Virtual Co-working: A First Hand Experience

I did my first virtual co-working session a couple of weeks ago and it was incredible.

And quite productive!!

For the record, I am not a fan of the whole virtual work culture. I am more about the offline, in-person meetings and sessions.

But with the reshaping of our routines, the personal and professional merging and our mental health being at stake, I say welcome anything that can help us tide over these times.

And virtual co-working, I thought, would be great to break the monotony of sitting at home and hacking away at my keyboard alone.

And it did!

What the hell is a virtual co-working session?

The concept is pretty simple – you get on a video call with someone, choose to work on a task during the session and work on your own while being live on camera.

Why do we need such a thing, you might ask? Can’t we just mind our own business and do our work on our own?

Well, I’d call it a stupid idea too if the world hadn’t just been locked up at home and we had other ways of collaborating and supporting each other.

While we are all stuck at home – this is a great way to strap on to our chairs and get some quality work done, especially if you are an entrepreneur.

Here is how it worked out for me:

The first thing that hit me was the silence…. I don’t remember the last time I was so quiet and focussed!

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Had it not been for the set up, I’d be up in the first 5 minutes for one or more of the following:

– Charge my phone
– Drink water
– Fill my water bottle (reminder for next time)
– Make tea (reminder for next time)
– Write a cheque for a bill I could see right there
– Jump to a different task

That’s a lot of distracting thoughts for 5 minutes!!

But having someone work with me on camera ensured that I didn’t leap off my chair at every fleeting urge!

I chose to research on creating a group on Linkedin

I not just finished the research I also created the group (Watch out for the announcement soon)

It’s easy to get distracted during research but this time I was just focussed on the task I picked up for the session.

Since then, I have thought of trying to work it out on my own – like pick a task and stick to it. But I am yet to see that succeed!

Is virtual co-working useful?

Here are a few things that virtual co-working really helps with:

1. Accountability: Virtual partners ensure that we don’t move away or get distracted with other things.

Being on camera keeps you accountable and gets accountability from your partner to keep up the commitment of 60 minutes that you made to each other.

This is the most important reason this system works, if you ask me.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

2. Productivity: In a world where our attention spans are down to a few seconds and scrolling social media feeds are dominating our lives, our productivity levels have taken a huge hit.

A virtual productivity buddy always helps us stick to the task at hand. And with each session that you do, I am sure the good effects are going to compound.

3. Flow: When I first read about flow in Cal Newport’s Deep Work, it seemed like a mythical state of mind never to be achieved by an ordinary mortal like me.

But co-working with a virtual partner did take me much closer to that state of deep focus.

It was almost meditative knowing that I didn’t have to think about anything else and could just stick to one thing in the present moment.

How can you find co-working partners?

While there are services that help you find work partners, I chose to post on Linkedin and invite people from my own network to work with me.

(And also because I strongly believe that we don’t need an app for everything under the sun)

So that’s one way to go. If you have robust networks and friends elsewhere on social media, you can invite them in too.

However, there is one popular service that helping people get together and work.

Focusmate is specially designed to help you easily find partners for any time zone. The home page has a short video that explains how it works.

I did sign up for Focusmate this week and looked up their system. You create a log in, add your basic details, put down your first task (optional) and look up the calendar that comes up.

I’ve taken a snapshot for next week – and you can see there are so many people who have already booked in sessions. The time shown is in your time zone. So 12am on your calendar is IST and it’s local time for your partner.

You can literally choose any time of the day or night!

However, I am yet to book a session on the platform.

Here are a few reasons:

– Uncertainty about my own schedule

– Navigating through something new when it’s not absolutely necessary

– My abhorrence of all new things tech

– The unknown people behind those calendar entries

But I hope to overcome my reluctance in the next few days and book up a few sessions in advance – to make sure that I don’t back out.

This is one of the most effective productivity tools I have come across – and trust me! I try out a lot of them hoping to find something that works.

Probably my experience on Focusmate should be a great update on to this post – look out for it!

The future is here

With virtual co-working, I feel like the future is here!

A time when we are totally dependent on technology for all our tasks – work and leisure.

The last year has been a testimony to the extent we need technology to run our lives.

And like with anything else, we have a whole lot of new ideas that have merged my this lifestyle.

Virtual co-working is one such thing.

And I wouldn’t endorse it so strongly if I hadn’t tried it myself.

You can connect with me on Linkedin too to work together.

Have you tried virtual co-working? What’s been your experience?

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