Advantages and disadvantages of not having an office.

The number of freelancers in Europe has increased by 45% between 2004 to 2013 (freelancerworlwide.com). Entrepreneurship and remote work have grown at a similar pace. Propelled by (or propelling!) that growth has been a dramatic increase in the number and variety of places from which a freelancer can work, from coworking spaces to laptop-friendly cafés, to serviced private offices, even to hotel lobbies and shopping malls.

But more possibilities can make the choice harder, raising the question: What kind of work space is best suited to the freelancer? Leaving aside hotel lobbies and shopping malls, we’ll focus on four of the most common choices: home offices, laptop-friendly cafés, coworking spaces, and executive suites (private serviced offices ready to move in and start working).
 
The simplest choice is to work from home, which has many advantages:
  • The price: if you can work from an existing room using your existing Internet account, working from home work at home doesn’t necessarily add anything to your monthly rent other than the added utility bills for the extra time you spend there. On the other hand, if you’ll need your own office and don’t have space for it already, space for a home office can cost as much as outsourcing office space. You’ll also have to sink in the initial investment for office infrastructure (desk, chair, lamp, etc.). 
  • The convenience: set your schedule as you want and eliminate the commute entirely. There is no opening or closing time and you don’t even need to leave your bed in the morning to get working (but see disadvantages).
  • Comfort: you dress and work on how you want! There is no rule when you work from home, except for the ones your partner or children make for you (again, see disadvantages)!
But working from home has also many disadvantages:
  • There is no separation between your professional and your private life: if the kids want attention or your partner needs help, it’s hard to say know when you set your own schedule and work from home. On the other hand, it’s also often hard to stop working and make time for friends and family when there are no clear borders between when and where you work and play.
  • Distractions: kids, flatmates, pets, household chores… it’s sometimes difficult to focus on work.
  • Loneliness: whether it is personal life (you go out less and meet fewer people) or professional life (harder to extend your network while staying home), working from home can be lonely, being lonely can be depressing, and being depressed makes it to do your best work.
  • Motivation and procrastination. Even if you don’t feel lonely, working alone removes many of the external social motivators and feedback that helps most people stay motivated and to stop yourself from binge-watching the final three seasons of Breaking Bad
  • Too much comfort and convenience (a.k.a., “Why are my family and friends staring at me with concerned looks?)”: While it’s wonderful not to have to leave your bed or worry about what you wear, if you’ve worked from home for a while, you may have noticed that you aren’t actually spending much time in the civilized world anymore, where people do things like dress or take showers (or speak or move their legs).
  • Stagnated learning and professional development. It’s hard to find a mentor, a collaborator, a teacher, or just an answer to a simple question such as where to print business cards in the neighbourhood when you’re at home all day.

Working from a café is another choice appreciated by freelancers. It also has its advantages and disadvantages. However, with Cafes there are many factors left to chance and your luck:

  • It creates a separation between professional and personal life: just changing your place of work and getting out of the house will give you this separation.
  • A motivating social atmosphere: sometimes just the mere presence of other people working on their laptops can provide a break from loneliness and the motivation to work that working from home cannot. It’s a lot harder to escape from reality and watch the final episode of Game of Thrones from a cafe when you feel the judging eyes of other laptop workers on your back than it is from home if you live alone (but see inconveniences).
  • Price: Cafés can be even cheaper than working from home because the real estate, Internet, utilities, and desk and chair are all free. But, again, see inconvenience.
The inconveniences of working from a cafe are:
  • The security: it is possible to get your belongings stolen while you are in the restroom, or even to get your passwords stolen (public WIFI so it’s not secure).
  • The schedules: you will have to follow the café’s schedule and adapt your work day to it.
  • Lack of privacy: the fact of being surrounded inevitably leads to a lack of confidentiality.
  • Non-professional space to meet clients or even to talk to them if the cafe plays loud music or has constant loud background noise. 
  • Just as the environment can be stimulating and socially rewarding, it can also be distractingmusic, loud or strange customers, the constant grinding of espresso machines, people wanting to start conversations all point to an environment that can be very hard to work in.
  • Price: While cafes can be free, they can also be more expensive than even a private office once you factor in the expensive drinks and food you end up buying. You might easily find yourself spending upwards of 5000 CZK / month on overpriced coffees and the kind of food your waistline and doctor love, but your significant other would rather you did without.
  • Reliability: Café WIFI connections are notoriously (and often intentionally) unreliable. Electrical outlets can be hard to find or unavailable, and if you like to work from the cafes that other people like, too, it may be a matter of chance whether you can find a seat to work from.
  • As with working from home, cafés are limited with respect to professional development and learning, and other forms of more meaningful social connectedness that comes from working alongside people you have a chance to get to know.
  • Nowhere to store your things when you go out for lunch or leave for the night. You’ll need to carry your entire office in and out of work every day.
 
