Would you share your home office?

Workplace and wellbeing

28 April 2016

A 2013 study conducted by Stanford University found that professionals who work from home are generally more productive than office-based workers. They make more calls, have fewer breaks and are sick less often.

Although increased productivity is clearly positive, the flipside of being based at home is needing to be highly self-motivated and comfortable with working alone. Recognising this challenge for freelancers, a host of businesses offering flexible co-working spaces have popped up in recent years, as well as peer-to-peer home office sharing communities.

So what are co-working spaces and how can they help your business?

The problem of loneliness

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are often the biggest criticism of 'telecommuting'. We recently conducted a survey of self-employed professionals* to understand their working habits, and found that 35% reported feeling lonely – and a similar proportion told us they missed being part of a larger team.

Freelancers don’t have to work from home, of course. Cafés are an obvious alternative, though they can be loud and, over time, expensive – hence the rise of shared spaces, where people can work independently or collaboratively in a buzzing environment.

Co-working spaces at home

More recently, another trend has emerged: freelancers sharing office workspace in their own homes. The idea was developed by Swedish freelancers Johline Zandra and Christofer Gradin Franzen. In 2015, the Stockholm-based pair, who worked from their spacious home office, asked other freelancers to join them. Rather than charging the group for the privilege, they allowed professionals to work there for free.

Zandra and Franzen have since developed their idea further with their business Hoffice. Everyone who signs up is encouraged to arrive at the same time and work in 45-minute bursts. In between these sessions the freelancers take breaks lasting between 10 and 15 minutes that can involve anything from idle chat to stretching. The workers tend to have lunch together, too.

Those who’ve signed up also get a sense of what their fellow freelancers are up to. While they’re not necessarily working together, group members are encouraged to talk about their ongoing projects, what they’ve achieved and their weekly goals.

More than sharing a workspace

Zandra and Franzen believe their idea isn’t just a winner from a space and cost perspective; they think the home co-working space is good for creativity, too. Working from someone’s home, rather than a hectic café, means that people can communicate more easily – providing plenty of networking opportunities.

So, could the home-based co-working space concept take flight in the UK? And are Brits ready for a Scandinavian-style homeworking revolution? With well over four million Brits working from home as of 2014 – that's 14% of the workforce – there’s no reason why not.

*Based on a study of 330 professionals working from home conducted by AXA Business Insurance in January 2016.