Coworking spaces have gained popularity over the last few years and have been providing freelancers and remote workers with communities and beautiful working spaces, but are they the right choice for freelance translators and their specific needs? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.
It’s all about the money
Pro: In Spain, monthly rates for coworking spaces tend to start at around 100€ and, although they can be more expensive, they are still significantly cheaper than renting your own office space, kitting it out with equipment, and paying the bills.
Con: Although using coworking spaces is cheaper than renting your own office, many freelance translators actually work from home, and coworking costs can be extremely prohibitive. Having said that, many spaces also offer a daily and even hourly rental, so you can still get the benefits of coworking without forking out so much a month.
Become part of a community of digital nomads
Pro: The community aspect of the coworking experience is often hailed as its greatest benefit. For many freelancers working from home can be a lonely experience, and they miss the human connection of working in traditional offices. Not only do coworking spaces bring together like-minded people, but it’s also a great place to network. Imagine you specialize in marketing translation and you share a coworking office with someone who works in advertising; this could lead to new insights into the industry and perhaps even new clients. People who use coworking spaces claim that sharing ideas and skills with others is one of the most significant advantages of this style of working. You might get tips as varied as website design platform recommendations to keyboard shortcuts. Coworking spaces also tend to run events such as art classes, professional talks, or yoga sessions; not something you get in your home office!
Con: Remember that skill sharing goes both ways. Be aware that just as you might grab a techie to ask them a quick question about your computer, people may hit you up with language questions, which can interrupt your work. You also have to be careful not to let the events and networking distract you from your work. Some people truly do prefer to work totally alone, and for them, coworking is not advisable.
Take advantage of those coworking amenities
Pro: These offices are equipped with lots of amenities and services that you, as a freelancer, might not have the money or space to provide for yourself. Facilities range from internet (both wired and wifi), printers and projectors, to meeting rooms, presentation spaces, and snacks.
Con: Translators have specific needs and some of these may not be compatible with coworking. For example, many translators work with two screens. It’s not practical to be carrying around a screen in addition to your laptop and other equipment. This kit can also take up lots of space on your desk and that might not be appropriate for all offices. Other translators rely on dictation software and, while you can use headphones if you are having documents read to you, it could be seen as anti-social and distracting to others around you to be dictating yourself. It’s worth checking the details with different coworking spaces, as they may have solutions to these issues, for example, they may have screens available for rental.
Working amongst others is both motivating and challenging
Pro: Procrastination is a demon many freelancers battle with every day and seeing other people around you working hard in a shared office can be motivating, especially if you are easily distracted and end up doing other things in your house. But beware the temptation to spend too much time making new friends!
Con: There can be a lack of privacy in coworking offices. This could be a concern if you are working with a project where confidentiality is important. Again, it’s a good idea to check with your coworking space about their policy on phone calls and whether they have a designated, private area for them. Don’t forget to make sure you do everything you can to protect your cybersecurity; using a public internet network can lead to easy access for hackers etc., so make sure you have a strong system in place with VPNs and antiviruses.
Commuting: the best or worst part of the day?
Pro: Many of us worry about the fact that our job has us sitting down for the majority of the day. Commuting to a coworking office can be an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise and can even help clear your head; it’s often in such moments when the solution to that tricky Dutch idiom that you just can’t find an English equivalent for comes to mind. Many freelances also say that working from home means it’s hard to separate the home and work spheres, meaning you can get distracted from work by household tasks or find it hard to stop thinking about work at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s good to have separate work and home spaces.
Con: Though a stroll to the office sounds lovely in theory, one of the benefits of working from home is not having to face busy buses, trains or bike tracks on the daily commute. Traveling to a coworking space may feel like unnecessarily adding a stressful journey and unproductive time to your workday. Additionally, lugging around your laptop and other equipment can be a real pain.
Feel inspired and comfortable in your working environment
Pro: Coworking spaces can be stunning locations to work in. Just a quick search on the internet shows that these offices are often beautifully designed, inspiring places. We all know how great it feels to work in an attractive, organized environment, and it can be very difficult to achieve in your home study.
Con: The decor may be gorgeous but it’s not yours. We all have our quirks and preferences; at home or in your office you’ve probably got your chair in just the right position, your desk laid out the way you like it, your favorite snacks in the fridge. While in a coworking space you may find that you have to make compromises with these personal preferences.
There are a myriad of advantages and disadvantages to using coworking spaces and ultimately it comes down to your working style and what’s right for you.
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