Negotiating Like a Pro at Locus

On Wednesday February 22 Locus Workspace had the opportunity to host one of our own members, Martin Bednář, to speak on the topic of negotiation. The event Negotiate Like a Pro gave us all insights into the best practices for negotiating, with a focus on business situations. 
Martin is an experienced businessman and today a trainer and coach on topics such as sales, marketing, and negotiating. We learned and discussed what it truly means to be in a negotiating type situation followed by the behavior and language necessary to be a skilled negotiator. Martin was a very engaging and knowledgeable speaker on the topic.

Thank you Martin and thank you to all who participated for making the event a great learning opportunity! 

Please stay up to date with our facebook page and meetup groups to attend similar seminars in the future.

Coworking or Working in a Home Office

I have now experienced both working from home and working from a coworking space.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages. As my business changes from freelancing to bringing others on board to help, a home office is no longer suitable.

 
In an ideal world having both a home office and a desk in a coworking environment is the best option.  There are days when it would be great just to stay at home and relax more than I would in an office.  Very occasionally I miss having an office at home during the weekends. – I have ended up working weekends three or four times during the year, so it is not a huge drawback going to the office.

The Benefits of a Home Office

I always like the time saving when working from home.  Breakfast, shower, then work – rather than having to spend time going to an office.  I have sometimes found myself not leaving the house for two or three days, I am sure that is not great for my mental welfare.

Young Children and Home Office

My youngest is now nineteen months.  For the first two months, it was great working from home – though I did a lot less work than normal.  To be there to help was good for everyone.

Not Being Around Other People

I can find other people trying.  It is often much easier to separate myself and get on with work.  I have worked in places where co-workers would be highly negative, be very loud, interrupt with a bloody cat video that you really have to watch because it is such a laugh – there are times when people can drive me mad.
 
However, while working from home I found that a day or two could pass without having a conversation with anyone except my other half in the evening.  Sometimes the isolation was so much that I would walk to the shop just to get out of the house.  So my high points on personal interaction was a brief conversation with a shop assistant.  Not great.

Quiet

At times I need complete quiet around me for some tasks that require deep concentration or while creating videos.  It is impossible in an open office to have good sound quality on videos while others are talking nearby.
 
Thankfully the coworking space I inhabit has a meeting room.

High Self Discipline

During the last ten years, I have worked from home about half of the time.  This has created great self-discipline.  No matter what is going on around me I can sit down and get on with the work at hand.

The Benefits of Coworking

I work now from Locus in Prague.  For my clients, it would make no difference what city I was in.  I have met a few coworkers that use this flexibility to live in and see other cities in Europe.

Professional Environment

Only once while working from home was my office not a spare bedroom. Even then that office turned into a bit of a store room. Due to remotely working with clients I use video and screen share.
I find it embarrassing to have a bed or storage boxes in the background while having calls.  I know many do not like this – but image is hugely important in business, (and in life).  First impression matter.
 
It does not matter if others are in the background having calls or talking while I am on a call – this is what I expect in any office.

Office Address

Like most other around me, I find most of my business via my website.  I have seen competitors use their home address on their website.  It does not look professional; at least a virtual membership in a coworking space looks after this aspect.
 
Additionally, most coworking spaces are in the centre of cities.  This makes it easier to meet with clients.
 
Google local is likely the most important part of SEO for many smaller local businesses. It is much better to turn up in these searches in the middle of a city with higher search volume than in some small village or town.

Everything is Organised

The internet connection is fast and I never have to touch it.  The coffee machine works and I never have to clean it.  The trash is emptied and I never have to think about it.  You get the picture.
A large amount of trivial items that have to be organised in your own office are there and working.  This lets me just get on with work, instead of making lists of things that need to be done that steal away my time.

Being Around Other People

I run a few websites and an SEO company.  Ideas come more often when interacting with others.  I get information from people about tools for writing, publishing, project management, the list is endless.  I understand that I can look up this information online.  Running websites has imbued me with a lack of trust in most information online – everyone has an agenda – as one of my philosophy lecturers who was also a priest told me, as I was arguing about his agenda.
 
We started a mastermind group that includes six members.  We meet every two weeks, talk about problems, set goals, and are held accountable for these.  This has improved my work tremendously forcing me to regularly review goals and stick with them.

Separation of Work and Home

I have been out of my home office and back in coworking for the last three months. This has been the biggest advantage – when I am at home I am not thinking about work and at work I am not thinking of home.
 
