Coworking stopped me going insane

3rd April 2017

When I went freelance around five years ago, I was sitting at a desk in my bedroom. It was great – I could work when I wanted, take breaks when I wanted, all that. That worked for maybe a year, but after that, things deteriorated. I felt like the walls were closing in on me, and my productivity when through the floor. I had zero work/life balance.

When your ‘office’ is four feet from your bed, it doesn’t really allow you to have any down time, and as a result, I never really ‘switched off’ from work.

And something else happens that one really mentions – you get super lonely.

Home office, circa 2014.

After my first year, I decided it was time to get out the house, and so I started bumming around coffee shops. An imperfect solution.

Coffee shops are loud, expensive, and you can’t leave your stuff on a table to go to the toilet without worrying someone’ll pinch your laptop. They’re awesome for meetings, obviously, but long term? Not my vibe (although I realise some people are perfectly suited to this lifestyle).

Then, through sheer chance, I ended up shooting for a Coworking Space.

If you don’t know what coworking is, it’s essentially an office filled with individuals or small companies, and you get to have a desk in there for whatever price per month.

As part of working with the space, I sat down with one of the guys who ran it, and after a four hour chat, he asked how he could help – I asked for a desk.

Having somewhere I could call ‘Work’ changed everything. Commercially, I started to make connections with the other businesses in the space. I started to make more friends, which combatted the loneliness and I could even say to clients – “why don’t you swing by the office, we could have our meeting on the roof garden”.

One of the vital things it also added to my life, was structure. Having a definite place I could call ‘the office’ meant that when I was there, I was working, and when I wasn’t, I could focus on my personal life. Suddenly the nebulous, gaseous world of being a freelance photographer started to become contained.

You’re also sitting with people facing same problems, which is amazing for your mental health. Before, if I received a shitty email from a client, I would spend days agonising over a response – in coworking, you can ask the person next to you to help you craft a reply, and both agree that the client is wrong. It also brings you into a community of like minded people who you may not even meet on a regular basis in the rest of your life. I mean, I share an office with the guy who invented an app for people who want to stroke beards for god’s sake.

Anyway, now, I’m leaving my current coworking space to go somewhere new.

I’ve been at SpacePortX now for around three years, and I’m ready for a change. More local to Manchester, I want to get out of the echo-chamber that is the Northern Quarter, make new connections, and meet new people. I am eternally grateful to the team at SpacePortX for introducing me to a wonderful community.

I’ll be over at Accelerate Places on Portland St if anyone fancies saying hi.

Here’s a list of some cool spaces in Manchester if you’re thinking about coworking:

Until next time.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Hi Drew
    Interesting read and thank you for sharing. I have recently become freelance after working as a photographer for a company for 18 years. I am currently using my small bedroom as an office and I can totally appreciate what you went through. It was interesting to see your notice board with all of your notes, mine is just as messy/ organic.
    I came across you by looking at some videos on Pixapro lights. I think you have a great portfolio on your website.
    Once again thanks for sharing
    Kind Regards
    Richard

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