I’m a solo entrepreneur and I’ve been a WeWork member since September 2019. It’s been the best decision both professionally and personally. Everyone likes the idea of working for yourself, but few people talk about how isolating and lonely the work journey can be. This was the driver behind my decision to join a co-working space and community.
I thrive from the energy of others around me. Connecting with others, sharing knowledge and experiences, and benefitting from different perspectives and opinions – it all makes for a much more wholesome working experience. For a solo entrepreneur, having and maintaining connections with other people can play a huge role in your mental wellbeing.
Pre-COVID, working from home was very much a choice. Throughout the growing pandemic and restrictions, working from home became a mandate and cabin fever started creeping in. I missed my office space, the separation of work life and home life, and more importantly, I missed my community of friends.
Keeping in touch via emails, Zoom chats and text messages certainly helped at the height of the lockdown. But digital connections can’t replace real human interactions and work culture. This has been clear since coming back to work in the office.
The initial return to work was simply a refreshing change of scenery, but being able to connect with everyone as they have slowly returned to the office has been lovely. As I’m sure many have found out during this remote work experience, it’s difficult to replicate the dynamics of day to day interactions with friends, colleagues and clients in the office. It’s also been really nice to not have to interact at arms-length through a screen or dealing with the odd screen freeze and lag in conversations.
From a safety and comfort perspective, everyone in the office has been really conscientious and courteous about social distancing and the general wellbeing of others. I think this is due to a couple of things. Firstly, the WeWork team has put in a lot of effort to provide clear guidelines and signage throughout the space, maintaining high standards of cleanliness (to be fair this was happening even pre-COVID) and remaining really connected with members in the community as per usual.
Secondly, everyone in the community has seemed really keen and happy to get back into the office. In fact, we’ve even seen some new faces in our building. We’ve all missed each other’s company day to day. The phrase “we’re all in it together” really rings true when you start hearing stories about everything going on and how everyone is feeling about getting back to work. Coming back into the office is providing a sense of relief and comfort that things are returning to normal in some way.
I think recent experiences have helped us all appreciate flexible working arrangements and different work environments. There’s no one size – or rather space – that fits all, but one thing is for sure — for solo entrepreneurs like myself, the value of community and in-person interactions cannot be underestimated.
Fi Nguyen is the founder of Girl Friday IP.