Another possibility we often forget about is the library. Indeed, most of them are open for all for free and they have a lot of advantages:
  • The price: most of them are free, as mentioned above.
  • The atmosphere: if you like calm and quiet places, there is nothing better than the silence of a library (but see disadvantages).
  • Create a separation between your professional and your personal life: just the fact of changing of place for work will help you creating this separation.
Libraries also have their share of disadvantages:
  • The security: it is better than most cafés, but not by much.
  • The schedules: you will have to adhere to the library schedule of the library and adapt your work day to it.
  • The atmosphere: while the silence can be great if you need to concentrate, many people feel a sense of oppression or loneliness in the silent open spaces of libraries. If you need to make calls, you may need to leave the library to do so. And if you want to have some food or drink while you work, many libraries forbid it.
  • Lack of privacy, non-professional, and socially isolated: Libraries are more like cafes with respect to their lack of privacy and non-professional environment, and more like working from home with respect to social isolation. The worst of both options in these respects.
 
As mentioned above, there are companies which rent private ready-to-use offices, known as executive suites. Here are the advantages of this offer:
  • Create a separation between professional and personal life: just the fact of changing of place for work will help you create this separation.
  • Security: you can leave your belongings in your office without being scared of getting them stolen, and the WIFI is secured.
  • Professional environment and location: executive suites often provide answering services and mail services. They have top-notch printers and high-quality internet. And they have meeting rooms and office resources that would cost a lot more money than most of us are ready to spend, even if we had space for it, for a home office. They are often also located in great locations in urban centres. But see shortcomings.
  • Privacy and confidentiality: you can meet your customers in a professional location without having to worry about prying eyes or ears. If you like the privacy you get from a home office, but want a higher degree of professionalism, executive suites can be the perfect option.
  • Flexibility: Executive suites are furnished, the Internet is ready to go, and professional office infrastructure is already in place, so you can get to work on the same day as you sign the contract. Leases, too, tend to be possible for shorter terms than the standard 1-year lease you’ll be required to sign if you rent a standard office space. But see shortcomings.
However executive suite office rental also has shortcomings:
  • Price: While they remove the initial cost and time that comes with setting up your own home office or unfurnished private office, they are definitely the most expensive option on a month-by-month basis.
  • Location: while executive suites are often available in city centres, they are limited to larger urban centres, and often even there most of their locations are in office buildings off freeways inconvenient to residential neighbourhoods and impersonal in their feel. They aren’t accessible to everyone.
 
