Today is National Coworking Day in the UK, so here I am … not in my coworking space. But I am contemplating the ways finding that coworking space was one of my best pre-move ideas.
Working freelance and relocating to a new city in a new country is a recipe for isolation. I do enjoy a lot of alone time, but I’m not quite ready to become a hermit. I’m so glad before I moved I found Edinburgh’s The Melting Pot, a pioneer in coworking who have been around since 2007 – before most of us had heard the term.
If you’re still unsure what it means, it’s at a minimum a space to work with either a dedicated desk or a flexible hotdesk. At The Melting Pot, wifi, printing/scanning, bookable private meeting rooms, and – most importantly? – coffee and tea are included.
There are serviced offices that call themselves coworking spaces, but what sets true coworking spaces apart is the effort they put into building community.
The Melting Pot does this partly through member-only and public events, and their focus on social innovation. In other words, they help make your work life better, and help make the world a better place. When I step into that space, I’m surrounded by people working for better transportation for people with dementia, improving workplace well-being, fighting period poverty, bringing engaging science education to children, encouraging bicycle use, and so much more.
As an added bonus, virtual office services are included so I could use it as my business address and have my mail forwarded there before I found a permanent place to stay in Edinburgh.
As with most things, you get out of it what you put in. When I first arrived I was living in an AirBnB with no comfortable place to work, so I quickly used up my 25 hours a month hotdesk membership. But then I was mostly head-down, ploughing through deadlines. While I got some value out of getting out of the house, I’m ironically starting to get more value out of my membership now that I’m using it less as an office.
I now have a good home office setup and have been working at a client office a couple days a week. So because I’m at The Melting Pot less to work, I’ve made more of an effort to get to events, which have connected me to some great ideas and some great people.
Whether you have need of a coworking space or not, look around at what your local coworking organizations have to offer. Events related to the work world, venues for rent, an engaged community you might want to tap into … you don’t have to be a member to get something out of it.