Tired of working alone? Try coworking

In Good Company Workplaces, a coworking community for women entrepreneurs in New York City.In Good Company Workplaces, a coworking community for women entrepreneurs in New York …I've worked on my own for nearly ten years. But thanks to a band of fellow free agents, freelancers and entrepreneurs, I've often worked alongside other solo workers. I like the company. And I like having someone to bounce ideas around with. For ages, I worked this way without having a name for it. Then the phrase coworking sprung up to define a movement in which people who choose to share a workspace, usually with a common sensibility and set of values.

Coworking has many flavors. There are free public spaces and fee-based communities, and often they are organized around a common mission like environmental consciousness or supporting women entrepreneurs. There are also ad hoc arrangements (Friend #1 via text: Wanna cowork today? Friend #2: your place or mine?). And who says you have to be working to cowork? Looking for a job with others around you could be a good way to keep motivation up and ensure that you'll have structure and camaraderie in your life.

As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of working on my own, with others, here's my take on things to ponder if you want a successful coworking situation:

Find a space that fits the way you like to work.
Ask yourself a lot of questions. Do you need complete silence or do you prefer a low hum of noise around you? Will phones ringing or hearing other people on the phone distract or annoy you? Do you want to bring your pooch to work? Do you need Internet access? What about privacy for making phone calls? Do you need access to a fax and copier, and do those services need to be in the coworking space or is it fine if they are a short walk away? Whether you want to find an established co-working space in your area or start one of your own, the best place to start is this coworking wiki, a comprehensive resource all on things coworking.

Find the right coworkers.
If you're looking people to work with, spread the word. Go to meetups of freelancers, consultants and other independent workers. Consider putting an ad on Craigslist (like Deborah DiRago did when looking for her job search buddy or posting a note on Facebook or other social networking sites.

Set the terms.
Like roommates, good coworkers should come to a consensus on things like music/pets/telephone usage and anything else that's important in a work space. If you are joining an established coworking community, there will likely be policies about how people use the space. If you're creating something on on your own, you will figure these things out with your coworkers. Will there be there moments of collaboration and moments of tandem side-by-side work (parallel play, as they say with children)? Is it okay to take phone calls in the quiet place or should those on calls go to another room or outside? For years I've regularly coworked with Sarah Milstein at one of our homes (better for dogs) or a cafe. We set up part of the day as a meeting where we gab and confer on things we are working on, but we always plan for some quiet time where each of us could focus on what we needed to get done.

Discuss food. The work day usually involves eating. Will you bring your own food or do you like to work in a cafe setting or get outside for lunch? Do you want there to be a kitchen? Sometimes when Sarah and I cowork, we cook for each other. On other days we go out or order in.

For those of you who are coworking, what's worked for you? And are there any good coworking resources you can share?