If you own your own business and have been working from home, and you’ve been on the fence about joining a co-working space, this post is for you. The short answer: Just do it. The cost is worth it, the benefits are worth it, and bottom line (which sounds preach-y but is true), you’re worth it. This month I finally joined Whetstone Workgroup, a co-working space in Sharpsburg. Green Comma now has a business address. Following is a list of some of the benefits I’ve experienced so far:
I’m more Productive
I get in the car, drive to the co-working space, get out my computer and Wacom tablet, work, come home. Most of my animation and illustration work is on my laptop and very portable. If I create a painting at home, I scan it into the computer and can then work at the co-working space. I don’t get distracted by the unfolded laundry, or take breaks to eat peanut butter straight from the jar or scroll through facebook for hours. If I need to schedule a phone call, I make a phone call from a quiet office, not during nap time or standing outside of a cafe.
It’s Less Lonely
If you’re a freelancer, you know working alone can get, surprise surprise, lonely. Not speaking to anyone all day, waiting for a spouse to get home for some regular conversation, is a recipe for misery. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At a co-working space, you run into people around the coffee machine. There’s casual conversation. It’s all the things you’ve missed about being a regular human being.
There’s a Fax Machine and a Business Address
Green Comma now has an office with a copier, fax, and scanner. Before joining, multiple times, I had to send a W9 with my husband to work so he could fax it for me. It’s inefficient in addition to feeling lame. Office space isn’t really optional.
The Coffee is Free, and I’m Not Eating as Many Doughnuts
If you’re going to sit at a cafe for five hours, you’ll need to keep buying coffee and, if you’re me, doughnuts. If you want to work over lunch that means buying lunch, too. I was going to a café three times a week, spending around four dollars each time (usually starving through lunch so I didn’t have to buy anything). That’s $12 a week, $48 a month. Now I get free coffee, I pack a lunch, use the office refrigerator and microwave. Doesn’t that sound sane.
The Cost is Worth It
Let’s work out the numbers. To work at the café, I was hiring babysitters for $14 an hour. I joined a co-working space that includes drop-in childcare for $10 an hour total for two kids. I cancelled five hours of babysitting one day of the week, which saves me $20 a day, $80 a month. Between the $80 savings on babysitting and the $48 on coffee, the $125 per month co-working space is paying for itself. Plus, twice last week I was caught in a pinch, one day the babysitter cancelled, and the other was a school snow day. On both days I brought the kids to the co-working childcare and didn’t miss any work at all.
You’re Not Alone, So It Shouldn’t Feel That Way
According to the Government Accountability Office , contingent workers, which means freelancers, part-time workers, and the self-employed, make up 40 percent of the workforce. You’re not alone, so it shouldn’t feel that way!
As part of a community, you’ll have more support, access to experts in various fields, and people to ask questions (See this article from freelancers union for ways freelancers can help each other. Sidenote that one way to help each other is to write articles about what you’re learning. See: this blog). You’ll be inspired by the work others are doing. Since joining Whetstone I’ve met a branding expert, web designer, product designer, lawyer, Word-press guru, blogger, grant-writer, and other amazing freelancers.
And now, a list of Co-Working Spaces in Pittsburgh
Following is a list of a few good workspace options in Pittsburgh. For a complete list of co-working spaces in Pittsburgh see here.
Each workspace has a different feel. When you visit, you get a sense of whether the culture and environment is a good fit for your work style. Do you like music? Absolute silence? A short commute? Windows? Pastries? Beer? Office supplies? Childcare? Green room? Conference rooms? Device labs? Each space comes with its own unique personality and perks.
2310 Main Street
Sharpsburg, PA 15215
Cost: $125 a month
This is where I joined, and I couldn’t be happier. There are various rooms in which to work–some with individual tables, communal tables, a couch, or a standing desk–as well a conference room available for groups. In addition, there are weekly phone calls with experts in areas relevant to freelancing: lawyers, accountants, IT gurus, design experts, and more. The space is located in Sharpsburg, right off (seriously) the Highland Park Bridge and includes free parking. All the regular office amenities are included. Plus, for those with kids, it is the only co-working space which includes drop-in childcare ($6 for the first child, $4 for the second). Not ready to commit to a whole month? Drop in for a day for $25 and see for yourself (and say hi to me, too).
6101 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Cost: $100 flexible membership (student rate is $50), $350 for a private office
Before settling on Whetstone I also took a look at the Beauty Shoppe, located in East Liberty. At the Beauty Shoppe you can join with either a flexible membership, or pay more for a private office. The upstairs areas, for the private workspaces, are quiet. There are big beautiful windows and attractive furniture. Those with a flexible membership mostly use a space on the ground floor which has the lively feel of a café. When I went there was some music playing, and pastries. There are also small rooms available for private phone conversations, and some other small rooms with whiteboards.
4327 Butler Street, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Cost: $50 a month for a flexible desk, $250 for an office. $10 day passes are also available.
One of the more affordable workspaces. Every work space has a different vibe, and this one offers regular networking events and a device lab with different devices for developers to check their work on. They also have a keg, one of the perks they list on the website.
744 E Warrington Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15210
Cost: Memberships starting at $45 per month
In addition to desk space, Work Hard PGH offers production facilities including a green room and a podcasting and voice over room. The space also fosters collaboration between its members. As an animator, I was drawn to the additional perks of this space, though ultimately I decided the (for me) half-hour commute was a deal-breaker.
So many great options! Try one for a month. This is about taking yourself seriously.
Did you enjoy this post? Check out these other posts in my Green Entrepreneur series (sharing what I learn as I go):