Colocation: A key to revolutionizing the work environment

  • There is something about working in an office space that gets you in the zone. Once you step into that designated area, you know you are supposed to get productive, and that expectation alone draws something in you. It is like the moment you step through the doors, some minions in your head go into overdrive to get your creative juices pumping.

    This inexplicable mechanism is one of the reasons why we have offices. Beyond, giving co-workers a community in which one person’s productivity can motivate others, offices tell you in some coded language, that time is money. There is always that nagging whisper that says, “If you are here, you had better cracking!”

    However, what if we could take the idea a step further? They say that there is nothing new under the sun so what if we took an age-long idea and tweaked it just a little bit in a way that makes all the difference?

    Voilà! Unto the stages comes COLOCATION. I am actually excited about it. Perhaps because in it I see something I have always wanted. 

    ‘Colocation’ may be a relatively new term to some of us, but it has been around for quite a while, 2005 to be precise. Coined by Brad Neuberg, the idea of colocation is to combine freelancing with office structure. With office spaces, there is a community, but freelancing brings independence to the table. 
    Let us be honest. The reason most of us do not want to work in a proper office is because of the rigidity. No one wants a boss breathing down his or her neck. No one likes the monotony of a 9-5 every day. And above all, no one wants to feel like a worker-bee, constantly under someone else’s thumb. We all want to be in charge in some way. It is human nature.

    On the other hand, it can get a bit lonely working all alone. You may love serenity but having other people around can bounce creative energy around. Isn’t it nice to kick back and have a colleague to whine about your day and bosses with? But you don’t have that if you work alone. With colocation, independent workers, contractors and freelancers get to enjoy the structure of working with other people in an environment that fuses flexibility with structure.

    Read how changing your work environment affects your productivity. Also, check out this research article about the influence of physical office on employees’ productivity. Both articles will give you a better perspective on why colocation is essential today.

    Again, here is a breakdown of what this is all about: people engaged by diverse industries work in the same environment. So, you could have an architect, coder, graphic designer, accountant and writer all working in the same work environment. That is pretty cool if you ask me.

    The benefits of co-location abound but here are a few:

    It offers community to independent workers. Rather than being holed up in your house and staring at your walls for inspiration, you could have a social group that you belong to. Besides, in today’s world where the virtual threatens to eclipse the real, this would be a welcome development.

    It allows the freelancer flexible hours. The reason most of us stay away from regular jobs is so we can dictate our hours. This won’t change. You get to decide when you want to go to work, how long you will stay there and if at all you will even go.

    It affords the opportunity for complementary skills and services to be exchanged. For example, as a blogger, you could get your computer guru ‘co-worker’ to help out with your site. Also, if you happen to get a gig that requires a service you don’t render, there just might be someone at ‘work’ who offers that kind of service and you both can team up.

    It gives you a reason to get out of the house. Yes, I added this because many of us are too much of loners for our own good. Sometimes, a sense of purpose can come from getting up in the morning and having somewhere meaningful to go. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mean to say that those who work from home don’t find fulfilment in it, but it would feel good just to have the sun kiss your face frequently, wouldn’t it? Plus, you get to have an office address that is not your home address.

    Other than creating a new form of socio-corporate (my coinage) environment, to be frank, working from home has its challenges. There are distractions from people and let’s not forget the annoying, tiny devil on your shoulder that draws you to your bed, TV or simply saps the creativity out of your head. I speak from experience, fellas.

    Thus, it would really be soothing to get up and go to work like other people but without the restriction and rules found in conventional offices. It gives some form of order and structure to your day and work ethics, and I am not the only one who thinks so. The concept has already caught on like wildfire in Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Japan, India and Singapore where space is in low supply.

    It would be great if this were adopted in large scale in Nigeria since the population of freelancers and contractors is growing. In case you are wondering, yes, you would have to pay for it (we, freelancers tend to be freeloaders). Come on, a membership fee is a small price to pay for the fantastic benefits, isn’t it?

    Make sure to check this article on how to escape the cult of busyness through systematic elimination. It looks at dealing with working for many hours against working for productivity.

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