As anyone who freelances knows, there are lots of perks to working on your own schedule. But there are drawbacks too: the potential isolation of working at home alone, or the dips in productivity when you find yourself making mental excuses to do random housework instead of actually working. No wonder co-working spaces are becoming so popular: they allow self-employed individuals to feel like they are part of an office environment, while allowing them to get some work done too. The downside is that renting a co-working space does cost money.
But a Swedish project is aiming to change that by converting people's under-utilized homes into temporary co-working spaces, available to freelancers for free. Hoffice was started by freelancers Christofer Gradin Franzen and Johline Zandra about a year ago in Stockholm when they invited a few people into their home office to work together. It was a resounding success, and the project has since spread to a number of cities in Europe, North and South America, Australia, India and Japan. Anyone can sign up and offer their home space as a free co-working space, or go find an Hoffice near them.
Here's how a typical Hoffice day might work: everyone arrives and starts the work day at a certain hour, working in 45-minute increments. After 45 minutes, everyone gets up to take a break, stretch, do qi gong or have a meditative moment for 10 to 15 minutes (their website has some great suggestions). Afterwards, people can gather around again, and re-state their intentions and goals for the rest of the work day, as a way to motivate each other. Meals can be eaten together at a certain hour, potluck-style or by bringing your own lunch.
This process creates an encouraging and supportive work environment, something that many freelancers would no doubt thrive in. As the website explains:
By working at Hoffice, we give ourselves and each other the gift to spend our days in a social working environment, where we are extremely productive without ignoring our other human needs. We support each other to focus on what is most important and to work on this in a methodical and concentrated way. We give ourselves and each other the possibility to continuously learn about our optimal working processes and ourselves. We also make sure to give us and each other what we need to feel calm, happy, inspired and creative during the working day.
There's actually a lot of thought put behind the structure of the Hoffice model. I found Franzen's story of how the seed for Hoffice was planted interesting: his previous experiences in Sri Lanka working with the Sarvodaya movement and encountering the concept of Shramadana -- the "gift economy" -- is what started the ball rolling. Even the idea of using 45-minute work sessions is based on scientific studies that people can't work effectively after about 40 minutes.
[B]ehind the structure of 45-minute sessions, pause activities and telling each other what you want to achieve during the day, you can find a philosophy based on certain fields: collective intelligence, gift economy and action research, how knowledge is developed by testing how it works in reality.
But it's not just about sharing space, it's also about a free exchange of ideas, and impromptu networking -- you may find that the person working across from you can offer skills you need on your project, and vice versa. And perhaps the best thing is that Hoffices are free to use -- of course, users can always leave donations for their hosts, to help keep the project going for future sessions. It's a great idea, without that sticky issue of "monetization" and a wonderful example of the true sharing economy. More over at Hoffice.
Via: Fast Company