Shared Offices & Coworking: How To Become A More Productive Freelancer

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freelancer workWorking from home might seem like a great idea, but I don’t see it. After more than a year of working from various places of residence I’m thoroughly sick of mixing business with pleasure. Home is where I go to relax, to escape work – and that’s the way I like it.

When the lines between downtime and work-time become blurred, home starts to feel a bit like a rabbit hole. Working from home also offers very little social interaction and way too many distractions. It’s time to stop working from home and set yourself up in a coworking space instead.

Coworking & Shared Offices

Coworking is all about sharing – sharing a workspace, sharing ideas and sharing expertise. All around the world open offices exist that offer a place to work alongside like-minded individuals in a productive environment.

If you’re a freelancer or part of a small team then renting an office is often out of the question. Cost is the main concern as renting an office requires you to sign a lease, pay the appropriate authorities their taxes and take care of power, water and of course Internet bills. This is before you’ve even considered maintenance, restoration, insurance and other hidden costs.

freelancer work

A coworking space provides an enticing compromise. For one fixed price per month you can have your own desk, all the power, water and Internet you could ever need plus you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a room full of skilled, like-minded individuals. Most shared offices offer a trial period or even free to use drop-in desks, so you can decide if it’s for you before arranging your desk toys and family photos accordingly.

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In my experience the share-and-care ethos of co-working is baked-in from the ground up. It’s not just about an affordable office, fast Internet and someone to talk to but also about lending your skills and asking for feedback or advice along the way.

Inspire 9

I’ve spent nearly a month at a shared office in Melbourne, Australia called Inspire 9 which is run by a web-design company of the same name. This den of productivity happened to be my first taste of the shared office scene, and I’m amazed how much more work I can get done while I’m there.

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Luckily for me this particular space has a generous drop-in policy and offers temporary workspaces for freelancers, travellers and those interested in taking on a permanent pitch. This policy isn’t strictly limited to Inspire 9, and all good coworking spaces should at least offer a similar service as a trial period before you commit.

freelancing jobs

I decided to ask Nathan Sampimon, founder of Inspire 9, why he opened this coworking space and how his plan has worked out.

MUO: “So why and when did you set up Inspire9?”

Nathan: “The coworking space was set up about three years ago. At the time we were growing our web development company and we had some spare desks, so it just made sense to open them up to like-minded people who we could work – not with – but alongside.”

MUO: “And how has it gone since then?”

Nathan: “Pretty good. We’ve had more and more start-ups coming through. We’ve really started living and breathing the start-up scene in Melbourne, and that’s become one of our focuses, so much so that we have set up a business incubator to fund start-ups called Angel Cube. It’s just a great feeling the energy of all these start-ups doing what they’re doing.”

MUO: “Do you have any long-term plans for Inspire 9 or are you just going to see how it goes?”

Nathan: “We’re just going to see how it goes. I think the main focus with coworking spaces is that it’s all about the community, so you have to just respond to the community needs. We started out really small and built up our base community and it wasn’t until that base was really solid that we were able to listen to the community before upgrading into the space that we’ve got here, which is quite a bit larger than where we were based previously.”

MUO: “What was the previous space like?”

Nathan: “It was a lot smaller. It was pretty much a renovated apartment building that was used by businesses. It was split across three levels, and it wasn’t as open. That’s when we knew the members we going to be with us no matter what we did, because we were literally stuffed like sardines into this tiny little place. Everyone was really cool with it, then we found this place, spent six to eight months renovating, dealing with permits and making sure everything else was ok. It was tough, but everyone seems pretty happy with it.”

MUO: “Would you have any words of advice for anyone looking to establish their own coworking space?”

Nathan: “Like I said it’s all about community. You don’t have a space, you don’t have a vision – that isn’t the primary factor. It’s all about community. You get a group of people who feel the same way that you do and want to do the sorts of things that you want to do and then build off that. Let them dictate what you build.”

Finding Shared Offices & Spaces

Below you will find a few of the best resources for locating shared workspaces in your city, wherever you are in the world.

Desk Wanted

freelancing jobs

A simple and easy to use website that lists collaborative workspaces and shared offices along with their rates. Each result is accompanied with information such as Internet speed, office size and nearby transport facilities as well as pictures, if available.

Desks Near Me

full time freelancing

Providing a searchable database of coworking spaces, Desks Near Me allows you to book a desk to ensure availability (though not every space requires booking). Results are easy to find thanks to Google Maps, and a handy chart lets you know if your chosen space has enough free desks.

Shared Desks

full time freelancing

A beautifully designed website that delivers a lot of information in a elegant and stylised manner. Each result is accompanied with a description, pricing and space information as well as links to the office’s social profiles and website.

Loose Cubes

freelancer work

A service we’ve featured before on MakeUseOf, Loose Cubes is another site designed to make life a bit easier for freelancers and individuals in need of a desk. Check out Angela’s article for the full low-down.


Coworking in a shared office has done wonders for my productivity. Not only do I get more work done but I’ve met a plethora of fascinating individuals, development teams and some valuable contacts along the way. If you’re a freelancer who is sick of working from home then do something about it – start your coworking adventure today.

Have you tried working from a shared office? Why and where? Add your thoughts below the article, in the comments.

Image Credit: Jolly Businessman (Shutterstock)

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