Finally, coworking spaces. A coworking space is a company which provides space for work to independent workers, unlike executive suites, they specialize in the quality of their open work areas and they focus on the quality of the community among the people who work there, even though those people work independently. Like all the others it has its share of advantages and disadvantages:
  • Professional environment and location: Like executive suites, coworking spaces provide professional work environments with resources like meeting rooms and printers and data projectors and high-quality Internet provided as a matter of course. Even more than executive suites, they tend to have a wide range of locations from city centres to more residential neighbourhoods, with the rate of growth so rapid it may not be long before they are as plentiful as cafés.
  • The atmosphere of coworking spaces varies widely ranging from more café-like to more executive-suite like, depending on whether you prefer working in an open space or prefer to have a private office. Although many coworking spaces are open-plan offices, almost all of them provide mixed-use spaces, like meeting rooms and skype calling rooms. Some even provide silent workrooms alongside noisier collaborative rooms, allowing members to choose the environment best for them given their particular task at hand.  
  • Create a separation between your professional and your personal life: just the fact of changing of place for work will help you create this separation.
  • The community: the initial motivation behind coworking spaces was to provide the professional development, collaboration and social support you get from working in a traditional office while getting rid of all the office politics, bureaucracy, hierarchy and lack of decision-making independence that also goes with that. Coworking gives you that community by providing a space where you can work alongside other like-minded people, but since you all work for different organizations, it gets rid of the office politics. They tend to organize events and have networks for communication among members to build that sense of community and connectedness in ways that you’ll rarely find in an executive suite or at a café.
  • Extend your network, get quick access to local knowledge and develop as a professional. As with working for a traditional office, but unlike any of the other options listed here, coworking spaces offer workshops and other events so you can continue to learn and grow in your area of expertise. If you’re starting business in a new city or country, they also provide a kind of local knowledge that no other option can provide because you will be working alongside many other people who did just what you did as well as long-time locals who know the ins and outs of living and working in your new home. By facilitating community and collaboration, they also help you network, learn, and cooperate with other members of the space, providing complementary skills and knowledge requiring no more than turning your head and asking for help.
  • Security and storage: Unlike cafés or most libraries, you can store your personal belongings in lockers in the space and also feel more secure when leaving your laptop at your desk, knowing that the other people in the space are your colleagues.
  • Flexibility: many coworking spaces provide 24/7 access (though many don’t, so if that’s important to you, be sure to check), and most also provide short-term memberships as well as longer-term commitments (Locus has day passes for non-members, evenings & weekends memberships, and as little as 1-day / month for those who want to be members), with monthly commitments being the norm rather than the exception.
  • Price: Coworking spaces are a prime example of the sharing economy, allowing freelancers to have meeting rooms, great office locations, and high-quality office infrastructure at a fraction of the cost they would pay for setting these things up in their home office. They save money on real-estate since the work areas are shared. Coffee and tea are usually free, saving money relative to cafés. They also tend to be less expensive than renting a small furnished office, while offering many benefits a private office cannot. Many coworking space members also find the increased professionalism of the environment and the improved network of social connections brings them work they otherwise would not have gotten, more than making up for the cost of the membership. But see disadvantages.
Of course, coworking spaces also have disadvantages:
  • Comfort and convenience: if you don’t struggle with loneliness or procrastination, you’re disciplined enough to start and stop working when you ought to, you don’t have family at home from whom you need to escape in order to be productive, and you don’t need the professional environment of an office, then nothing beats the convenience of working from home. Indeed, the flexibility and convenience of working from home are why many of us left the traditional office environment in the first place.
  • Price: While most coworking spaces are inexpensive relative to private offices or executive suites, nothing beats free. Home offices, libraries, and cafés all have the potential to save the freelancer meaningful money, particularly if you are struggling to make ends meet as it is, or if you will not offset the membership cost with other less tangible financial gains that often come with a coworking-space membership: client referrals and increased motivation and productivity.
  • Distractions and lack of privacy: being surrounded by people inevitably leads to a lack of privacy and to distractions from the conversations of others that you wouldn’t face if you live alone and work from home or work from an executive suite or private office or even library. If you don’t need the community and social connectedness that most people join coworking spaces to get more of, or you like to work in silence, you may be better off with one of those alternatives. Alternatively, find a coworking space that has private offices. Though a private office in a coworking space will inevitably leave you less socially connected to other members than if you worked in an open-plan coworking space, you’ll have more opportunities to collaborate and connect than with other options in this comparison, and you’ll still get the privacy and quiet that fits your needs (Locus does not have private offices, but we’re happy to suggest coworking options that do).
While every option has its advantages and disadvantages, the good news is that unlike working from a corporate office, as a freelancer you really don’t have to choose. You can mix it up, working from home, cafés, the library, or a nice coworking space depending on your mood or the need. If you still don’t know whether coworking is right for you, we encourage you to give a couple spaces a try! You can get a free day in Locus, no strings attached. Better still, try us out for a month and get a real sense as to whether Locus is right for you! First-time members get 1000 Kc off a Full-Time Membership for the first month.

The Impact of Coworking

The Impact of Coworking
The Impact of Coworking

What is coworking?

