The way Americans work has changed in the last decade, with many people swapping traditional jobs for freelancing and telecommuting. A recent Upwork and Freelancers Union survey shows freelancers account for 35 percent of the U.S. workforce. This increase has led to the popular trend of co-working spaces, where independent contractors can benefit from a like-minded community. We’ve put together some information to help you determine if a co-working space is right for you.

What Is a Co-Working Space?

Co-working spaces are centers where you can go and work. Many co-working spaces offer membership levels ranging from full-time access to access just a few days a month. Some places provide offices and desks you can rent long term, while others have desks, tables and communal spaces available on a first-come, first-served basis each day. Most co-working spots have basic office amenities like a conference room, a small kitchen or break room, printers and an assortment of office supplies.

The Benefits of Co-Working

The biggest benefit to membership in a co-working space is community. If you’ve left an office job in favor of freelancing (or your job requires telecommuting), you might find working from home gets lonely. A co-working space puts you in the company of other members. Some spaces even host networking events, business classes, luncheons, gatherings or outings. Being in the company of others who are setting and slaying work goals may help you thrive as well.

Heading to a co-working space each day also provides you with the same routine of a 9-to-5 job and a place to concentrate. Maybe you’re the sole earner with a spouse who takes care of the kids while you work, or your house or apartment doesn’t have enough space for a dedicated home office. A co-working center can be a great place for meeting clients or other independent contractors you might be collaborating with rather than inviting them to your home or a coffee shop.

What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Co-Working Space?

Research whether you’ll be able to get your work done efficiently and whether the features are worth the cost. Luckily, many co-working spaces offer trial memberships. Take your time sampling spots to find one right for you.

The Co-Working Checklist:

  • Noise: Does the space play music? If so, is it loud? Are there dedicated quiet times?
  • Phone calls: What’s the space’s policy on cellphone use in communal areas? Are there dedicated call rooms available if needed?
  • Security: Is there a front desk with a receptionist, or do members use key cards? Can anyone easily access the space at any time? Will your laptop and other belongings be safe if you get up to use the restroom? Are members screened before acceptance?
  • Coffee/snacks: Does the place offer free coffee and snacks? What about a refrigerator to store your own?
  • Printing/supplies: Do you have printer access? What are the limits?
  • People: Some co-working spaces are perfect for writers and artists while others work better for those in tech or sales. Find one that fits your work personality.

If you’re a new independent contractor or small-business owner, be sure to contact your Farm Bureau agent to get set up a SuperCheck.