Everyone dreams of working from home. Everyone, that is, except home-based workers. When every day promises silence, solitude, and nothing to do except work, housework, and distracting yourself with internet memes, you start to appreciate how coworking builds community.
When I first opened my law firm, (yes, sorry, I am a lawyer by trade), I operated out of my home. I was proud of the fact that it was me, my laptop, and my smartphone. A virtual practice was a great way to save money on overhead and spend it on other things, like food. But I quickly discovered the downside to working from home: there was no one to talk to!
Home-Based Workers Suffer Isolation and Loneliness
Office workers often look forward to a day at home to get work done without interruption. They may complain about the coworker who always stops by to chat at the worst moments, or get frustrated when repeated small distractions interfere with a big project.
But as human beings, we actually get significant benefit from those passing encounters. When you take them away, our happiness suffers. Even when we are doing exactly the job we love we can become frustrated, depressed, and eventually burn out on our work.
It sounds trivial, but isolation and loneliness are significant mental health challenges for the home-based worker. Social psychologists have known for some time that human beings benefit from having a variety of strong ties and weak ties. Strong ties are the connections we have with our family, romantic partners, and best friends. Weak ties include the way we interact with our favorite barista, or with our coworkers — the water-cooler contacts of our lives.
It turns out it is those weak ties — and the number we have in any given day — that dictates our happiness. Strong ties will drive our sense of belonging, but if we are isolated, it cuts us off from the day-to-day social interactions that we subconsciously value, and we can become depressed — even miserable.
Coworking Fights Back Against Loneliness
Flexible working environments are a popular perk for modern employers. 43% of American employees work from home at least part of the time, and 68% of job seekers are looking for the option.
But when the luxury of working in your pajamas wears off and the monotony and loneliness sets in, surveys say coworking may be the answer. The Harvard Business Review rated people who joined coworking spaces at a 6 out of 7 — some of the happiest workers in the survey. The results were so high, the researchers took a second look.
There were many reasons why coworking members scored highly:
- They found their work meaningful
- They aren’t competing with the people around them
- They help each other out
- They develop stronger professional identities
- They felt more distinctive in what they do
Perhaps the strongest reason coworking scored so highly was because coworking spaces focus on community over competition.
That’s certainly true at PatchWork Collective. We don’t just want to be a place to get work done — though that is part of it. We want to build a space that helps you connect with our other members. If you are a freelancer, we want you to be able to find contracts. If you are a remote worker, you can find people in similar industries and commiserate over mutual struggles. If you are an entrepreneur working for yourself, we want to be the place you go for support when times are hard.
Membership at PatchWork means more than a place to get away from the dishes or the dog. It means you are a part of our professional community. We’ll help you stave off isolation and build you up, so that you can live and work better than you could alone.
PatchWork Collective is a community-based coworking space coming soon to Ferndale, Michigan. If you are considering becoming a member, contact us to get on our emailing list.