Here is Brad Neuberg’s original conception (this blog post represents the first public expression of the term as it is used today), which we think captures the spirit as well as any other definitions out there:

Traditionally, society forces us to choose between working at home for ourselves or working at an office for a company. If we work at a traditional 9 to 5 company job, we get community and structure, but lose freedom and the ability to control our own lives. If we work for ourselves at home, we gain independence but suffer loneliness and bad habits from not being surrounded by a work community.   

Coworking is a solution to this problem. In coworking, independent writers, programmers, and creators come together in community a few days a week. Coworking provides the “office” of a traditional corporate job, but in a very unique way.

Here’s one of our favorite definitions, from Coworking.com, managed by a team of coworking space managers and owners who have been central to the coworking movement from its early days: 

The idea is simple: that independent professionals and those with workplace flexibility work better together than they do alone. Coworking answers the question that so many face when working from home: “Why isn’t this as fun as I thought it would be?” 

Beyond just creating better places to work, coworking spaces are built around the idea of community-building and sustainability. Coworking spaces uphold the values set forth by those who developed the concept in the first place: collaboration, community, sustainability, openness, and accessibility.

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How was coworking born? 

Some think that coworking is inspired by the artist’s studios of the beginning of the 20th century. Indeed somdther and work alone or together. These places were created to improve creativity by meeting inspiring peoples, and to make an economy by sharing the cost with others. 
The aim of these places was almost the same as coworking spaces as we know them today.
It’s in Silicon Valley in 2005 that the concept of these collaborative workspaces really took off, with the creation of the first « real » coworking space in San Francisco by Brad Neuberg (at least in name, though there were several similar spaces that didn’t use the coworking moniker that began the same year in other places).
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Why join a coworking space?

Coworking spaces offer dynamic locations of exchange and sharing. Freelancers, entrepreneurs, and creatives from diverse fields enlarge your network, but more importantly serve as a resource of experience and knowledge and potential collaboration or inspiration. For many members, however, the most important benefit is purely the positive social energy. Members often feel more motivated surrounded by other focused, hard-working members. 

One of the biggest benefits is improved work-life balance. Location-independent professionals often work from home or from cafes and face one of two common challenges. Either they spend too much time alone and miss the social proximity and social connections they used to have before they were independent OR they have a partner or children at home and have difficulty explaining to their partner or kids that they really do need to work even though it’s true that they set their own schedule.

Most coworking spaces also organize events that help facilitate both the social relationships, motivation, and professional development. Locus, for example, organizes weekly coffee breaks and lunches, and monthly pub nights and game nights to facilitate meaningful social connections. For motivation, Locus hosts weekly Work Jams, where members sit together at the same table and use a timer to work together for a half day with planned breaks, and weekly critique-free writing meetups to help provide a sacred time and place, and positive social energy, for focused writing. 

Coworking spaces promote sustainability as key players in the sharing economy. They allow members to dramatically reduce commute times because they are often located in the neighborhoods where their members work, and they reduce operation costs and startup time by providing great office infrastructure to members who could never justify having meeting rooms, data projectors and other high-quality office equipment in central locations if that space was not shared among many other location-independent professionals. 

Many coworking spaces also serve as a kind of landing zone, helping to connect global and local. About 70% of Locus’s members, for example, come from countries other than the Czech Republic (nearly 30 different countries), with the language of the space being English. This allows newcomers to Prague a ready way to form a community with other people like them, and also with English-speaking Czechs who are welcoming to an international community and reading to share local knowledge. Czech members, who make up about 30% of Locus’s members, get the complementary benefit of ready access to a friendly international community and a workplace where they can practice their English on a daily basis.

Finally, coworking spaces simply offer convenience and accessibility. Coworking spaces have become so widespread that as long as you live in a large city they will often have options that are centrally located OR in your neighborhood, with 24 hours a day, 7 day a week access, and with membership plans that meet your particular needs. Locus, for example, is in both a central location and one of the most prized residential neighborhoods in Prague, Vinohrady. It offers all members smart-phone based access 24/7, 365 days a year, and has membership options from as little as one day per month to unlimited use. For the many members who travel abroad but would still like a reliable office in Prague, there are options to put your membership on hold for up to a year. And for members who already have a full-time day job but want to start their solo career, there’s an Evenings & Weekends option.

