[Originally posted on WorkShifting.com. I am going to be contributing articles about coworking for that site on a regular basis.]

For many people who want to work someplace outside the company office the options are either a home office or working out of a commercial space, like a coffee shop.  But another option for workshifters and independent workers is coworking space, a dedicated workspace in a group setting that offers a number of advantages for non-traditional workers.

Coworking is a dedicated workspace that is shared by a number of people. They are typically membership-based, but with costs lower than those associated with a small private office.  Usually, membership in a coworking space is far simpler to coordinate and manage than a private office would be, and offers far more flexibility.  Coworking spaces typically offer amenities including wifi access and copious electrical outlets, as well as desks and work seating.  Most also have conference rooms, storage lockers, and are in closer proximity to other businesses and services.

While a home office can be set up to provide many of these features, the isolation of being alone away from the company of other human beings can be a drawback to home office spaces.  Coworking provides a space where work is the primary focus of the space, unlike a coffee shop where it is incidental to the main business of the space.  Being in the company of other people is something we humans like, even if we aren’t doing anything directly with any of them.  Home offices can be isolating, and having a place to go and be where other people are working can be surprisingly energizing.

Some people may be able to find this degree of social connection with the other regulars at the local coffee shop.  But the social contact with other workers, even if they are not business colleagues, and being in an environment that is intended to be productive workspace, rather than an appendage of a commercial enterprise, are definite advantages a coworking space provides.  Coworking also sets up synergies and networking opportunities that occur naturally in the course of meeting other people.

Coworking has really only started over the last decade or so.  There are coworking facilities in many major metropolitan areas, with more being developed.   Coworking is certainly not the solution for every worker. But for many workshifters, it can be a solution that serves needs better than the other, more familiar options.