The way we work is changing. Increasingly, people are opting to work remotely rather than face hours upon hours of traffic each week. And while it’s unlikely that many miss the days of beige cubicle rows saturated in fluorescent light, working from home (or from coffee shops) presents its own set of challenges and frustrations. Perhaps the most prominent of these is loneliness. Therefore, many people are on the hunt for a coworking space near them.

Steve King, coworking guru and Partner at Emergent Research, talks a lot about the loneliness epidemic. He often says variations of “coworking isn’t about workspace, it’s about feeling less lonely.” Loneliness and social isolation negatively impact our emotional health, physical health, and productivity. Working alongside other people who know and care about how you’re doing pushes back against this phenomenon in a powerful way.

Coworking is about more than just a desk or an office; it’s about doing our best work alongside each other and because of each other.

In essence, everybody wants to belong. To have people they can bounce ideas off, chat with when that three o’clock slump hits, etc. This sounds great in theory, but how do you make it happen? We’ve got a few tips on belonging and the hunt for a coworking space.

First things first, you’ve got to book a tour.

If you’re looking for a coworking space, you’ve probably already scouted a few out online. Doing your homework is great to initially pare down your options (especially if you live in a metropolitan area with lots and lots of coworking spaces), but you won’t know how a space really feels until you step foot inside. A tour is also your chance to get more specific questions answered and to see how you vibe with the staff.

Consider the design.

Coworking spaces share some common characteristics and amenities, but not all. You can almost always expect open seating, a shared kitchen, and meeting rooms. But remember that every space’s membership options, layout, events, and décor are carefully designed to best serve their target members.

As an example, super-sleek and polished spaces, often found near the heart of a city, tend to draw more corporate teams, remote workers, and travelers who need a desk for a short period of time. Other more casual spaces with an eclectic vibe (usually in a city’s arts district or the suburbs) attract creatives, freelancers, and small teams.

Ask about the other members.

One of the best questions you can ask on a tour is “Who works here?” or “What types of businesses are members here?” This helps you gauge what the community might be like and if it’s a good fit for you. A lone entrepreneur in a sea of corporate remote workers (or vice versa) may not be your jam, so it’s a good idea to ask up front.

Attend an event.

There are a couple of ways, beyond a tour, you can get a feel for a coworking space before making a membership commitment. Most spaces will offer a free day pass and/or invite you to an upcoming event they have planned, like a lunch & learn or happy hour. It’s a whole lot easier to strike up a conversation to gauge. what the community is like at an event than during a regular workday

Go with your gut.

After you’ve done your research and toured a handful of spaces, you may come to find that the coworking space you’re leaning towards doesn’t make the most sense on paper. It could be the furthest from your home, pricier than others nearby, or a brand new space that is still working out some kinks, but I’m here to tell you that’s okay. Yes, this is a business decision, but it’s also a personal one. Where you work and who you spend your days with is intertwined with how you live.

Years ago, when I was applying to colleges, I kept a detailed spreadsheet with information about every school I was interested in. I’d decided before ever setting foot on a campus where I wanted to go to school and what I wanted to major in; I was sure. As it turns out, I was surely wrong…on both accounts. Now a proud alumna of the great University of Georgia (Too big! I don’t like football!) with a BA in Communication Studies (What even is that? I want to be a psychiatrist!), I can remember the exact spot on North Campus where I stood when I said to myself, “This feels like home” and abandoned my spreadsheets.

Our sincere hope is that you feel the same way here at FireWorks – that our four walls feel like home for you. If you’re interested in finding out if FireWorks is your next move, we’d absolutely love for you to book a tour.