Co-Working: How to Find Better Office Space

Last Updated Feb 23, 2011 9:21 AM EST

Attention fellow freelancers: If you're bored from working at home and yearning for social interaction, but don't want to hole up in an office alone, sharing a workspace with others can be a productive (and income-producing) solution.

Right now, such "co-working" spaces - which usually provide a desk in a shared office for a daily, weekly or monthly fee - are rising globally. The number of such spaces almost doubled in the past year, from just under 350 to more than 650 globally, according to a directory maintained by DeskWanted.com, a German company that helps freelancers locate co-working spaces. In New York City, Greenpoint CoWorking is one of the newest to open, charging officemates $10 a day.
The benefit? A new study by DeskWanted finds that 76% of individuals who attend a co-working space felt more motivated and productive. (You are less inclined to play Solitaire if you're trying to impress the potential colleague sitting three cubicles away.) As an added bonus, the survey also suggests that paying to work with others may be worth the average $365 monthly investment. That's because a solid 40% of those surveyed said their income had increased since the move; they say the increased opportunities for networking and contact sharing had helped them secure extra freelance work.
Intuit is actually hosting a co-working 'unconference' meetup at next month's South By Southwest event, "a friendly gathering of individuals who are changing the way people work."

It's certainly a move that I've considered as well. My apartment can be too distracting and Starbucks is even more packed since the coffee chain started offering free WiFi. I've found that the local library is suitable when I need to focus and still be in the presence of other humans and not feel totally alone. Plus, the library is free.
Still, the library doesn't offer the freedom to speak on your phone, make photocopies or gossip with co-workers. And you don't always have to rent a space for the entire month. Some offices will let you rent a room or a desk for a few days or a week, too -- which is great if you just need a professional space to meet with clients once in a while.

If you're willing to shell out a few hundred dollars a month for your own 24-hour desk in a shared office space, these sites can help you narrow down some locations close to home.
  • DeskWanted: Find a desk in major global cities from New York to Paris.
  • ShareYourOffice: Offers listings in about 15 U.S. cities, as well as offices in France, Belgium, Australia and Czech Republic. You can also find an office or list your own space
  • Craigslist: Search for co-working (or "coworking") under "Housing" and find listings in your area.
  • LooseCubes: Lists 488 spaces in 172 cities nationwide.
  • Coworking Wiki: An extremely thorough database of co-working spaces all over the world.
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    Farnoosh Torabi is a personal finance journalist and commentator. She is the author of the new book Psych Yourself Rich, Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life. Follow her at www.farnoosh.tv and on Twitter at @farnoosh.

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