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Some statistics about the impacts of coworking 

According to global research by Deskmag and Deskwanted:
  • 74% of coworkers are more productive,
  • 86% have a larger business network,
  • 93% have a bigger social network,
  • Over two-thirds feel more creative and collaborate more on projects
  • A third reported an increase in income.

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Still not convinced?

Come and try a day of coworking for free at Locus Workspace

Sources

https://www.business.com/articles/coworking-74-of-coworkers-are-more-productive/
http://codinginparadise.org/weblog/2005/08/coworking-community-for-developers-who.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coworking

Making Dreams Reality with NaNoWriMo

Making Dreams Reality with NaNoWriMo

by Beth Green

Today is Halloween, so it’s an appropriate day to ask: What are you afraid of? What specific dread creeps up on you in the dark, when you’re alone?

Many Locus members, I suspect, share one of my fears: The fear of leaving a dream unrealized.

That one project you’ve always wanted to dive into; a pool of potential that only you recognize. Whether that’s a side business you know would be a hit, a spec project that could have real damn legs if only you could take the time to tinker with it, or a creative oeuvre no one is paying for (yet) but you just know deserves to be made real.

A few months ago, Locus Workspace owner Will Bennis sent out a survey asking us about these types of projects. As he called them, “the ones that stay in your mind for years.”  Exactly half of the respondents confessed that they had nurtured a project idea for years that they had not yet managed to complete.

It is for this half of the population that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was created. And is this group within Locus Workspace that I would like to invite to the NaNoWriMo Write-Ins that I’ll be hosting on November 4th and 25th in the big conference room. (OK, I lied. All Locus members are invited!)

What is NaNoWriMo?

In case you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, a quick explanation: It’s a 30-day event, held in November, in which participants challenge themselves to write the first, hilariously messy draft of a 50,000-word novel. In other words, it’s an opportunity and a blueprint for setting aside time to get one of these big projects out of your head and into the real world.

For most NaNoWriMo participants, this is a novel, but NaNoRebels may choose to write a series of poems, or essays, or work on a thesis, or storyboard an indie film, or whatever their beautiful, messy minds come up with. In the past 15 years, I’ve personally used NaNoWriMo for momentum to edit existing drafts and do a series of travel memoir essays in addition to novel first drafts.

Now do every one of the projects that the estimated 400,000 participants (last year’s numbers) take on turn into a masterpiece? Maybe not. But many do. NaNoWriMo projects that ended up as published novels include Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (later a movie), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Wool by Hugh Howey.

Much like you might join the gym to help you get ready to run a marathon, or take salsa lessons to make sure that you don’t embarrass yourself at your cousin’s wedding next year, or any other kind of small incremental goal that leads up to something more significant, NaNoWriMo encourages you to think of novel writing as something that you practice a little bit each day to work towards one giant goal.

And that’s a takeaway for all of us.

OK, What’s a Write-in?

Though the NaNoWriMo founders maintained that everyone could write a novel with just the scraps of free time that we have when waiting for the tram, for rice to boil, for the conference call to be over, most of us find it helpful during the month to set aside longer chunks of time to write.

At the write-ins on Nov. 4 and 25, we’ll have a quiet, welcoming space (and coffee and donuts! And official NaNoWriMo swag!) for anyone who wants to come and work on their writing project. Often, we use Pomodoro sessions to help focus, and sometimes we set group goals or talk over plot problems. (For more info, check out my blog post from last year’s write-ins)

You are welcome to come to our write-ins, even if you’re not participating in the full NaNoWriMo event. The more, the merrier!

Happy writing!

RSVP links

Sun, Nov. 4th, 10:00-4:30
Sun, Nov. 25th, 10:00-4:30
http://meetu.ps/c/LTHg/jl88s/f

Other Opportunities to Write at Locus

Interested in other opportunities to work on a big project with the moral support of other writers? The Prague Writers’ group holds weekly critique-free writing sessions on Saturdays at Locus. Learn more at:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/263394070348958/

Come Write at the NaNoWriMo Write-Ins in November!

You don’t have to write alone! Come to the NaNoWriMo write-ins on Nov. 12 and 19!
byPhoto by StockSnap via Pixabay w/ CCO license

By Beth Green

The first time I experienced the spirit of coworking was about 14 years ago, right here in Prague. Someone I knew had roped me into this crazy challenge—we were setting out to each finish a novel in a month by writing 1,667 words a day.

