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

Tim Brookes 06-04-2012

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 Meet Your Writing Deadlines In A Distraction-Free Writing Environment With OmmWriter OmmWriter is a writing application for Windows, Mac, and the iPad. It is based on the philosophy that in order to concentrate and be creative, we need a calm and largely distraction-free surrounding. Unfortunately, our... Read More . 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 10 Home Office Workstation Tips: Boost Productivity and Reduce Stress Headaches, fatigue, and soreness could be due to your workstation setup. Recover with these essential home office workstation tips! Read More .

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.


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 Take A Look At Tina's Mobile Work Setup [Show & Tell] A couple of months ago, James revealed his home setup and challenged the rest of the MakeUseOf team to do the same. I don't work from a static location, so I don't have a home... Read More , 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.


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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 [Broken URL Removed]. 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 [No Longer Available]

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.


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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  1. Gemma Reeves
    October 23, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Both options certainly have their own advantages. You just have to pick which suits you better. Take into consideration your budget, interest in privacy, and tolerance for traffic because you need to travel.

    Then again, co-working has worked out pretty well for startups and freelancers. In fact, more and more people are now capitalizing on this option to be more productive in their jobs.

  2. Black and Blue Man
    April 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Tim, thanks very much for this article and those links.

    I've been working from home since late 2010, and although it has its advantages there are elements that I do miss.

    Recently, I spent several weeks working in a Canberra meeting room with several other people, and not only was it intellectually stimulating but the working days just flew past.

    (Heads off to look for shared office and coworking opportunities in Sydney)

  3. Chris Hoffman
    April 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

    It's a pretty cool idea. I can see why it would work for a lot of people -- especially the type of people that like having a physical office to go and people to see.

    But do I really want to spend time commuting and have the overhead of renting an office space and paying for the commute itself? Not for me.

    Still -- it sounds better than I'd expected. It might be an interesting thing to do one day. Or maybe as a one-day-a-week thing and not an everyday thing.

    • Anna
      April 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

      Chris I can see where you're coming from, and you're right, most coworkers don't work in their space 5 days a week. But coworking spaces offer good bang for your buck. The talk about an increase in productivity and business networks is a hard fact, which is more than what you can achieve from a home office. And almost 40% of coworkers report an increase in income too. ( 2nd-to-last infographic). Besides, a coworking space is considered a business expense, and so is tax deductible.

      Personally, I like the fact that home is just home now. I don't work in a traditional office, but still have the luxury of saying that I can 'leave work at work.' With more and more coworking spaces popping up in Australia, maybe there’ll be one near enough to your home to ride to!

      • Tim Brookes
        April 13, 2012 at 5:58 am


        Your comments about home being just home ring so true over here! I was really feeling trapped in the house with little respite from work, because when I finished work I had no transition from uptime to downtime.

        I either felt like I should be working all of the time or I was particularly unproductive due to the distractions found in the house. Now I'm getting more work done than I imagined I would and I've met the best bunch of self-motivated go-getters in the whole of Victoria (ok, maybe not but I must say they're all great).

        If you're in Melbourne at some point you should definitely check out Inspire 9 in Richmond on Stewart Street!