Businesses big and small are making the switch to remote-only or coworking space for more than just cost savings.

By Graham Beck

As businesses invest more in things like innovation and technology, our work methodology too has made significant leaps as a result. After all, adapting and embracing new changes—regardless of the industry—and continuing to challenge the existing ways of working is the key to ensuring long-term success.

Hardly a decade ago, a remote work setup would leave employers balking, but in today’s rapidly tech-transformed world, more and more companies are embracing remote work arrangements as part of a productive modern workflow all while allowing a more balanced work/home life for their employees.

With increasing internet speeds and burgeoning technology, video chat has never been easier. Out-of-office workers can now seamlessly connect with their peers and hold meetings in real time with clients. Additionally, businesses big and small are making the switch to remote-only or coworking space for more than just cost savings.

Amenities like free coffee, snacks or even beer-on-tap aside, simply sharing a space with other entrepreneurs and companies outside of the traditional office can be a really exciting and inspiring environment.

The Perks

You can play with the numbers as much as you want but the truth is, co-working and remote work will undoubtedly save your company money in the long run. Paying for an entire space while also maintaining the utilities, stocking supplies, and managing it day-to-day adds up. Being able to let that lie in the hands of dedicated experts is an incredibly freeing exercise that permits you to focus on the most important task—running a business.

Not only will productivity increase by not having to maintain the monthly water cooler order or fix copier jams, but now there’s an added opportunity to interact with new ‘coworkers’ daily. The professional collisions that happen at co-working spaces can lead to new business deals, partnerships, clients, and vendors.

Tools to Stay Productive

Whether you’re a solo freelancer, just starting your own business, or you’re joining a team that is fully remote, there may be times in your career where you’re on your own. This also has its perks but will take more discipline to optimize a productive work schedule.

For starters, there’s no commute to worry about. If you’re located in any major metro area, not having to commute is a game changer and will add hours back to your life.

But how do we stay productive when working remotely?

First, you’ll want to have a good system in place for communication. Email threads won’t cut it anymore—instead, get on a team chat like Slack. Channels allow you to keep your projects organized and threading conversations keeps the distractions to a minimum.

Check out how this team uses slack for their daily communication. It’s not magic, it’s systems that you too can learn from. Do yourself a favor and learn about basic slack etiquette, otherwise you’ll negate all the perks.

When conversations get too involved for a simple chat, you’ll want to hop on a phone call or, ideally, a video conference. You can use apps like Skype or Zoom for free to get you some face time with your team. Seeing faces can be critical to understanding tone and intention behind a message, so get comfortable with it sooner than later.

You’ll also want to ensure your daily tasks are organized and well-managed so that you’re accountable for your progress. Using productivity tools like Trello or Airtable allows you to easily track projects with a team, plan your day out and keep your goals realistic.

PRO TIP: Adding extensions to your browser such as a pomodoro timer—a great one is Strict Workflow—can keep you from being distracted by blocking websites for a period of time, helping you turn hefty tasks into bite sized sprints.

Finding a Space to Work From

Free or Cheap Spaces

Coffee shops are a cliche for good reason. It’s a great space to get out, distract yourself with people watching, enjoy a snack, and compartmentalize your work from your home life. The problem with utilizing these as actual work spaces is that they can be noisy and WiFi strength is not always reliable—not to mention potential security issues when connecting.

Fortunately, there are helpful apps like Workfrom that have already started to build out a crowdsourced platform where users can add and review spaces in their community to work remotely—be it free or paid.

PRO TIP: Check out your local library system. They’re rapidly changing to adapt and serve the needs of their community. You might just have a coffee shop or coworking space available to you there.

Coworking and Co-Living

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about WeWork. With beautifully designed spaces and all the perks you can imagine, from community building and networking to snacks, coffee, and happy hours, companies like WeWork offer a unique shared working experience. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.

That being said, there are plenty of other options out there. Websites like DropDesk allow users to select plans on a variety of prices and time options, from hourly to monthly terms. While Drop Desk is limited to certain cities, a quick Google search should bring up other spaces that will offer a variety of comparable communities and amenities.

For those who want to go all in and commit to true work/life integration, check out Roam. Coliving and coworking in a few major cities around the world, you can stay in Miami one month and hop over to London or Tokyo the next and know that your living and working space are covered.

Safety and Security

With all of the conveniences and benefits of coworking spaces and remote work, there also comes a threat, in terms of safety and security. It’s now up to you to ensure your valuables and data is protected. Remember, you’ll be using public networks which experts can access if you’re not careful.

Here are few safety precautions you should take:

  • Never leave your laptop or valuables out—even for a quick bathroom break.
  • Lock your laptop with a secure password.
  • If needed, protect your internet traffic by using a VPN.
  • Enable and use multi-factor authentication as an added security measure. If someone happens to see you type in your password, this will prevent them from taking the steps to fully attack your accounts.
  • Lastly, always be mindful of your surroundings. Keep your phone calls private and move to a secure space if needed. You never know who might be listening or watching your work.

Get out and Create!

It may take time to find what works best for you, but the rewards of working remotely can be enormous. Whether it’s spending more time with family, eliminating a bad commute, working from around the world, or surrounding yourself with other professionals, the remote and coworking life can be one of the best takeways from our modern work environment.

Graham Beck is the Co-Founder of Bridgeworks, a Long Island coworking and office space.

Coworking stock photo by 4 PM production/Shutterstock