Coworking is a growing trend among freelancers, bloggers, and remote workers. The total number of shared workspaces is projected to grow to 30,000 by 2022 (a 16.1% annual growth rate).
As the gig economy continues to expand, more and more people are considering whether or not a coworking space is a good solution for them. But is sharing a workspace the right workplace situation for you?
There are pros and cons to these types of offices. Let’s review some of them before you commit.
Shared workspace plans generally are cheaper and more flexible than leasing traditional offices. Most coworking companies offer different price plans depending on the type of desk option you require, whether it be a private office, dedicated desk, or "hot desk" (open desks available on a first come, first served basis). Only want the space for a few months? That’s an option, too; no year-long lease needed.
Ease of Use/Amenities
With these office spaces, there’s no assembly required. The furniture, office supplies, and internet — even snacks and mail delivery in many locations — already are there for you. You won’t need to worry about setting up an office, which allows you to get right to work.
In a coworking office, you’re typically working alongside other creative, motivated, and hard-working people. The ability to utilize this community for feedback and inspiration is incredibly valuable. You may even meet potential customers or form relationships that lead to partnerships down the line.
Sense of Community
Working from home can be isolating. Many coworking spaces offer social events with guest speakers and advice sessions to help bring the people in the office together. There also are regular happy hours and lunches that mean plenty of opportunities to build relationships and network. This “cool” factor is a big draw for many workers.
If you work from home, maybe you’ve complained that it always feels like you are on call. Or perhaps you have trouble getting motivated because something interesting is on the TV or your dog wants to play. Having a dedicated workspace in an office can give you more of a sense of routine and structure. And with operating hours typically set at 9-5, it means that when your workday ends, so does the work.
Mental Health Benefits
According to a recent survey, 84% of co-workers said the communal environment made them more engaged and motivated, and 89% reported being happier in the shared space. These offices also usually have an abundance of natural light -- a natural mood-booster for many people who are tired of the fluorescent lighting in more traditional offices.
Cons of Shared Workspaces
Yes, pricing is both a pro and a con when considering shared office spaces. Working from home or Starbucks is generally a big money saver, so while coworking offices have flexible payment options, it’s still a monthly fee that freelancers would need to adjust to. Hot desk spaces in big cities can start at $200/month, so make sure to factor the cost into your decision if you’re self-employed.
Lack of Privacy
Privacy is a concern for many professionals, and it may be something you have to sacrifice in a coworking office. Because these are typically open offices designed for more collaboration (read: less walls), get used to potential distractions and everyone hearing your phone conversations. If you write about sensitive topics, a private office may be the best solution. If you typically make a lot of phone calls during the day, find out if the office includes phone booths or designated areas for making calls.
Speaking of distractions, this is something you will have to plan for unless you go with a private office plan. Those special events may be fun, but they also can draw attention away from the task at hand. You also don’t have control over other teams' meetings or the volume of your neighbor’s music or “inside voice.” If your job requires intense concentration, the open coworking spaces may not be the best option for you. You also might consider investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Lack of HR
Like any office environment, there may be someone in the space that you don’t necessarily “gel” with. However, without a traditional HR department, any conflicts in one of these modern offices generally will have to be handled by the two parties.
During peak office times, unless you have a membership plan that includes a designated desk, you may have to wait for a space to free up. This can affect productivity and your ability to meet deadlines, so take it into consideration.
So, is coworking right for you?
Overall, shared workspaces offer great benefits for freelancers and remote workers. They present opportunities for collaboration with like-minded individuals, socializing, and can even improve your mood.
But this is only one solution for anyone needing a workspace, so it’s important to weigh your options and consider the pros and cons before committing.
Check out coworking locations near you and see if they offer day passes to experience the environment in person. This would allow you to test drive the space and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Do you use a coworking space and have more feedback? Let us know in the comments.