Now of course I, like many of you, had always dreamed that one day I’d write a novel. But was “one day” really turning into “today?” And a novel in a month? Preposterous!
The first few days of the challenge, I pounded away on my keyboard dutifully. The words started to accumulate. The story started to take shape. But as work and life intervened over the course of the first week of November, my drive started to wane. I was ready to quit the challenge. The goal was to write 50,000 words—and I was about 45,000 away. But my friend convinced me to come to a meeting she was holding—a “Write-in,” saying she’d re-energize me and my story.
Nervous, and quite skeptical, I entered the small café in Nove Mesto my friend had chosen. I was late (people, I’m always late) and so a lot of writers were there before me. Laptops and notebooks were spread everywhere and beer mugs and wine glasses filled in the rest of the space. I chose a chair, pulled up the manuscript I was working on and stared at the blank screen like usual.
But instead of being alone at home where the voice of my “inner editor” could taunt me by pointing out that my rough draft was really, you know, ROUGH, I was in a place where everyone seemed to blissfully ignoring their own self doubts. They were typing and scribbling furiously, all trying to create something out of nothing. (Well, except the guy at the end of the table. He was drinking beer and hitting on the waitress by telling her he was a Writer. You know, that guy.) And soon, I was in The Zone too—writing pages and pages of my new draft. Ideas came more easily and what the folks at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) call the “plot bunnies” were all working in my favor.
Since then, I’ve attended NaNoWriMo Write-ins in countries around the world, in noisy coffee shops in Hong Kong and China, weird basement restaurants in Thailand and, of course, right here in the comfortable meeting rooms of Locus Workspace.
Locus NaNoWriMo Write-in 2016
Photos by Beth Green
This November, I’d like to invite the other members of Locus to join me, the Prague Writers Group, and NaNoWriMoers from around the city to come to Write-ins at Locus and tap into that creative coworking spirit together.
Though writing is generally a solitary activity, Write-ins (and the NaNoWriMo community online) help make it a shared endeavor.

The goal of the Write-ins is to simply write. Show up, put your fingers on the keyboard or your pen on the paper and let your creativity do the rest. At the beginning of the meeting you can state goals for the session, if that helps you. I’ll also bring donuts and NaNoWriMo stickers for the people who get there early, so there’s also that. 😎

Check it out! I got some writer goodies to pass out at our Write Ins next month! #nanoprep #NaNoWriMo17 #amwriting pic.twitter.com/q3TSNS6Oar

— Beth Green (@Bethverde) October 26, 2017

Though we’re holding these Write-ins for NaNoWriMoers to get closer to their goals of writing 50,000 words in November, the time is open for any Locus member who wants to come and write or work on another creative project in solidarity with the writers.
When: Sunday Nov. 12 and Sunday Nov. 19 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. each day.
Where: Locus big meeting room
Cost: Free
Let me know you’re coming at one of the event links:
November 12th:
November 19th:
What is NaNoWriMo? Learn more at nanowrimo.org

The C in Coworking Space Also Stands for Community

We’re excited to be “syndicating” a blog post from Robin Terrell’s amazing blog on the future of work (with a particular emphasis on the location-independent variety): The Global Mobile Worker. This post in particular was meaningful to us because it’s about the meaning of community, and in particular the community Robin found (and helped create! – Thanks, Robin!) at Locus.

Along with creating this blog and being a member of Locus, Robin is a Berkeley-educated lawyer, a writer (her book, Two Broke Chicasa travelogue about her adventures traveling around Central & South America, Mexico, and Cuba with her partner–is available on Amazon), a technology / startup junkie, a proud Amazon employee.

