The Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces
June 7, 2016
Coworking has grown by 36% in the past 12 months. As someone who has spent time in these spaces, I can tell you that they’re definitely worth the hype. Freelancers often struggle with loneliness, a lack of support and boredom. I know I have. Branching out into a coworking space is a great way to combat the difficulties that come with self-employment.
But every rose has its thorns, and while there are numerous positive aspects, there are an equal amount of negatives. I, for one, like going into a new experience with all the facts. That’s why today’s post will cover the good and bad experiences you’ll have in a coworking space.
Good: Support System
Working for yourself means facing the challenges of business alone. This often causes loneliness, discouragement and a host of unwarranted doubts. When you join a coworking community, you can overcome these feelings with support from other like-minded professionals.
When there are 7 other graphic designers working in the same space, you become keenly aware of your competition – especially if you’re all serving the same local area. The last thing you want is to see the lead you lost coming in for meetings with your competition.
Good: Lasting Friendships
It’s pretty difficult to build new relationships as an adult, which is why many use the office as a source for romance and friendship. In a coworking space, you gain back that pool of people. And because you’re all there of your own volition working toward similar goals, you’ll likely find even more compatibility than the typical office environment.
With so much going on, you may find it difficult to stay focused. Finding ways to stay productive is important if you want to make the most out of your day, maximize profitability and achieve your potential.
Even in the days of social media and texting, the adage remains true: It’s all about who you know. Coworking gives you the chance to reach out to a variety of industries, build connections and even land potential clients, collaborators and business partners.
Bad: Annoying Coworkers
The people at your coworking space become your coworkers, in a sense. This means dealing with personality quirks and annoying behaviors, just like any office space. Most people are pretty great, but one rotten apple can spoil the whole experience.
Good: Daily Structure
Schedules make me more productive, professional and profitable. By going to an office space, I’m less tempted to play with the dogs every 5 minutes, do errands at random times or get distracted with the television.
Bad: Work Hours
The coworking space where I live is only open during normal business hours – 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. As someone who often likes working nights or weekends, this is definitely a downside of paying for the office. Keep in mind, though, there are plenty of spaces that have 24 hour availability. Be sure to check with your local space.
Client meetings look a lot more professional when you host them in an actual office rather than a coffee shop or your home. This level of professionalism can improve how your professionalism is perceived.
Especially in open concept environments, it can get really loud throughout the day. Meetings, phone calls and in-office conversations increases the noise volume in the room. If you can only focus while it’s quiet, you might be better off getting your most important work done at home or in the library.
Good: See Others Succeed
It’s uplifting to be surrounded by others who are achieving their goals, to participate in their celebrations and join in rounds of high fives. These wins can serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for your own goals.
While seeing others win is great, there will be days when you find it frustrating. After all, why can’t your business grow like Bob’s? He’s only here three days a week, while you’re here every day working as hard as possible?
As you make friends in the space, collaborations on new projects are inevitable. Finally, you have the developer you’ve needed to launch that app idea! These types of projects are great ways to expand your business and build lasting relationships.
Bad: Losing Focus
If you want to reach success, you’ve got to have a vision. Collaborations may push you toward your ultimate goals, but they could also distract you and move your off course. Be mindful of this with any new project you take on, whether clients or partners.
Many spaces offer classes and events throughout the month. This can be a great way to brush up on your craft or learn a new skill. You could even partner with the space to host your own event, which could serve as a great stepping stone for public speaking.
With all the new friendships, projects, events and classes, your calendar will be more full than ever! Just make sure you don’t take on too much and neglect your paid work. Coworking should serve as a way to expand your career, not neglect clients and slack on projects.
Good: Work Separation
I used to have a loft with a very open-space design. While I typically love the feel, it also meant having to see my office while cooking or relaxing. With a coworking space, work is completely separate and home becomes a true oasis.
Unfortunately, all these benefits come at a price. Depending on where you live and how often you go, it can cost you several hundred dollars. If you’re just starting out or work part-time, it might not be a feasible expense.
As an extrovert, I get pumped being around others; it’s how I replenish my energy. Working from home all the time leaves me drained, uninspired and lonely. If you’re like me, coworking could be the perfect solution to always staying inspired and motivated.
If you need to make a call, the noise might be too high. If you want to work weekends, the space may not be available. If you’re on a budget, it may cost too much. Little complications can add up and become irksome, perhaps offsetting the inspiration you initially felt. Ultimately, you’ve got to decide if the ‘bad’ outweighs the ‘good’, and only you can decide that.
Now that you’re equipped with all the facts, are you still stoked about a coworking space? Or would you rather work from your bed in your pajamas?
I’d like to encourage everyone to contact their local space and give it a try. Most places have a free day-pass you can use to see if it’s a right fit. I know I love coworking, but the only way you’ll know for sure how you’ll feel is if you give it a try!
Do you have experience with coworking? Any good or bad experiences you’d like to add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
about the author
Chelsei Henderson is a content marketing consultant helping freelancers and entrepreneurs build successful companies in the digital world.