Loneliness and isolation are often the companions of people running their own business and working from home.
But scores of workers in Ballarat have found a new workspace, and a more social setting, at Platypus Coworking since it opened almost a year ago.
Platypus Coworking was one of the first co-working spaces in Ballarat, offering shared office space as an alternative to work-at-home isolation.
Founder Samantha Davies said demand for the coworking space was growing as Ballarat's population grows and more professionals relocate to the city from Melbourne.
But some of the biggest surprises in her first year of operation has been the impact that coworking can have on mental health, and the benefits of the ability to network not just within fellow office sharers but the community in general.
Isolation and loneliness can both contribute to depression and other mental illness, and the ability to mix with people every day brings benefits to solo workers.
"You don't realise how insular your world can become when you talk to people on the phone all the time but don't actually see anyone," she said.
"Here you get to talk to different people, collaborate, meet other businesses you might not have heard about and learn about different ways of doing things.
"It can open your mind to thinking differently, talking to different people about their business triggers things in your mind that could take you down different pathways."
A broad range of businesses, freelancers and workers use the facilities at Platypus Coworking in Lydiard St, with some working there full time and others dropping in only when they need.
Then there's parents who work from home but also must contend with children. Some home working mums say they can get more work done in five hours in the office than eight hours at home, or others come in when children are home for school holidays so they can work without distraction.
Ms Davies said about 100 or so different workers had used the coworking space over the past 12 months, with about 20 regulars, but business is growing as more people learn about coworking spaces and seek them out.
"We have a big variety of workers, male and female from different industries. Some work for big companies and love Ballarat and have the flexibility to work from here - they don't have to be based in an office and can enjoy the beautiful lifestyle.
"Then we've got some who commute to Melbourne a few days then work here, people who consult ... everyone uses it in different ways.
"You do have to be tech-based, but most people are these days and if you can do everything you need on your laptop then you can work here."
Ms Davies decided to open the coworking space to take advantage of her existing skills in facility management and customer service.
"I always wanted to open my own business but it was trying to find one. I had a facility management background so I like buildings and operating and doing things like that, and I have a big customer service background so coworking was a good combination of my skills - helping business prosper and looking after the building side of things."
"And I was thinking it was something that Ballarat needed."
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.