While working at home, sometime during breakfast my head would move into work and I was less present for my family.  Lunch could be a challenge to talk about non-work related subjects.  I would eat my lunch and head right back to my office.
 
Now I find myself talking more with my other half during lunch on the phone than I did while working at home – who would have guessed?

Better Concentration Skills

Over time, concentration skills become better if you work in environments that are not completely quiet.  This can be difficult in the beginning and some perseverance is required.  But you can end up being able to work anywhere, which is a great habit to develop.
 

I have made my choice, working in the company of other people is more stimulating, encouraging, and motivational for my temperament. Leslie writes on his own blog, but more often on his company website.

The Benefits of Coworking – a Personal Perspective

Much has been written about the psychological benefits of coworking and being with others. In my case, it has been personal experience that has convinced me of the advantages.

I moved to the Czech Republic from the UK in 2000, and started working as a freelance editor, journalist and translator in 2002. In my early days as a freelancer I worked from home and didn’t mind; in many ways there was no choice because no coworking spaces existed in Prague back then. Cafés are a favourite haunt of freelancers, but much as I love idling away the hours in Prague’s coffee houses, working in them didn’t have much appeal, because I associate them with relaxation rather than earning a living.

But when I started freelancing full-time again in 2011, after several years working for an employer or regularly for a company on an external basis, I found that working at home didn’t have much appeal either. I had learned to be more disciplined and less distracted over the years, but I had also become much more outgoing and sociable than I used to be. And while I have many introverted personality traits and am happy to spend time on my own, I missed the interaction with people in an office, and the structure and routine offered by such an environment.

Thankfully coworking had then become firmly established in Prague, and I spent time at a number of the city’s coworking spaces. I went through a particularly difficult period in 2012 and 2013, when work from clients dried up. The situation has turned around, but coworking was of enormous benefit psychologically during those challenging days. It was a huge boost to be with others, not sitting at home moping. I also made new friends from different backgrounds and countries. I get a buzz from meeting new people from different places, and coworking was a brilliant opportunity to do so. I also appreciated the fact that I could be with likeminded people, socialize with them and go to lunch with them – without any of the office politics that employees have to negotiate.

The positive environment around me also undoubtedly helped me raise my productivity levels and get more done during the day. I am certain that I would not have achieved as much by working at home. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could balance work and having time for breaks and chatting to other coworkers, and getting to know them.

David Creighton

Locus Workspace’s early influences

With Coworking Day just around the corner, this is a good time to reflect on why I originally wanted to start a coworking space and what coworking means to me. There are too many influences for one blog post, so I’ll start at what I take to be “the beginning,” the first time that something akin to coworking seemed noticeably absent from my world and that its profound value became clear to me.

It started sometime around 2000-2001. I was working toward my Ph.D. in the University of Chicago’s Committee on Human Development (now the Department of Comparative Human Development). I needed to submit my dissertation proposal, the final step before doing my research and writing my dissertation (in my case, a cross-cultural field-study examining gamblers’ strategies and beliefs about winning). I was struggling to get into the writing groove (not for the first time). Once I sat down and got started, I would often sit for 10 or more hours without leaving my seat, but–maybe unconsciously aware that I wouldn’t be stopping for a long time–getting started in the first place sometimes took days.

Luckily, a few members of my cohort were in the same position that I was. We were all struggling to get our dissertation proposals finished and we needed other people working toward that same goal to give us that extra push. We formed a small group where we essentially met together to set goals for the week and talk about what we were working on and the challenges we were facing. Two of those friends would meet with me at a university cafe once or twice a week to just sit together and write for the day. Thanks Christine, Susan, Shana, & Jocelyn! I’m not sure I could have finished my proposal without you.

Unfortunately, after the year and a half I was away doing my research, I returned back to a vastly different department, as the students who came back from field work in our department usually did. We were free now to live almost anywhere we could sit and write up our dissertation, and most of us reached that stage at different times. At this point I was ABD (All But Dissertation, meaning that I was finished with all my Ph.D. requirements except writing the dissertation itself). I looked for a group to meet with early in the morning each day, just to get me started, but I couldn’t find anything in the classifieds or on Craig’s List. “In the city the size of Chicago, aren’t their enough people like me who work better with a social commitment to write alongside others?” I wondered.

