The Benefits and Drawbacks of Coworking Spaces
I understand the draw of a coworking space.
People have found ways to earn a living without needing to arrive at a physical location each day. There is freelancing, telecommuting, remote employment, solopreneurship, blogging, and I’m sure many more ways.
People with these sorts of incomes can work from home each and every day if they want. They can travel nonstop. They can work from a Starbucks or local coffee shop. But those people sometimes begin to miss the social aspects of an office or physical workplace.
When you go to work everyday with the same coworkers, you end up developing friendships and having conversations. You fall into a comfortable routine and experience a sense of shared community in the space where you work. The relatively new concept of a coworking space intends to fulfill some of those missing parts of work when working remotely.
Because most of the remote workers are able to work from just a laptop wherever they have an internet connection, they could easily wake up and do their entire day’s work from their kitchen counter or their couch. Instead of doing that, though, this type of person can choose to regularly work from the coworking space.
The coworking space is just like an office space any company might have, but it rents out each chair or cubicle to individuals who would like to work from there. Rents can be charged by the day or monthly, depending on the specific space. Mostly, people choose to work there regularly so that they can develop those relationships with other remote workers who choose to regularly work there as well.
The spaces are often beautiful or well decorated and have a break room and kitchen space. They are probably a bit of a step up from some of the dumpier offices many people work jobs at. So, people may feel more productive in doing their work because they are in a place dedicated to doing their work and are not distracted with the stuff going on at home and because the design of the space is intendedly conducive to motivation and productivity.
These are the reasons why coworking spaces exist, the needs they fulfill, and the benefits of using them.
Cons of Using a Coworking Space
While I can fully understand all of this and how it might be attractive to lonely remote workers who feel cooped up in their homes all the time, I don’t think a coworking space would be for me.
I am motivated to find a way to separate my income from the need to travel regularly to a physical location. I am not lazy. I enjoy work. I want to work hard and produce and accomplish a lot. But I do not want to deal with traffic, commute time, and travel during the winter when the roads are snowy and icy.
I want to feel comfortable in my home, always able to grab food from my fridge or lay down on the couch for a bit. I want to be able to take a brief break to watch a couple minutes of television news. And I really don’t want to deal with petty, gossiping coworkers in a constant environment of office politics.
By choosing to use a coworking space, I would be re-subjecting myself to all of the things I was trying to escape in the first place. In addition to all that, I don’t do my best work when there is a lot of noise and talking happening. I am most productive in silence. At home I control the ambience, and so I can achieve silence. At a coworking space, there will always be some noise or conversation happening, which would be too distracting for me to be ideal.
I have not escaped a typical job yet, and I have never used a coworking space, so I guess I don’t know fully their use to people in that situation. Maybe a person enjoys working from home for several months or even years, but at some point it just gets old and you miss what you once had at an office.
That must be the case, because I can’t imagine being lucky enough to find a way to not need to go to an office, just to begin paying rent so that you can go work in an office.
It might be much different from a typical office because it is all much more voluntary and free. At an office job, you need to keep the job to pay bills, so you are stuck if you find you don’t like it, but with the coworking space, you don’t need to be there, so if you don’t like it you can just go.
Having the freedom to leave at any time without consequence must be very empowering and makes the entire concept of an office much different.
Maybe it’s a much more social environment than a regular office. More like working from a brewery taproom with friends than working under the watchful eye of a boss who would chide your office conversation.
If I ever find myself in that golden situation of workplace independence, I think I might try using a coworking space for at least a couple weeks just to try it out and be able to say that I’ve done it.
I might find that I love it. I might grow my personal social group to include those people who are entrepreneurial because they’ve found a way to have work that would allow them to also work from a coworking space. I think I would very much enjoy friendship with other entrepreneurs, and those friendships might spur on further businesses.
There seems to be something beneficial to using coworking spaces because people continue to use them, and the spaces continue to operate. If nothing else, they often place you nearer great lunchtime restaurants so you can grab a quick bite during your workday.
Have you ever used a coworking space? Have you found work that allows you to be location independent? Tell me in the comments!