Coworking in Sweats: the Quiet Strength of Community



The other day in my home coworking space, I overheard a conversation that went something like this:

Person 1: Hey, did I show you the photos I took of last week’s event?

Person 2: (Glances up with a stressed-out look): I can’t talk now. I’m having a day. I’ll catch up with you later.

Person 1: Got it. No problem. (A few people nearby nod their heads and get back to their own work.)

Coworking Community

I spend a lot of time talking about how coworking supports us in the good things: growing our network, expanding our skillsets, keeping us social and engaged, giving structure to our workday.

But one of the less talked about aspects of coworking is the support and community that’s there when things are shit. We glean strength and courage by just being around one another—even when we’re hit with stress, overwhelm and anxiety.

I could relate to the above conversation because two days earlier, I was the one buried and feeling the stress. I was heads down all day as I fended off freakout mode, but I would glance up occasionally to find myself surrounded by smart, driven people doing good work in the world.

It was oddly comforting to hear someone else fending off a freakout. It reminded me that we all have those times—and that they come and go. By the following day, Person 1 was back to her normal self, smiling, chatting with friends in the kitchen, and getting things done.

High Fives and Celebrating Coworking Wins

It’s not unusual in a coworking space to see someone celebrating a win with high fives, hugs and maybe a celebratory happy hour. We celebrate each other; we’re rooting for each other; and when someone has something worth celebrating, we’re stoked to celebrate with them.

The reverse is also true. When things are going shit, being at a coworking space, among people who care and truly understand what you feel like, is a beautiful thing.

Coworking space operators: Help welcome new members to your space with the free guide, 15 Must-Do’s Your First Month in a Coworking Space. Download now.


When You’re Having One of Those Days

Earlier this year I talked with my pal Jacob Sayles of Office Nomads and 312 Main about the benefits and challenges of startups in coworking spaces. We covered a lot of ground, but the thing I remember most about our conversation was a comment he made about when you’re having one of those days:

“You need that environment where you can come in and be like, ‘I’m wearing sweats today because I had a rough day yesterday and I didn’t make the sales that I needed.’ You need a colleague who cares about you and can be like, ‘Oh, it’s a sweats day. Cool. I understand. Want to get a beer later?’ You need that.”

We all have sweats days—whether we show up at our coworking space that way or actually get it together to put on pants. Being around like-minded, supportive people is a great way to move through overwhelm and challenges, or dust yourself off from a failure and try something new.

Coworking is easy to celebrate when everything’s going great, but what about those days when things are not great? Is your coworking space still the best place to be? If so, count yourself among the lucky and give your nearest coworking a high five.

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Photo: nasrul ekram (CC-BY)