While there are many perks to working from home or being your own boss, a common challenge for many is finding focus. If you miss the camaraderie of sharing an office space, or tend to benefit from external accountability practices, then ‘silent' co-working may be worth a try.
What is silent co-working?
Pretty much what it sounds like – a virtual ‘get-it-done’ gathering most commonly convened via zoom. This phenomenon gained a lot of traction during the global pandemic when folks unaccustomed to tele-working suddenly found themselves working from a makeshift home office.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans working primarily from home tripled between 2019 to 2021, from 5.7% (roughly 9 million people) to 17.9% (27.6 million people).
This explosive growth of tele-working coupled with the expanding gig-economy has fueled the spread of silent co-working (also referred to as online or virtual co-working), from an informal practice among friends and colleagues, to the sole purpose of numerous startups.
What's the benefit?
Working with someone else, or ‘body doubling’, in a supportive environment has been shown to help improve productivity and accountability, especially for those of us prone to distraction. A mix of scientific and anecdotal evidence supports the idea that it can also be effective strategy for folks who struggle to initiate tasks, including those dealing with ADHD.
If you've ever found that working from a coffee shop, bookstore, or other space outside of your home where you're in the presence of others seems to boost your productivity or focus, then you've benefitted from body doubling.
Before making the pivot to business coaching, I incorporated silent co-working sessions into our Comms For Causes membership (truthfully? on a lark!) and it quickly became one of the most popular benefits, which is why it's now a part of our small business coaching circles. The time is blocked on your calendar, and you show up with the goal of making progress on one thing on your to do list in the–virtual–company of others.
Want to give it a try?
The simplest way to get started is to find a small group, or at least one other person, and commit time to your calendar to connect for a virtual co-working session. Do a quick check-in, ideally sharing something specific you plan to complete or make progress on, then mute (cameras optional) and get to work. At the end of the hour, be sure to check-in to share and celebrate what you've gotten done.
You can also find a growing number of online businesses offering this service, such as Flown, Flow Club, and Caveday. Flow Club and Caveday offer 7- and 14-day free trials, respectively. Flown is free on Fridays after you complete a trial, even if you opt not to become a paid member.
If you give silent co-working a try, be sure to let us know and report back to share your experience with us! Have some personal tips to share? We'd love to hear those, too; simply scroll and comment below.