Like many people, I have the option to work from home. Indeed, I have a comfortable and private home office, so why do I spend time commuting to coworking offices?
Many people who work from home come to realize that their engagement isn’t always that high. An informal poll at Workbar found the ideal commute time was about 10 minutes – significantly longer than walking to a home office. But that’s admittedly an unscientific poll of coworking members.
Gallup has some better data. The polling organization developed its State of the American Workplace report using data collected from more than 31 million respondents. That’s a poll of more people than in any single US state save California. It’s a great resource on employee engagement data.
Gallup found that, “working remotely can positively influence employee engagement and performance.” However, “the gains can vary by role and are most noticeable when employees still maintain some connection to their ‘home base.’” In other words, working from home every day isn’t necessarily better than working in the office every day. “The optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60% to 80% of their time — or three to four days in a five-day workweek — working off-site,” the report continued. See the data below.
Coincidentally – or perhaps unconsciously – that matches my typical workweek. I’ve found that my own sweet spot is to work from home one or two days a week. For the other days, I like to work in coworking offices, but often different ones, to get new environments. I might not have been Gallup’s core survey audience, but I think my experience falls right in line.
A couple years ago, Harvard lecturer Beth Altringer conducted some fascinating research, asking digital nomadism is a "viable career lifestyle, a subsidized holiday, or a relatively high-risk financial and career gamble." You check out her article in Forbes here; it's worth a read.
Digital nomads' working-while-traveling lifestyle is certainly alluring. I know several people with portable jobs, including freelancers and employees of tech firms with virtual operations, have been nomads for a time, though often not permanently. Can you make a go of it, for life?
Altringer's research suggests that nomads are more likely to be mid-career, rather than millennials, which was the first surprise. The kicker: "The more time that my research assistant and I spent with nomads, the more we began to question the viability of this lifestyle for most people." Bummer.
Still, opportunities to at least be a part-time nomad abound, with coworking setups that combine professional with residential and recreational offerings. Check out this article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, for example, which describes several opportunities for short-term work getaways.
I've been coworking since 2010. which has taught me a few things about making it work. I have a lot left to learn.