Anyone who has ever lost a job knows that networking is a key to finding the next opportunity. Sitting at home blasting out resumes is not an effective way to conduct a job search. Job seekers need to be out meeting new people and selling their capabilities in person. Co-working venues are popping up all over the world and they offer more than just a place to work. They offer community. Whether it is a large national chain like WeWork or a hyperlocal space like Advent Co-Working in Charlotte, NC, co-working spaces foster relationships.
Having coached and advised several laid off clients, I have found that the loss of a job brings with it a loss of identity. What you do for a living in many ways defines who you are. When someone experiences a job loss, they begin a search not just for a new job but for a new identity. Joining a new community in a co-working space can provide a sense of belonging that helps to fill that void.
Having a daily cadence and structure to one’s time improves the feeling of self-worth and makes job seeking more productive.
One of the best pieces of advice I have given to job seekers is to create a daily routine. Having a daily cadence and structure to one’s time improves the feeling of self-worth and makes job seeking more productive. Taking care of oneself physically is very important during the stress of a job search. In a past article, Career Transition: A World of Opportunity, I offered five pieces of advice to help through career transition which included a suggestion to join a gym and to plan to workout in the mornings or evenings when other office workers are most likely to be in there. Working out mid-morning or mid-afternoon does not afford the same opportunity to network and meet new people who could be instrumental in the job search. Co-working spaces are much like gyms in that they attract a diverse group of people and can create networking opportunities.
When companies lay off workers, they often provide outplacement services. Traditional outplacement services are provided to reduce the risk of legal action against the company, to improve retention and productivity, to protect the business brand, to support corporate values, and as a negotiable severance benefit (Learn more: Why is Outplacement Important). For the displaced worker, outplacement services are there to help them figure out what is next and to land a new job or transition to a new career. Many laid off workers use the loss of a job as an opportunity to pivot and to become an entrepreneur or to switch careers. Traditional outplacement services help with resume writing, personal marketing and self-awareness assessments. All of these are valuable contributions, but in my experience, it is the daily routine and having a place to go that is most beneficial to a worker in transition.
In addition to offering traditional outplacement, HR departments should consider allowing displaced workers to choose a co-working membership as an outplacement option. For many the co-working membership would be of great benefit. It would provide the following:
· A daily routine by providing a place to go and work each day that gets the person out of their home
· Free internet and office or desk space to work and conduct a job search
· Access to events such as lunch and learns, tech talks and other social events
· A sense of community and belonging with a diverse group of solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and even some larger businesses that have chosen to set up teams in coworking locations
· Organic networking opportunities. Sitting at a co-working desk creates natural engagement with others. It makes meeting new people and exploring opportunities much easier
If you are reading this as an HR decision maker in a company that has leveraged traditional outplacement firms in the past, it is worth exploring the experience your displaced workers have had. Not all firms are created the same. I work with ClearRock, a Boston based outplacement and leadership development firm that does an amazing job with outplacement, but that experience is very different than the services provided by many of the larger national players. I spend time in co-working offices around the globe as I use them as remote offices when traveling for client engagements. I have met many amazing people in the various co-working spaces, many of whom joined while in career transition, but found so much value in the relationships and the sense of community that they continue to be members.
To job seekers in transition, I would highly encourage you to explore the co-working spaces in your city, get a day pass to each and determine if conducting your job search out of a co-working space is right for you.
Co-working is a great alternative to conducting a job search from home for those in career transition.
About the Author:
Brian Formato is CEO and Principal Consultant at Groove Management, a human capital consulting firm. Brian and his team help individuals and organizations to maximize their performance by leveraging their strengths. Groove Management works with venture capital funded high growth companies, publicly traded multi-nationals and mid-market firms to align their human capital with the business strategy. Brian also serves on the board of advisors to Advent Co-Working and ClearRock two firms mentioned in this article.