Telecommuting has quickly become an accepted and versatile practice that benefits both employers and employees alike. Individuals who work from home enjoy flexible, adaptable schedules—a benefit not usually available to office-bound personnel. Additionally, because telecommuters can work from anywhere at any time, they are not limited to local employers but can instead compete within a global talent pool.
That said, telecommuting does have an obvious drawback: isolation. Full-time telecommuters can sometimes go for weeks or even months without seeing their in-office counterparts. Without regular face-to-face interactions, teleworkers can feel secluded, outside the networking loop and perhaps lagging behind technological innovations. There is a solution, however, one that that offers numerous benefits for teleworkers beyond office fraternizations. What can telecommuters do to help mitigate the impact of isolation, increase their creativity levels, boost productivity and reap rewards beyond those associated with working from home?
Two words: coworking spaces
Brie Reynolds, Director of Content and Community at FlexJobs, writes regularly for the award-winning site, discussing such vital telecommuting topics as transitioning to a flexible work schedule, growing your telecommuting practice and becoming a successful digital nomad. She recently shared her views on alternative workspaces with us on the PGi Blog. At the top of her list: coworking spaces.
As you undoubtedly are already aware, coworking spaces are professionally-managed office spaces often found in major cities around the world. For a typically modest rental fee, telecommuters can rent coworking spaces on an individual basis and have access to resources they could not otherwise afford, such as high-speed internet, phones, printers, fax machines and large-screen monitors. Most workspaces usually offer communal tables, individual cubicles or even private offices. Access to these high-quality office gadgets can increase your productivity, allow you to experiment with new technologies such as virtual meetings and open pathways to new creative potential for those employees who typically work from home and feel stuck in their home office ruts.
Coworking spaces feature eclectic populations composed of individuals with diverse vocational fields, interests and backgrounds who come together to work within a lively, dynamic setting of professionals and entrepreneurs. These environments provide social-professional interactions and support, attracting teleworkers who know the value of getting out and meeting people while still working independently. As a telecommuter—and especially if you are a freelancer—coworking spaces will put you in the company of energetic, like-minded others who can help you crowdsource opinions and ideas and provide feedback on your work.
Recently, Fast Company published an article discussing non-traditional work environments. As noted in the article, whether you’re brainstorming for fresh ideas or troubleshooting problems, immersing yourself in unfamiliar surroundings and crowds can help you generate unique insights, provide novel opportunities and induce new growth. While the appeal for traditional office workers may be that out-of-office work environment are less distracting than their cubes, telecommuters are often attracted to the hustle-bustle and spirited change of pace.
If you’re a regular telecommuter, consider experiencing a coworking space in your city. In addition to diversifying your overall work experience and broadening your professional network, it will give you a great excuse to change out of those day-old yoga pants and meet new people with new ideas.
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