This time, another friend in the department, one of the few who had the capacity to self-motivate year after year without external support, agreed to meet me for an early breakfast once a week at 8am near the cafe where I liked to work. Thanks Richard! As with the dissertation proposal, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I don’t know if I ever would have finished my dissertation without those morning breakfasts.

Until the weekly breakfasts, there seemed to be nothing that I could do from a self-motivational perspective to get myself going. Ironically for a department that seeks to understand the social and cultural factors that contribute to healthy development across the life span, Human Development provided very little toward the healthy development of it’s own graduate students at the time. Of course, we were not children, and it was our responsibility to manage our own lives, and I took that to heart. My initial reaction had been to focus inward and blame myself. I just don’t have enough self-discipline, I’m not cut out for this, what’s wrong with me, etc. As time went on, my sense of confidence in my own ability to succeed that I brought in to graduate school declined.

What partly kept me going was a strong belief from earlier experiences that my own success and ability to work productively had much less to do with me and much more to do with the social context than the popular contemporary ideal of the self-made person would have us believe. And in this particular case, the pattern was too wide-spread to be attributable to much besides external factors. I was surrounded by fellow students–most of whom had been over-achievers until that point–who were struggling to finish. Often for years. The students who did not struggle for years were the clear exceptions, not the rule. Everything was on our shoulders, most of us were working alone without the support of a lab or a collaborator, meeting with our advisers for feedback once every couple weeks if that. We were involved in trying to finalize our own first major writing & research project, the biggest task of most of our lives. These, I suppose, are the same challenge that most new freelancers or solo-entrepreneurs face when starting their own first businesses, or most undergraduates face when writing their first big paper. The scales are different, but so are the stages in our lives. For most people, social animals that we are, that’s a recipe for declining motivation, increasing self-doubt, and eventual under-achievement. We were a bunch of independent workers, thirsting for social support and some external source of motivation, feedback, evaluation, and validation, but without knowing where to find it. (As an aside, the following year, the chair of the department started a dissertation support group for long-time ABDs that saw five of the six participants finish within one year).

Those meetings, the early ones with the dissertation-proposal support group and with two members of that group to just sit together and write, and the later ones for early breakfast near my “writing cafe,” got me working productively. They were invariably the most productive days of the week. But they also made it easier to sit and get started working on the “off” days, breaking the pattern of avoidance and providing the social connections I needed to keep going on a very big endeavor day after day. We were all a bunch of coworkers, without yet having the concept.

There were several subsequent events that ultimately led me to want to open a coworking space and to a fuller conception of the potential of this kind of business, but those times in graduate school certainly planted the seed and gave me the sense that this kind of business could have real social value. They were also a big part of what convinced me that for most of us who decide to go out on our own as entrepreneurs, freelancers, or artists, the difference between success and failure rarely has as much to do with our own internal character as it does with finding and embedding ourselves within a healthy context of strong social support. So thank you most of all to the current community of coworkers who share Locus Workspace with me. Without being surrounded by your positive work energy and your incredible support and shared experience and knowledge, I would not have been able to last 5 months as a “solo-preneur” (not to mention three years and counting).

August 9th is International Coworking Day

Every year on August 9th–10 days from now–coworking spaces and coworking enthusiasts around the world mark “International Coworking Day” (and hopefully tweet about it using the #coworkingday hash tag). It was on that day in 2005 that Brad Neuberg first publicly blogged the word coworking, sparking the innovative trend that has seen the opening of thousands of coworking spaces around the world.

Neuberg’s original message–in the first few lines of his blog post–goes a long way in communicating my original motivation to start Locus Workspace:

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. 

Coworking has come a long way since this initial description, with dedicated spaces and recognition that there is a far more diverse group of people who benefit from coworking, but the basic idea is the same: working for a company and working for oneself have largely opposed costs and benefits, and coworking can provide much of the solution: coworking adds the community, shared knowledge, continuing education, and social support often provided by a traditional office, while enabling people to follow their own passions and do what they most want to do, a path that traditionally has required giving up the community and support that comes from working for someone else, often at the cost of long-term success.

This August 9th, Locus’s Krakovská location is hosting a Jelly (a FREE open day of coworking for anyone in the area who’d like to join us with their laptops and some work to do to spend the day working alongside others). Locus hosts Jellies in cooperation with some other coworking spaces in Prague through our shared Meetup group, “Coworking in Prague”. Join us for this special Jelly and help us commemorate the 8th anniversary of coworking. You can sign up for the Jelly here.