
- Do everything you can to eliminate your technology distractions. Use programs like Cold Turkey to prevent yourself from wasting time on YouTube or Facebook during your work hours.
- And most importantly, surround yourself with other people at the coworking space that are more motivated and focused about their work than you are. If you sit down next to them, they won’t suffer distractions from you and you’ll be less likely to stop working until they do.
I'm an ex-geologist turned online marketer for ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes. Here’s my own 5 tips for maintaining coworking space productivity.
These are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned – the hard way – about how to minimize distractions and maximize productivity in shared coworking spaces:
- Lock your smartphone or tablet devices in a locker while working. Your mobile phone is designed to be an irresistible attention grabber so defeat it by putting it out of reach.
- Install Cold Turkey on your laptop and set it running for your entire work day.
- Train people in the coworking space not to waste your time. When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to play, play. Be nice, but tell people you just don’t have time to talk if you’re only taking a short break.
- Invest in a noise-canceling headset like the Bose Quietcomfort 35. They cut out the external noise and are great at intimidating people away from bothering you.
- And most importantly, move your body throughout the day. I use a laptop stand to move between standing, squatting and sitting positions throughout the day. My coworking space also has a pull-up bar installed so I practice hanging, do pull-ups and try to invert my body whenever I refill my water bottle.
Coworking Space Necessities
The following lists are what I consider to be my coworking space must-haves, nice-to-haves and deal-breakers. If you’re going to invest in a monthly membership at a shared workspace, make sure they have what you need to succeed.
Nomadic coworkers building their businesses one jungle coconut at a time – Outpost Coworking in Ubud, Indonesia.
- 24/7 Access
- High-speed internet
- Plenty of power outlets for your devices
- A variety of quiet spaces to work (including A/C rooms when it’s hot and you need to think clearly)
- Skype call booths
- A collaborative community culture where people exhibit abundance mindsets (i.e. daily skill share offerings by members for other members and the local community)
- A “get sh*t done” work culture
- A coworking culture that respects the productivity zen (a.k.a. not too noisy – even at peak hours)
- A good cafe to get coffee and food throughout the day. If you're always leaving your workstation for food, snacks or coffee, it’s hard to stay in the productivity zone
The pool, standing desk and bean bag chair area at Dojo Bali Coworking – Canggu, Indonesia.
- Pull-up bar
- Sofas and bean bag chairs to relax or nap on when needed
- Audio and video recording equipment with studio space for hourly or daily rental
- Coworking community extracurricular activities (community building through hackathons, parties, lunches, dinners and local volunteer work)
- Slow and spotty internet
- No sense of community
- Scarcity mindsets fueled by unhealthy competition
- Excessive noise and a focus on socializing over productivity
- Messy spaces, untidy kitchens and dirty bathrooms
- Really bad food and cafe offerings that constantly force you to leave the space to refuel yourself
If you’re in the process of trying to locate a coworking space in your area, check out Coworker.com to find a good one in your price range near you!
Over To You
Do you work in a coworking space? If so how do you stay productive – especially if you’re in a distraction rich location?
If you have some experience coworking, what do you think makes a good or bad shared workspace?
Join the conversation in the comments below to share your experience!
Great article Matt, something every budding digital nomad has to figure out! I love the tip about the headphones- definitely a ‘signal’ to others that when the headphones are on- you’re unavailable.
Something I’ve found insanely valuable when working for myself I got from ‘The One Thing’ which is planning your leisure time first… if you have a scheduled leisure time, you have to get your important shit done before then, otherwise it will fill up all day!
Couple that with absolutely insane accountability punishments where the pain of not getting your shit done is far greater than the pain of doing your work… and you’re an extremely productive, (albeit slightly crazy to the outside world) solopreneur
Great point about scheduling your work around leisure time. If you don’t plan for fun and exercise, it’s easy to just “work” all day, but usually at low-productivity levels that yield poor performance results. I couldn’t agree more.
As for the accountability punishments, I definitely agree that they’re super effective for many people, However, I wouldn’t discount the power of the carrot for other personality types. I think it just depends on the individual.
Instead of focusing on pain, I have an alternative mindset that super productivity is actually much more pleasurable than guilt-stricken procrastination. Regardless of how we motivate ourselves though, we’ve got to put in the work!
I just found this blog mentioned in Thrive Themes, so I’m checking it out.
Glad to have you Jeff!