The biggest challenge of working from home that many of us face, is the fact that suddenly we’re on our own.
We’re the only ones setting our working times, we often get sidetracked by non-work stuff, and on top of it all - it can get a little lonely.
That’s why the internet invented virtual coworking.
With virtual co-working, a group of people will meet up in an online location (see below) to work together virtually: it creates the feeling of a virtual office.
Why Virtual Coworking WORKS
1. It creates a sense of collegiality
You can connect with other online entrepreneurs working from home on a daily basis. Not only is it great to combat the loneliness - but you also create relationships with other people who work from home… that can evolve into friendships, or working relationships, or a bit of both.
2. It establishes a routine in your working day
Coworking online is a way to get some routine into your working day, if that’s what you want. It can get you motivated to get started in the morning; it can keep you from getting distracted by that pile of laundry (it will still get done, see below!); it can also signal to others around you that you’re “at work”, even if you didn’t leave.
3. Your virtual coworkers can keep you accountable
You don’t NEED to tell others what you’re working on, but it can help you keep on track.
What do you need to get started coworking?
1. A location
There are several apps you can use for coworking. Many project management tools offer some kind of coworking environment; there are dedicated apps out there as well, like Sococo.
If you want to get started for free, appear.in is a great option; it’s free for small groups, and it’s reasonably stable. My own favourite is Zoom; the free version won’t do much for you if you’ve got more than 2 people joining, but the lowest paid plan offers the possibility to open up a “room” to anyone who has the link, 24/7.
You’ll want some basic rules before you get started. You can call them “suggestions” or whatever you like, but make sure you’ve got a foundation that works for YOU - so you can get the most out of it.
When I co-work, I like to set dedicated working times. These are time slots of (usually) anywhere between 17 and 55 minutes, where nobody starts chatting randomly, so we can each work on our thing. We use a joint timer on Cuckoo.com to keep track; that way even people who aren’t in the room can see what’s happening inside… and join during the breaks. Read more about how I use pomodoros to get more focused in this article!
I also think it’s important to set dedicated breaks. When the timer goes off after a pomodoro, it’s tempting to just continue working; however, we all need to stretch our legs at times, take a bathroom break, go make ourselves some tea. And in this case, we’re here to remind each other to take that break.
Last but not least: decide on rules about audio. Does everyone like to work with music? If so, you can arrange for a playlist that everyone can listen to. Or do you work better in silence? Make sure everyone mutes themselves while they’re working.
3. Other people to work with
When you’re collecting other people to start coworking with, look for people who work around similar times as you do. In other words: if you’re in Europe and you’re most productive in the morning, it’s no use coworking with people in the US who need a bit of time to wake up before joining… by the time they get on, your working day is probably almost ending.
If you happen to be in Europe (or work at European times) and you’re looking for a fun coworking circle to join, check out our little group here. We’re currently accepting new members!