When to share is to win
Many freelancers and small entrepreneurs have found in coworking a more productive professional environment than working from home.
Elena González is a clear example of the benefits of coworking or coworking. For the past month and a half, this graphic designer has been working with other coworkers on a page on sex education for young people. “The other two autonomous people with whom I am developing the project are in the same office and although we didn’t know each other before, the truth is that we all get along well; so we decided to collaborate,” he acknowledges.
This is not an exceptional case. Labor synergies are common in environments where all kinds of professionals converge. Help in small activities or solve doubts is common in these spaces.
Coworking, an imported model of course, from the United States, is an evolution of the shared office in which cost savings are its main incentive, which is not insignificant in times of crisis. The sector points out that local sharing can lead companies to save up to 60% in fixed expenses such as electricity, cleaning or telephone. And let’s not say more on rent: in cities like Madrid or Barcelona have a fixed workplace in a coworking center around 300 euros, a fairly affordable price that is even cheaper in small municipalities like Elche or Gijón, where it barely exceeds 200 euros.
The possibilities of saving are even greater if one has a flexible job, since one can rent a job per day or hire only certain services. And for freelancers who think home is preferable, since Garage30 have a tip: “It’s a mistake to cut costs by staying at home by having new office models that can get your company growing and your projects come true.”
He was the founder of this coworking centre, Raúl Andrés, the pioneer of this type of work in Spain. “In 2004 an academy was created in the afternoons and as the office was empty in the morning it was decided to change strategy: from being alone and with many expenses to belonging to a group and sharing not only expenses, but mainly knowledge and resources to achieve new and different things,” he recalls.
Money, though important, is not everything. If saving costs and creating job synergies are very striking aspects of coworking, they are not the only ones. “Sharing an office makes us feel less alone in our everyday lives and with more support to face a project,” says Cristina Martínez-Sandoval, manager of Gracia Work Center. In fact, having people to talk to is one of the great demands of the autonomous and that leads many to leave the comfort of the home to leave that isolation. “It is recurrent the comment that they are ‘wishing to leave home’, have a space to receive clients and separate working life from private life,” commented on coworkers Iván logra and Diana Díaz Montón, from Loft to Work.
In addition, work at home requires a great deal of discipline, which is sometimes difficult to achieve because of the distractions of the home. “Coworking allows the creation of more common routines, such as setting a schedule or standardizing working time,” says Enrique Urreta of CINC.
As if they were few advantages, there is another: the good image. A key aspect of working in an office is that, unlike in the home, customers can be received at the workplace, giving a more professional appearance. Many freelancers even opt to reserve areas in hotels or business centres for their work meetings, since they do not have their own workplace, an aspect that is overcome with shared offices.
THE CRISIS, A DOUBLE CUTTING WEAPON
It seems clear that coworking is a highly recommended option, especially when the crisis does not give a break. In fact, you would think that since the economy is going so badly, the joint office business has skyrocketed. In a way this is the case, because many small businesses have seen in this option the best way to save fixed costs. However, in the case of liberal professionals, things change: when you are your own boss, the need to not spend is such that you prefer to submit a professional environment for the savings that it involves to settle in your own home.
In one’s own home, you also earn in privacy. In shared offices everything is shared, conversations flow by subject matter of varied sectors and doing private business can be complicated (especially when these have a certain secret component). An inconvenience that becomes greater when the one who sits next to you in your own sector, come on, of the competition. Many companies are wary of sharing offices with others whose lines of work may get in the way of theirs, and may even “steal” ideas, clients or contacts that they do not always want to exchange. For this reason, many centers in Spain opt for the diversification of coworkers and in their offices there are workers from the most varied sectors.
SUITABLE FOR THE MOST CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE
However, there are already a number of groups that know this system very well and are the ones who use it the most and adapt to it. Entrepreneurs with innovative businesses (usually in the technological sector) and creative freelancers (web designers, journalists, architects…) are the professionals who are more involved with this style of work. Such is the reception among such workers that some coworking centers, such as Loft to Work, have focused their business on concentrating profiles with creative professions: “We believe that this decision favours both the working environment, as we have similar routines and methodologies, as well as the exchange of ideas and projects,” they say.
This has been understood by professionals like Javier Encinas, manager of Serpasat Installations. Two coworkers with whom you share space were working on the creative aspects (graphics, animation, informative web) of an event, and they needed someone trustworthy to perform the entire installation of audiovisual; counting on him was the easiest and most satisfying. “It’s been like having a big company all of a sudden that takes care of everything, everyone in our field, and it was all rolled out having your collaborator at the next table,” he confesses, while acknowledging that on other occasions “they have helped me with my website, online marketing strategies or with the design of my advertising.”
In the case of SMEs, the acceptance of this style of work is also good, a trend that, for some, is already unstoppable: “In the future, big business will see it as a way to feed back talent and gain value in unplanned ways,” says Raúl Andrés of Garage30.
It suffices to rescue a figure of the thrust of coworking in Europe; if in 2008 the number of centres was 22 throughout the mainland, in 2008 it has already reached 120, according to a report presented by the technology company Tech4i2, during Coworking Europe, the first European meeting of the sector. It states that 87% of coworkers have managed to start a project with other professionals with whom they share space and up to 66% say that being in a shared office stimulates their creativity to benefit their business.
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