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Remote Life at WonderProxy: Coworking

Caroline Dec 07, 2016 Culture

It’s a little known fact that we WonderMinions are scattered across North America and work together remotely. Some of you out there might be wondering: would working remotely be a good fit for me? Would I go crazy due to lack of human contact? Can I work from home or should I find a coworking space?

On Joining a Cowork

When a position for a front-end developer opened up at WonderProxy, it was with much consideration that I decided to take the plunge and give remote life a go. Coming from a company of 200+ people, I needed to ease myself out of an extremely structured and social work-lifestyle into a much more independent role. I felt joining a co-work would provide two key elements that I required: a space separate from my home in which to be productive, and a way to stay social and meet new people in Toronto.

Coworking Spaces

A co-working space is an office-like environment where remote workers, freelancers and small businesses can rent out space. Co-working spaces offer a multitude of various services and may include some of the following:

  • Building access, either business hours or 24/hour access
  • Potent Potables! Such as coffee, tea, beer, cider
  • Events (Meetups, hackathons, lunch & learns)
  • Discounted access to on-site services (e.g. 3D printing or laser cutting services)
  • Meeting rooms, included in your membership or at extra cost
  • Printers, for free or at extra cost

Co-works also typically offer a few types of memberships:

  • Dedicated Desks (e.g. a permanent home for your belongings), currently priced anywhere from ~$300-600 in Toronto
  • Hot or Community desk space, where you’re allowed to use the space but you don’t have a permanent desk, typically around ~$200-300.

In addition to the practical offerings from these spaces, there are ~other benefits. Social pressure can help you to stay on task if at home you’d be tempted by other distractions, such as your pets, your spouse, and the new Gilmore Girls.

Choosing a Cowork

Toronto has quite a few co-working spaces, and I personally toured nine (a little excessive) before I settled on one. Here are some things to consider when looking for the right home for your 9-5.

Distance

What’s your method of transportation? If you choose a co-work closer to home, you get the benefit of walking or cycling to work (yey for exercise!) and you can avoid public transit rush hour. Pretty much a game changer. You’ll also have more of incentive to actually go if you can get there without too much complication.

Co-workers

Some co-works have niches and attract various types of industries. What sort of people are you looking to work with? Do you want to work alongside software developers or are you looking for a more diverse crowd?

Amenities

Does your co-work supply coffee or tea? Is the chair you’re working in comfortable? What sort of vibe do you get from the co-work? While the promise of spa-water, snacks and free beer are alluring, how important are these things compared to other considerations?

## On Staying Productive

So maybe you’ve chosen a cowork, and now what? Here are some things I’ve learned in the past few months that I’ve been a member at a cowork.

Stick to a schedule, mostly

If you’ve historically worked 9-5 and you feel comfortable doing so, stick with your usual schedule. Someone once told me that they did not enjoy working remotely, since they would get distracted and often end up working more hours than they usually would in an office. That being said, it’s fine to make exceptions in your schedule for that especially good 4pm hot yoga class.

Make yourself at home

Buy some little succulents for your desk. You’d feel pretty bad if you killed your office plants. This gives you an incentive to go to your cowork and over-water them. (Don’t forget to give them quirky names)

Desk Plants
Pictured: Desk plants Hazel & Thomas

Befriend your neighbour(s)

Don’t be too shy. Your desk neighbour is usually a decent contender for your WBF (work best friend). Whether it be sharing music or helping each other out with dayjob work, making friends at your cowork can keep work life fun and give you an excuse to take a coffee or tea break with a new friend.

Manage your expectations

You don’t have to do the same thing every day; the work week can feel long. Allow yourself a day or two a week to switch up your location - try a nearby café, of or just work from home if you want a break.

Go Forth & Cowork!

The coworking space I chose for my office home is called MakeWorks. It's a really great space with tons of friendly folks, and we're even having an office Christmas party this year.

With these tips & considerations in mind I hope readers will have an idea of what to expect when looking for a cowork.

Best of luck in your coworking endeavors!

Caroline

Web developer, cat enthusiast & killer of plants. Find me cycling around Toronto, sipping kombucha and plotting the new matriarchy.