We’re excited to be able to share her blog post here…

wordgram-of-cowork
When I first arrived in town I used Meetup to find people who shared common interest. That led me straight to Locus Coworking space. Once in the door, I quickly connected with both the startup community and the writing community, common members of co-working spaces. It has been almost three years now and although I never signed up to co-work at Locus, I realized that I spent time in one of the two spaces at least once a week.
When my new job took me away from Prague for months, my homecoming included reconnecting with my friends at Locus. I write every Saturday with a dedicated group, committed to various forms of media that involve the written word. We have bloggers, and novelists, and game script writers, and PhD students writing a thesis. We come from different countries, different generations, different genders. Our bond is a long-term fascination with words on a page.
It was through Locus that I joined my E-publishing Mastermind group that has single-handedly taken me from talking smack to preparing to upload my first ebook, Two Broke Chicas, a Travel Series, December 26th, just in time for people to use their Christmas gift cards and make their New Year’s Resolution to travel more. Mentor members, like successful sci-fi writer, Bill King, have made my dreams come true.
While plopped on a big fluffy couch to wait for the group to start, I realized how important Locus was to my social life, and sense of being, in Prague. What my virtual membership gave me access to, besides one day a month and access to my e-Publishing Mastermind group, was a community. A place I could belong with people who shared my passion for a flexible work life.

Community = Thrive

Just like we need a Tribe, we need a community. Research found that people who belong to a co-working space report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices. Read more: Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces
infographic-co-work
Grind, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Community manager, Anthony Marinos, shared, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”
Research in Forbes magazine showed that entrepreneurs with larger and more diverse networks grow their businesses bigger.Co-working spaces can be a place for women, known for being great communicators and collaborators, who don’t excel at building power networks can find a safe space to start. (Women tend to build deep and narrow networks women-networkwhile men wide and shallow ones.) I’ve added several women to my network from Locus, and started an informal dinner group to encourage young professional women to support each other, over a glass of wine.

Building Intentional Communities

Some experts believe that co-working space should be built more like intentional communities. Example, Brooklyn’s Friends Work Here. Founded by NYC-based Swiss-born designer and entrepreneur Tina Roth-Eisenberg, who’s also behind the international lecture series CreativeMornings (which happens monthly in Prague, but mostly in Czech) and Tattly. The space came as a response to Roth-Eisenberg’s negative experiences in “soulless” coworking places that are more focused on making money than cultivating inspiration among its members.

A Wealth of Human Resources

Locus is how I found my brief dog-sitting gig. I enjoyed several days of pretending to own a dog, forced to take several walks every day, which did wonders for my mental health. I’ve enjoyed people passing through town and people here for the duration, like my friend Sarah who first came when it was Czechslovakia, and still communist. She is at heart a historian, writes historical fiction, and loves talking about the history of this country she calls home, as a well-informed outsider.
It was hysterical and inspiring to sit in on Texas Holdem’ Poker night, where people from around the world turned into ruthless gamblers who might gut you for a pair of Ace. It was motivational to listen to Regina and Mike talk about becoming Courageously Free, and through that relationship I was interviewed for their podcast – which should be out just in time for my book launch.
There were people at Locus doing, looking for, thinking about the exact same things as I was. We all wanted to marry our fascination with social media and our passion for words. I could pick the brains of people who, like me, were inspired by Prague, determined to make their literary dreams come true. We figured out all kinds of ways to make money with words. My critique and Saturday writing buddy, Beth Green, will fix your words for a fee. Which still leaves her time to search for an agent for her first novel, represent on Booklust and @bethverde, and be a Wanderlust columnist at thedisplacednation.com.
My writing group has sustained me, in ways both creatively and emotionally, over noodles and pivo at the Vietnamese restaurant down the street from Locus. We’ve discussed our lives and our loves, U.S. and European politics and the meaning of feminism.
We’ve shared critique groups and book front-cover
launches, like Sonya’s soiree for Under a Caged Sky, held at Locus Slezka, where we toasted with glasses of wine under the skylight, with Prague as the backdrop.

Staying Engaged

partyOnce I’d had that moment of realization, that my co-working space was my community, I started to look around for other ways to participate. Engaged in the social media connection and found easy, fun ways to stay involved. I am looking forward to the Christmas Party catered by Ethnocatering, a social enterprise of migrant women that serves authentic food from Georgia, Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Armenian. You can’t find this deliciousness in restaurants. I know, I said it, that bad M word. Well, I must own it because here in Prague, I’m a migrant. A tax paying, law abiding expat seeking shelter and new beginnings.
I know I’m not alone in this revelation and would love you to share your experience of finding community in co-working spaces. Tell us your story in the comment section here at the Global Mobile Worker Project.