Imaginative freelancers and open-minded collaborators come together each day to bounce ideas and innovate in coworking spaces. These shared offices rent desks to solo workers and tiny companies. Whether you're new to coworking or a veteran of the space, there are plenty of digital tools that can transform the work experience, whether that be by connecting with experts or better managing finances.
We took a look at the tools coworkers and coworking spaces are using to maximize productivity. Here are the top 10.
Cobot is a sleek, easy-to-use coworking space management software developed by Co.up in Berlin. The service offers invoicing, membership agreements, room bookings and other resources for members.
If your space likes the easy accessibility of keeping shared information stored in Google Docs, Cobot might be a good fit. If you're unsure if the service is right for your coworking space, you can try it for free for 30 days.
FreshBooks was designed to help businesses get paid by their clients with ease—the FreshBooks team understands that people go into freelancing hoping to avoid such a tedious chore. "Our job is to make sure they do as little of that paperwork as possible," says Stuart MacDonald, chief marketing officer of FreshBooks.
The service works with a number of different payment providers, sending online invoices to your clients. MacDonald says the service is ideal for people who get paid for their time and expertise, like artists, designers, developers and writers.
HipChat is a group-chat service that's ideal for remote teams, and it's lauded for its simplicity. "Hipchat is the easiest to get people started, which is important for us because we're not limited to just tech-savvy folks," says Alex Hillman, cofounder of Independents Hall.
You can access your chat room through a desktop, Web or mobile application, so it's easy to connect no matter where you're working.
Do you find yourself switching computers often? iTeleport is a great iOS app for accessing your home base computer remotely. Whether you switch between desktop or laptop to iPad or iPhone, you'll never be without your needed information and documents.
Coworkers love their jobs and love their spaces. If you're on the road and don't want to return to the old era of the coffee shop, try Loosecubes to find available desks near you. "Being able to cowork, even when you're miles away from your home coworking space, is a great perk of this global community," says Beth Buczynski, author of Gone Coworking.
Toby Morning, chief evangelist of Citizen Space, considers Loosecubes and similar services Liquid Spaces and Desk Wanted to be great marketing tools for his space, constantly attracting new coworkers.
Mavenlink is a Google app for product management that works seamlessly with your other Google extensions, streamlining group collaboration, budget tracking and file sharing.
"I wanted a tool for people to connect with each other even when they’re not at Link [Coworking], and Mavenlink does that very easily," says Liz Elam, Curator of Link Coworking.
For freelancers and small business folk looking to connect with experts in their fields, Ohours is a great way to find people. Experts host open office hours, using video chats to connect across the globe. The service is also used to arrange face-to-face meetups. Open office hours are a great way to learn about new industries, without investing in a grueling crash course.
Socialcast is a microblogging and sharing platform connecting people in real discussions. Industry professionals can engage in messaging, town hall meetings and polling. The program even includes analytics to measure the strengths of your network.
If you're done dealing with loads of different receipts, try Wave Accounting, a free online accounting app for small business. The app is ideal for people who may not have the resources to hire accounting personnel.
Wave is also ideal for collaboration. It's easy to grant partial or full access to different users to view your records. "I can let my bookkeeper see my business accounting without showing how much I paid for my wife's birthday present," says Rob Maurin, Wave's senior director for marketing and community.
If you're a master of the simple to-do list, Workflowy might be the app for you. The speedy, simple interface is perfect for people balancing lots of tasks simultaneously. The service comes with no predefined formatting constraints, so it feels as seamless as jotting tasks on a sticky-note.
The future of digital coworking
While there are tons of tools out there, Angel Kwiatkowski, founder of Cohere, believes the community is missing an overarching network for coworkers to connect. "We need help finding or developing a tool that allows for members of different coworking communities in far away states and countries to find one another and collaborate," says Kwiatkowski. "I'm hoping that in the next year, we'll have a great digital tool at our disposal that would allow a member of Cohere in Colorado to easily search out another coworker in say, Pakistan, who might be able to help with a problem or share ideas on a project."
Are you a coworker using a tool we didn't mention? Tell us about it in the comments.