Can you visualize a workspace where you can collaborate with people from all over the world without ever leaving your home? Welcome to the trend of virtual coworking.
This outlandish concept has grown in synchronization with remote workers and the idea is simple. Remote workers gather together online to work, collaborate, socialize and be held accountable on a virtual coworking platform.
But is virtual coworking effective? Many people are skeptical and argue that it’s difficult to create a sense of community online. Although the concept is quite niche, enough people have joined virtual coworking spaces and believe it assists in productivity.
How they differ from a physical coworking space
A virtual coworking space is vastly different from traditional coworking spaces. Other than being a physical office space, they provide a range of services to enhance your business.
These vary but typical include:
An address you can use to register for your business
Call answering services
Meeting rooms access
The conventional coworking space is primarily built for improving business functionality, followed by networking. But the virtual coworking space concept has rid all services for the feeling of accountability and to create a ‘community feel’.
Would you pay people to watch you work?
It might be strange at first to hear that you can pay someone to watch you work; but, this is an emerging trend in a global society where virtual coworking spaces exist. The underlying idea here centers around accountability and productivity.
People engage facilitators who help them supervise their work progress at every moment of the day. Think of it as a virtual office or a virtual space, where your only connection is video conferencing and everyone can see each other work.
So, what does a typical day look like on virtual coworking platforms? Let’s walk through it.
Logging on a virtual coworking platform
There’s an abundance of online coworking spaces and people have the liberty of selecting their preferred virtual coworking space app. The platforms can range from video conference tools to specifically designed software for virtual collaboration.
Once you’ve logged in, there will be a grid of faces, similar to a physical coworking space, except these faces are from all over the world connected by a computer screen.
Online coworking platforms begin with a facilitator who greets everyone at the start of the day. Think of it as keeping a sense of communal spirit, establishing the mood for the day and steering everyone in the right direction.
Their approach might include greeting everyone, asking how everyone feels and setting up an agenda for the day before the next important step. Remote workers are often part of a dying company culture, so it’s their method of resurrecting it.
Here is where the accountability begins.
Most people share their daily goals or tasks and this not only creates a sense of community but also allows people to learn from each other. Some individuals end up finding people with similar goals and they could agree to check in on each other periodically.
It seems outlandish, but this culture exists in the online coworking space and remote workers in virtual spaces thrive from this.
Getting to work
Everyone mutes their microphones and starts typing away to tackle their goal.
For these remote teams, the idea of someone “watching” them can be a motivating factor. Because remote workers are often disconnected from colleagues or miss team culture, they hope to create a sense of collective energy.
And it’s definitely not for everyone. Virtual coworking spaces are undoubtedly a niche and remote workers are more likely to use the best collaboration tools instead of such platforms.
Schedule breaks and socializing
Virtual co working sessions have scheduled breaks for participants to have a quick chat. It’s their version of water cooler or coffee machine interactions that you’ll find commonly in traditional coworking spaces or offices.
The facilitator might also encourage group stretching sessions and check in with participants to see if they met their goals at the end of the day. Self-reflecting on progress and what was accomplished is the typical wrap-up before everyone logs off.
Virtual coworking is forever a niche
Unlike traditional coworking spaces, this trend will likely remain a niche.
That’s not to say there aren’t any benefits.
Virtual coworking is geographically non-restrictive. You can work as a team with people from different corners of the world and exchange thoughts with diverse professionals.
Online coworking spaces are incredibly flexible. Log in whenever you wish, find sessions per week that fit your schedule and simply enjoy the autonomy.
Virtual coworking is quite inexpensive. Memberships are often below $50 per month and some of the best virtual coworking spaces are free. You can find a list of free virtual coworking spaces online with fast sign-up procedures.
Some individuals are motivated and work harder when they are being watched by their peers.
But the list of disadvantages is why virtual coworking spaces will struggle to become a genuine workspace solution.
People will always value face-to-face interactions and the absence of a physical setting will make it challenging to create a genuine sense of community; no matter how well structured.
While these platforms facilitate a virtual office space for remote workers, its overall appeal is lacking because of these factors. Traditional offices and coworking spaces are likely to remain the preferable options, while virtual coworking stays a niche.