We look at The Devon Work Hubs network, a group of 24 coworking spaces across Devon to see why freelancers and small business owners call them a lifeline
Kids crawling the walls and you can’t think straight? Do you have a partner who has back-to-back Zoom calls and you can’t do your meetings in the shared home office? Just need a change of scenery or a place where you can talk with fellow freelancers?
Distraction-free working zones
One of the key benefits of coworking spaces for freelancers is that they provide a distraction-free environment to get work done. That’s because coworking spaces are typically quiet and professional, with access to high-speed internet and other essential amenities. This can be a huge advantage for freelancers who may not have a dedicated workspace at home or need a change of scenery.
“We find freelancers use our space to give them a break from working at home,” says Claire Lewis from The Hub at The Bookery in Crediton, according to a Devon County Council news piece. “Coworking centres provide a distraction-free environment to get some serious work done, but also a unique opportunity to meet and chat with other professionals over a coffee!”
Network to get new leads and tips
Another benefit of coworking spaces is that they offer opportunities to network with other freelancers and professionals. This can be a great way to learn new things, find collaborators, and generate new business leads.
“As community manager of the Generator Hub, I am continuously inspired by the incredible contributions of our freelancer community and the positive impact they have on both our organisation and the broader community,” says Riina Lehtoviita, the Community Manager at Generator Hub in Exeter.
“We recognise that many of our freelancers are genuinely at the forefront of the new economy, driving innovation, and shaping the future of work.”
“Together, we can make a profound difference in the world of independent work and continue to contribute to improving our local and further-a-field communities,” adds Riina.
Female founders find a support network
Coworking spaces can also be a valuable resource for female entrepreneurs. Stacey Sheppard, the founder of The Tribe, a coworking space in Totnes for female entrepreneurs, says that she understands all too well how challenging it can be to work for yourself when faced with periods of economic uncertainty and just how important it is to build yourself a resilient support network.
“Working as a freelancer has so many benefits, both personally and in terms of the contributions we make to the wider economy,” says Stacey. “But it doesn’t come without its challenges and the current landscape that we find ourselves working within is particularly onerous.”
“I opened The Tribe specifically to help women who work for themselves, and more recently those who are hybrid workers, to navigate the many challenges that come with this career choice,” explains Stacey. “Loneliness and isolation can be a real issue.”
Lucy Scanlon, who runs Roots + Wings, a charity management consultancy, is a regular at The Tribe and has found many benefits from using a coworking space.
“As a freelancer working from home, I often feel really isolated,” says Lucy. “The clients I work for are all lovely, but it’s not the same as having a team of colleagues. I love co-working at The Tribe because I find I’m far more productive. The accountability of being in a room with other people who are focused on their work is so motivating. I also love the chance to have random chats throughout the day– both work-related and totally unrelated!”
Local councils are encouraging freelancers to co-work
Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, says that he hopes freelancers and other self-employed people take the opportunity to explore the benefits of coworking.
“Coworking spaces in Devon’s Work Hub network can help to support business development and growth,” says Councillor Gilbert. “They can help you create new business networks, find collaborators and clients, upskill, and even expand your social circle.”
If you are a freelancer or small business owner in Devon, why not check out the Devon Work Hubs network.
Coworking spaces can be a lifeline for freelancers and small businesses, providing a supportive community, access to essential resources, and opportunities to network and grow. Look in your county for similar co-working spaces or put a shout-out on social media or NextDoor to create one of your own.