In the past year and a half, many would-be office butterflies who thrive in collaborative work environments have had to retreat into their home cocoons. Although some workers have made the shift to remote working with relative ease, others have found themselves unable to stay focused and remain motivated. The lack of office interaction—from in-person project meetings to lighthearted hallway banter—has been a challenge for many workers.
And it’s no surprise. Renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized in his study of human needs that we must have social interaction to achieve a sense of belonging and stay inspired. Further studies prove what we humans already know: that we are social creatures who thrive on communication and belonging. Local coffee shops and libraries act as quasisocial respites from the isolated home office environment, but they can provide only so much as supportive coworking networks. There’s never been a better time than the present for those remote workers who feel the need to connect with other working humans to investigate physical and virtual coworking options.
We created a list of companies offering physical spaces and virtual platforms for coworking, designed specifically to help workers stay productive and personally accountable.
Physical Coworking Spaces
Gable, launched in early 2020, is a platform that sources safe workspaces in major US cities for distributed employee teams and individuals. Gable’s coworking spaces are located in a variety of venues, from hotel boardrooms and penthouses to contemporary, airy office spaces with balconies.
- Find flexible, local, and exclusive coworking spaces in boutique hotels or office buildings
- Book spaces for a day or for weeks or longer
- Gain camaraderie and connections in a creative environment
- Twitter: @gable_inc
Based in Gdansk, Poland, andcards is a software service that allows its members to find coworking spaces and shared offices in 25 countries. It offers opportunities for networking within the platform and the physical world. In an effort to create happier workers, this company’s coworking spaces strive to be warm and highly functioning.
- Book work spaces quickly and easily
- Automate operations and organize/manage employees with the help of a business intelligence system
- Choose to integrate apps like Google, HubSpot, and ezeep onto the platform
- Works across all devices, including iOS, Android, and web applications
- Includes responsive, 24/7 chat and email support
- Twitter: @andcardshq
Copass has created a “pass” that allows its members to access coworking spaces worldwide, with a concentration in western Europe, India, and the United States. The cofounders created and launched the company when they recognized the ongoing and increased demand for accessing safe and secure coworking spaces for remote workers. Copass has one of the largest networks of coworking spaces.
- Locate global coworking sites, hassle-free
- Provides a fluid user experience
- Flexibly cancel your membership
- Conveniently check in with one click
- Integrates the Airbnb and Couchsurfing apps on the platform for visitors’ accommodation needs
- Twitter: @WeCopass
Virtual Coworking Spaces
Before your write off the idea of a virtual coworking community, envisioning even more time alone in front of a screen, consider these platforms that emphasize productivity, which might actually decrease your screen time. And remember, social engagement, even if it’s virtual, is important and fulfills some basic human needs.
Caveday is a group work session over Zoom focused on productivity. Members (aka cavedwellers) are encouraged to fixate on their work in 40- to 50-minute “sprints” by putting their phones away and turning off notifications during those blocks. Cameras are kept on both while participants are working and while they’re taking breaks to socialize, so, yes, someone can snitch if they see a fellow member shopping on eBay or looking at Instagram during work time.
photo credit: @caveday on Instagram
- Prioritize important work
- Achieve a good workflow within a time limit
- Access a virtual space in which to concentrate
- Discover a balance among work, people, and self
- Twitter: @caveday
The Sococo platform is designed for distributed teams to work together virtually. Employees appear as different-colored icons inside the virtual office, and Sococo provides features like video calling, chat, and privacy permissions to enable practical and live communication.
- Increase team performance, collaboration, and accountability
- Interact and communicate in real time
- Experience a sense of belonging, since all employees exist on a single platform throughout the workday
- Use a visual map to keep track of office activity
- Twitter: @sococo
Remo is an immersive virtual event space where you can engage people around the world who are attending the same virtual conference, coworkers or otherwise.
Participants appear as avatars at a virtual table in a conference room when you enter. You can also join, sponsor, or reserve breakout rooms, change seats or tables, and network like nobody’s business (literally, as the privacy settings at the table allow for exclusive communication).
- Humanize an online event
- Create a personalized virtual business card so fellow participants can easily connect with you
- Use video calling, virtual backgrounds, chat, and whiteboard features for seamless communication
- Take advantage of customizable floor plans when you host a conference
- Twitter: @use_remo
Tried-and-True Virtual Coworking Spaces
The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies here. In the past 18 months or so, nearly every worker has been on Zoom or Google Meet, and there’s a reason for that: They’re reliable and easy to navigate. Most teams already use these platforms, but they don’t necessarily know about some add-ons that make them even better.
Twitter: @Zoom and @Google / use #GoogleMeet
Still feeling the void from sitting in an isolation chamber? Try these tools:
- I Miss The Office and Calm Office: Create office white noise
- Krisp: Clears background noise while working from home
- RescueTime: Tracks your productivity
- Mmhmm: Makes your presentations on Zoom or Google Meet stand out with custom effects, backgrounds, and animations
Although adapting to alternative work solutions might be stressful, let’s embrace these advancements. Whether you’ll return to a traditional office, experience a hybrid solution, or continue to work remotely in the future, these tools and learned skills—from befriending colleagues through a screen to actually amplifying your tech savviness—will remain valuable in your work life.
*Main article image: Gable Coworking Space in San Francisco // Photo Credit: @trygable on Instagram