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I tried virtual coworking and this was what it was like

As more and more people convert to the work-from-home lifestyle and potentially plan their transition into digital nomadism, we are all looking for ways to connect with likeminded people. (And this during a time when it’s pretty hard to connect with anyone at all!)

This past week, I took part in a virtual coworking retreat called Online Coliving. We met twice a day for seven days, doing all kinds of activities over Zoom calls — from yoga to masterminds to pitch presentations — and establishing our own little community in the process. While there’s truly nothing like face-to-face connection, doing it virtually is the next best thing.

Here are all the details on the retreat:

What is virtual coworking?

Virtual coworking is when you meet with other entrepreneurs and freelancers online through chat and video calls to learn from one another, brainstorm, share inspiration and motivation, network, support one another through accountability, and otherwise connect.

Specifically, as they say on the Online Coliving website, you will

“Spend one week connecting, exchanging resources, and bringing ideas to life with 14 selected entrepreneurs and digital nomads.”

Online Coliving homepage screenshot

The Online Coliving experience

Our leaders and fellow participants

Our retreat was led by Online Coliving founders Nikita and Anastasia. Both have been running multiple businesses while traveling the world as digital nomads for many years. They have organized and run in-person coliving experiences in places like Thailand and Sri Lanka and are now adapting those into online retreats.

Both Nikita and Anastasia exuded so much positivity at every twist and turn. They were completely nonjudgmental and accepting of all participants and all voices.

Founders of Online Coliving
Nikita and Anastasia, our fearless leaders 🙂

Our group was made up of a motley crew of folks from all over the world with completely different backgrounds. What we had in common though was an entrepreneurial spirit and our own businesses or projects we were working on.

One of my initial concerns was that I wasn’t “cut out” to be included in something like this. I felt intimidated by the prospect of meeting other people who are potentially way more successful than me. But it wasn’t that vibe at all. It wasn’t about competition or judgment but acceptance and giving instead.

What we did during our calls

Throughout the week, we met twice a day. Each day kicked off with an activity, whether it was five minutes of unfiltered journaling or a mini fitness class. Then we engaged with one another through guided one-on-one chats, pitch presentations, and TED-talk style workshops we presented for one another.

Online Coliving retreat screenshot
Our group!

My favorite group activity was the Mastermind. We split into smaller groups and each person had a chance to present a problem they were facing in their business. Then we all brainstormed solutions. It was like working to solve a puzzle, and it was great to get input from people with such different backgrounds and ways of thinking.

We all joined a Telegram group chat to stay connected when we weren’t on calls.

Related: 6 Activities to Maintain Emotional Connection While Social Distancing; Lessons I’ve learned after 2 years as a digital nomad

You get back what you put in

This is not the type of thing where you just sit back and listen; you will get back what you put in when it comes to a virtual coworking retreat. The more you participate, the more you share, the more value you will get from the retreat.

Staying focused was a challenge sometimes

Zoom meeting attention spans can be a lot shorter than in-person attention spans. Apparently, there is even something called “Zoom call fatigue”. I admittedly struggled to pay attention during the calls sometimes. This definitely wouldn’t stop me from doing the program again but is something to be aware of during it!

Benefits of a virtual coworking retreat

Accountability

We did daily check-ins where we recounted what we did that day. This helped me be more aware of how I was spending my time versus how I wanted to spend my time.

Routine

After quarantining alone for over 2 months, I was really struggling with establishing any semblance of a routine. Our twice-daily calls forced me to show up for something at the same time twice a day which I appreciated.

I had said at the start of the week that I was hoping to gain some structure in my week, and the online coliving calls definitely provided this. In fact, when the week was over, I really didn’t want it to end.

Telegram group chat virtual coworking screenshot
Nikita and Anastasia sent out our daily schedules through the group chat

Community

I don’t know about you but social distancing has made life pretty lonely lately! Even though we couldn’t hang out in person, there was still a strong sense of togetherness and support I felt from all the members of our coliving group.

Value and skills

I loved having the opportunity to learn from others and share my skills with them as well. At the beginning of the week, we all submitted ideas for a 20-minute TED talk style workshop. The group then voted on their favorites and we each put together and presented our workshop. The topics ranged from business agility to decision-making, to how to make prototypes and on and on. There was honestly so much value to be had. My workshop was all about using Pinterest to get more pageviews!

Screenshot of workshop during virtual coworking
From my Pinterest workshop

Conclusions & how to GET $10 OFF your Online Coliving retreat

I really didn’t want the virtual coworking retreat to end! It’s already quite difficult to connect with other digital nomads, and social distancing through this pandemic makes it even harder.

I don’t know if I would do virtual coworking if I could be traveling right now instead, but it’s an excellent alternative and the next best thing to IRL coworking. If you’re feeling isolated and are looking for a sense of community, I would say give it a try.

If you decide to try virtual coworking for yourself, you can use the code MISHVO for $10 off the next Online Coliving retreat.


A big thank you to Nikita and Anastasia for the opportunity to participate in Online Coliving. As always, all views are my own.
I tried virtual coworking and this was what it was like

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