By Mich Bondesio
I was lonely. And it was affecting my mental health.
The main reason I found my way into coworking was because I was lonely. I had started my new consulting business a few months before (in December 2017), and I was finding working from home on my own extremely isolating. My mood and my productivity were suffering. It felt paralysing, preventing me from moving ahead with the ideas I wanted to activate for my new business.
After a bit of research into coworking options, I discovered a space a short train commute away. To start, it felt great to have company around me whilst doing my own thing, and voila, my mood and focus improved. Through coworking, I solved the issue of my workplace loneliness, and ended up making some awesome ‘work friends’ too. But I wasn’t expecting the bonus benefits that have come from being a regular participant in a coworking community.
Benefits like networking and collaboration opportunities, paid client work, support with product development, and PR exposure. On top of that, there’s the increased confidence that comes from the multiple opportunities coworking has given me to showcase my expertise. .
Since I started coworking, I’ve tried out a few fantastic spaces in different places, but due to ease of access, Society1 has become the HQ for Growth Sessions (my wellbeing and productivity mentoring service). Whilst I still work from home some of the time, I run workshops from here, I meet clients here, and I also use this space when I’m doing my project management and communications work.
So what about these unexpected benefits I mentioned?
Here are some examples…
In the past year I’ve collaborated multiple times with the Society1 team. This has included offering workshops and communications consulting as part of their Skills Scrum and Ideas Lab initiatives. Catarina and Brendan King, two of the co-founders of Society1, have attended and supported my workshops. The whole team’s helpful, constructive feedback has also enabled me to develop and hone several of my product offerings, including Cadence – my monthly newsletter launched earlier this year.
Within my first few months of being at Society1, I was invited by Catarina to appear in their video series about the reasons people choose to cowork at Society1. The videographer was Garth Dew, a fellow coworker.
Garth ended up using my video as an example for one of his LinkedIn posts about good camera techniques. It was very well received and provided me with some unexpected exposure. Garth subsequently asked if I would participate in a new experiment, as he was keen to start a podcast. So I’m one of 6 lucky guests who are part of Garth’s first podcast series, launched recently.
Garth has been an informal mentor too. I’ve learnt from him and implemented quite a few ideas that have sprung from the ad hoc chats we end up having during a coffee break, or over a bevvie at Society1’s monthly social events.
Another mentor is Mel Joseph, the founder of Mente Health and a long-standing Society1 member. Mel attended one of my very first Growth Sessions workshops at Society1, and we’ve since ended up working on a few different projects together. First, I was invited to participate in a Mente roundtable discussion on mental health and wellbeing. This included contributing my thoughts on digital habits for their video series about various mental health topics, also filmed by Garth Dew. I have subsequently done paid communications work for Mente too, reviewing and editing their website copy and content.
In November 2019, I accompanied a small group of health and wellbeing professionals to Italy for another Mente project. The aim of the trip was to assist Mente in developing a new wellness programme launching in 2020.
Steff Evans is the founder of Evotech Computer Aided Engineering and also my latest collaborator. What started as brief chats when topping up our coffees, have now developed into valuable conversations, offering us both opportunities for feedback and accountability on the work we’re doing.
Steff attended one of my Growth Sessions workshops for Boost Business Lancashire, and his experience of it helped me further develop the content. I’ve also assisted Steff by being a strategic sounding board, to help him decide how best to develop the content marketing strategy and sales funnel for his new online training product.
In January 2020 I ran a successful 6 week Growth Sessions mentoring programme at Society1. My clients for this programme were 3 small company teams and 3 independent consultants, all of whom are part of the Society1 community. They became clients because we’ve built a relationship of trust together, and they saw the value of what I was offering. You can find out more about the mentoring programmes here.
These are just a few personal examples of the many wonderful benefits that come from being part of a coworking community. Reviewing these experiences makes me realise just how fortunate I am. I would not be this far on my business journey, without the influences and interactions I’ve experienced as a coworker. Even though we all do our own things as entrepreneurs, I feel like an integral part of an amazing work family too.
So my final thoughts on coworking are this....
You may start coming to a coworking space to avoid the isolation of working from home. But you will end up staying, because you and your business feel at home.
Mich Bondesio is a Communications Consultant and Performance Mentor. Her Growth Sessions talks, workshops and training programmes help busy business people to live and work more intentionally, to activate more of their potential. Her focus areas are digital health, mindfulness, productivity and wellbeing at work.
Pictures courtesy of Vicky Bayley, Souls not Smiles