Get in the Sandpit – the beauty of shared working spaces and collaboration

If you’ve ever considered a freelance career or already find yourself in one, then you would have ruminated about the pros and cons of leaving the safety of full-time work.

The common consideration for working for yourself is whether or not you can actually make a living, and not just an adequate living.  But that aside,  there are a number of other negatives which can talk you out of the biggest opportunity to ‘know thyself’ other than just the issue of cash.

Out of all the pros and cons I’ve heard over the years, the one about ‘feeling isolated’ is the one that comes up often. Some people may like space that isolation from others can provide as they say it makes them productive, innovative and lets them focus uninterrupted. But for many it’s not an option.

Some can’t consider working solo simply because they need people to bounce ideas off. They need others around them to motivate and inspire them.  A crowd also keeps them on the straight and narrow: makes them focus on their work and deliver.

This is no small matter. So much so that co-working or shared spaces are becoming the preferred option for many looking to put their shingle out. Gone are the days of expensive long-term leases, IT and communications headaches and fit-out disasters that look like your Nanna’s spare room. People are opting in to share working spaces and the benefits of this are far reaching.

We could work through the long list of benefits of this highly desirable and infinitely groovy way to set-up shop. But the unique situation created by sharing working spaces lends itself beautifully to collaboration. And it goes deeper than the opportunity to  ‘do work’ with others .

Like-minded Go Getters

Co-working spaces, shared offices, or whatever you wish to call them,  puts a group of people together who, because of their very freelance nature, have shown they have the ‘innovation muscle’:  able to take a risk, think differently and seek a new approach. Imagine what can happen when these types begin to work collaboratively?

Niche A-Teams

Finding your A-team for the niche work you do is made easier when you tap the talent in the next office, which in the case of share spaces, is the business sitting right next to you. You can often find that extra skill set you need to get the account just by asking a colleague within your shared space to come onboard for a project.

Exposure to New Learning

Collaboration by its very nature provides  a social learning opportunity which is inherently sticky.  If you work with someone with a different skill set, in a close-knit situation, you’ll find that everyone needs to get their hands dirty together. Here is the opportunity to learn as you work with the support of those already in the know. Think apprenticeship.

Broadening your Network or Client Base

This goes without saying. Collaborative working puts you in front of people you may not have otherwise met. It can get you working in sectors or industries which are new to you. It’s also not just about how your client base could get a boost. You are bound to meet some great people who will become your friends.

Innovating New Business

Shared spaces are known incubators for great ideas because of the diversity of interests, skills and businesses they house.  Instead of focusing on just chasing clients, why not run a hack afternoon with your other tenants and see what you can create or build as a collective to take into market.

Purchasing as a Group

In terms of purchasing power, buying as a group can save you big money whether its computers, Smartphone’s, paper or a sponsored table at a conference.  You may also find some handy connections within the office who can get you a deal on just the thing you need.

Part of Something Bigger

Shared spaces show your business in a professional manner that often can’t be reproduced when you are working out of a home-office.  Shared spaces are designed to present a business environment which has all the inherent features of any large business except it probably has a much better, funkier vibe.  There are the meeting and board rooms, casual discussion spaces and cool decor which all work to give your client a great first impression.  Add in the bustle of others within the office, pursuing entrepreneurial businesses, and your prospects will know yours is a serious business not just some fly-by-night venture.

What are your thoughts on the other benefits of collaboration? Share them with us here.


Libby Fordham started her freelance career at the age of 23 when she picked up her umbrella and resigned her full-time job thinking to herself, ‘If this is what having a job is like then I’ll employ myself.’

She works predominately in the marketing and communications space, providing strategic business advice to organisations across a diverse range of industries and sectors.

She also writes, creates art and hangs out on twitter.