A man working at a laptop in an office.

Coworking spaces are designed to provide a productive place to work with like-minded individuals. A virtual coworking space is designed to accomplish the same task, with the caveat of being a purely online experience. So, how do they work?

What Are Virtual Coworking Spaces?

Virtual coworking spaces are online spaces that bring people together with the primary aim of improving productivity. You can go it alone and get your own group together on a Zoom or FaceTime call, or you can subscribe to one of the many services that exist to offer a virtual office online.

Virtual coworking boils down to sitting in front of your webcam while your co-workers do the same. You can see them, and they can see you, which is more like sitting in an office than your living room or bedroom. The nature of an online meeting might help you feel a little more accountable.

People working at a table in an office.
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Getting your own crew of virtual co-workers together on a call might be difficult, but there are plenty of premium services you can use that can take care of the logistics for you.

Different services take different approaches. Some will have productive “cycles” where work is interspersed with regular short breaks, like a pomodoro timer. Others more closely resemble webcam lobbies in which you can log on, work for a bit, and then log off again.

Since socializing and networking are a big part of coworking, some of these services even allow you to “knock” on virtual doors and schedule meetings with others in the virtual office.

Which Services Offer Virtual Coworking?

If you want to go it alone, you can organize colleagues and friends in any way you see fit. A group chat on a service like WhatsApp or Telegram allows you to easily add or remove members, and you can post your meeting link on whatever online video platform you’re using whenever you want.

Any VoIP service that supports the required number of participants will do. Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts, and FaceTime are all good options that are free to use. FaceTime might be the most limiting since it requires Apple hardware for the time being.

You can also try searching for groups within your area, industry, or friend group that are already established. Facebook Groups are a great resource for this.

If you’re a freelancer who simply wants the “turn up and work” coworking experience, look at services like Focusmate, myworkhive, and Ultraworking. The latter of these services runs simple 30-minute “Work Cycles” with 10-minute breaks and describes itself as “the work gym.”

If you’d like a little more control, then you can use services like Sococo and Remo to organize more permanent and fleshed-out events. Both of these services allow you to establish virtual spaces with a floor plan, with Sococo being focused on collaboration and Remo bringing real-world networking events into the virtual space.

Be More Productive While Working from Home

Virtual coworking is ultimately about using online spaces to be more productive while in an offline environment that might be distracting.

Working from home isn’t easy, but it isn’t an entirely new concept. Find out what we’ve learned about staying productive while working remotely.

RELATED: Tips for Working from Home (From a Guy Who's Been Doing It for a Decade)

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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