by Brooke Barnes, Guest Contributor
There is a major paradigm shift happening around us at this very moment. Corporate America is now more accepting of remote workers. Major advances in technology (video conferencing, screen sharing, cloud-storage and online project management) make it easier to collaborate across teams regardless of each individual’s physical location.
This is huge for career-minded military spouses! More remote work opportunities means that more military spouses are able to land #PCSProof jobs that will travel with them from duty station to duty station.
It means fewer resume gaps, less uncertainty, less underemployment, more career momentum and upward mobility.
But (there’s always a but isn’t there?), once you land that great remote job and start working from home, a whole new set of challenges kick in. Turns out, working from home isn’t all that easy, especially if you are used to working in an office environment.
Co-working is commonly defined as a gathering or a group of people who work independently but are motivated by the synergy that is created when talented people work in the same space. A co-working space gives you the freedom of working from home, the facilities of a real office, plus a social atmosphere and sense of community.
How can co-working improve your work-from-home lifestyle? Here are 10 amazing benefits of co-working for work-from-home employees.
Separate Yourself from Duties at Home
It’s easy for us to trick ourselves into thinking that a quick errand or load of laundry won’t take away from the workday. But, it does.
Have you ever noticed an intense need to clean when you have an important deadline coming up? You’re not alone! Studies show that when we are put under stress, most people feel a sudden urge to clean or organize their environment. Having a co-working space to visit will help you put down the mop and focus on the work that is due today. The cleaning will be there when you’re finished.
On the other hand, utilizing a co-working space allows you to quit working by a designated time. When we work from home, it can be hard to turn off at the end of the day. Knowing that you have a place to go and be productive away from the home helps to prevent burnout and gives you time to focus on what’s important when you’re at home, like your family, your pets or your latest Netflix binge.
Manage a New Kind of LDR
As a work-from-home employee, you also face the unique challenge of managing a long-distance relationship or LDR with your boss and team back in the home office. A co-working membership is a plus in this situation. Joining a space can help you establish trust and show your boss that you’re committed to your remote role. Your team back home will no longer tease you about working from the couch in PJs!
Return to the Routine, But Not the Grind
A co-working membership allows you to return to the routine, but skip the grind. You go back to getting up and getting dressed for work each day, packing a lunch and making a commute to your new office.
But, since you have a flexible membership you control the schedule. There is no pressure to hop into traffic first thing in the morning, simply adjust your work day to start before or after the morning rush.
Joining a co-working space is the best way to beat the loneliness that crops up when you work from home. You also never know who you will meet or connect with in a space, so joining is a great way to expand your social circle. Most spaces maintain a calendar of networking events at the space or elsewhere in the community. There is always something fun to do with your new team!
Maintain Normalcy Around Schedules
As a military spouse, I’ve found that it is very rare that my husband maintains a 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Instead, his hours change from day-to-day and week-to-week with night flights, early morning show times, and random down days and holidays.
All of which make it nearly impossible to maintain normalcy while you’re working from home.
Co-working can provide an outlet for you to escape and accomplish some work while your spouse is resting up before or after a big shift. Bonus: if your partner has the day off or a 4-day weekend, use your co-working space to zip through important tasks so you can spend more quality time with your loved one when they’re not working.
Learn New Skills
A co-working membership gives you access to a wide range of events and education programming to help you learn new skills. From personal branding to official certifications, a co-working membership can help you boost your resume and move up in your career.
Keep Your Edge
In addition to the formal educational programming provided by your space, there’s also the opportunity to learn new skills through interaction with other members. We call this “keeping your edge,” because you may not learn hard skills that you would list on your resume, but you’ll probably learn about some game-changing professional and productivity tools. These are things you aren’t going to learn about working at home.
The best is when you learn something from a member who works in a completely different career field than you and you’re able to creatively apply it to your own job.
Save Money – No, Really!
If you think you’re saving money by “working-from-home” and bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop, think again. When you’re working at the coffee shop, sometimes you feel the need to keep purchasing items in order to pay for your spot. From coffee to bottled water to snacks you don’t need, all of these items add up.
With a co-working membership, you’ll have a place to keep your own lunch, plus coffee, water and snacks are included in your monthly membership. Many spaces offer business solutions that lessen the amount of things you need in your home office, such as the most expensive internet package, a printer, toner, paper and other office accessories.
Pro-tip: And, in many cases, your co-working membership fees are a tax write-off.
Get Your Co-Workers Back
Chances are, if you used to work in an office the transition to working from home is not an easy one. In the office, you have a built-in community, you are part of a team. At home, there aren’t many people around to cheer you on.
With a co-working membership, there’s never a shortage of people to build you up and keep you moving forward.
Skyrocket Your Productivity
Which brings us to number 10. I bet that while you were reading this list you questioned my sanity on more than one occasion.
“How on earth am I going to get anything accomplished with all that networking, learning, talking and friendship?!”
We call it co-working FOMO and it’s a thing.
Do we stop and chat every so often? Of course!
Is there more action near the coffee pot? Usually.
But, the truth is we spend most of our day hammering away at work projects and checking things off the to-do list. The learning and community-building is the great stuff that happens in between.
Whether you hit up a local co-working space once a week, become a dedicated member or just start co-working with a friend in your living room, it all comes down to community. Or to finding your tribe. Once you do that, you can help each other navigate the unique challenges of maintaining and growing a career as a military spouse.
Are you a work-from-home employee who has experienced the benefits of co-working? We want to hear about it. Share your co-working story in the comments section.
Brooke is the co-founder of edge co-working in Clovis, New Mexico. Her work focuses on building a community where military spouses are empowered to pursue a career doing what they love, with the resources they need to grow, no matter how remote their duty station. She also works remotely as a marketing and communication consultant, helping B2B brands create engaging content and execute successful social media strategies.
In her “free time,” she enjoys traveling the country with her husband Clayton, a member of the Air Force, and building an Instagram presence for their golden doodle, Francis.