I love coworking. I had no idea that this was actually a “thing” until recently.
For many months, I would do freelance work at home. Or if I needed to be around other people, I’d head to Barnes & Noble and hit Starbucks WiFi for a few hours.
Six months ago, my career with The Fun Times Guide became my full-time passion and I love it!
Working from home has had its challenges, however:
- I was born to be around other people. I found working from home full-time to be a little isolating and my productivity wasn’t where it needed to be.
- At home, I was easily distracted by the Real Housewives and Dr. Phil.
- My cat and dog were tired of me trying to talk to them during the day (and they weren’t good at brainstorming with me).
- I needed an outlet… and I was burned out on Starbucks.
What makes a coworking space – defined as membership-based work space where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting — so effective for many is a combination of benefits that just might appeal to you, t00, if you work from home.
Following are some of the benefits and downsides of co-working, how to find co-working space, and what to expect when you start working from a shared workspace.
First, The Downsides Of Coworking
Let’s just get right to it — I’ll share the disadvantages of using a co-working space first.
If you’re considering a coworking office, you need to what to expect:
#1 – You must wear clothes.
You’ll be forced to wear your clothes at your coworking office. (No, I haven’t been spying on you, but there were many days I worked with bedhead and wearing Pjs). Put your shoes on, brush your teeth, and get out of the house. For those of you who like to work semi-nude, I would strongly advise against entering a coworking space in your habitual or more “natural” attire.
#2 – You might not get the corner office.
Co-working spaces are not as quiet as private offices. Working on keyboards, flicking through books, and opening doors could all become very annoying. Of course, if you’re determined to make it work, you could always get a pair of good ear plugs.
#3 – People might try to talk to you.
Interruptions are always going to happen. People tend to cluster and talk about non-work-related issues to the annoyance of the diligent worker. If you hate human beings, on top of everything else, a shared workspace will not provide a happy experience.
#4 – Nothing is free.
Whether it’s a monthly fee or a transportation ticket, you’ll need to pay something to enjoy the advantages of co-working.
Now, The Benefits Of Coworking
If I haven’t scared you off with the disadvantages (they really weren’t that bad, right?) — let’s see what you’ll gain by joining a coworking space.
Unlike a traditional office, co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in.
Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make your own work identity stronger.
The coworking market now has over 7,000 players around the globe. Coworking operators have emerged alongside the startup boom. While everyone has been reading and talking about fintech, virtual reality and drones, this fast growing, new sub sector of the real estate market has become one of the largest startup segments, hiding in plain sight. Source
As I said, I’ve been working from an awesome co-working space for awhile now. I like it for these reasons:
#1 – You can grow your personal & professional network.
Having people to talk to and collaborate with, having a daily routine, having a desk that isn’t 3 feet away from my bed — are all benefits of coworking that I enjoy. Unlike a “normal” employee, I get to enjoy all these perks without the hassle of dealing with pesky coworkers or office politics.
Here are some tips for networking in a coworking space:
- Strike up conversations. Sometimes I’m nose down on my laptop all day and don’t want to chit chat with people (and that’s acceptable, as well). There are other days when I go out of my way to talk with others in my shared workspace and find out what they do for work.
- Share knowledge. I’ve been asked some specific questions about writing/editing that have been helpful to other coworkers, and I’ve asked questions of others to gain knowledge.
- Share useful office items. If the company you work for happens to have some promo items, consider bringing some in to share with your co-workers — like staplers, pens, sticky notes.
#2 – It’s an affordable option for office space.
Is it a better option for you financially? Consider this:
Coworking spaces can cost as low as $45/month, which gives access to a conference room or workspace for the day. If you’re looking for a full-time space to work, the cost is still cheaper than your typical office, ranging from $300/month to $450/month. If you need a dedicated private office in a coworking or shared workspace, prices range from $750/month to $2,000/month on average. Source
Still unsure if it’s a good option for you financially? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How big is your company? Fewer than 6 people makes you an attractive client to a co-working office.
- Are you trying to network or grow your business? If not, and you’re happy working at home, then it might not be for you.
- Do you want the perks of a startup without paying for it? Costs of starting out on your own tend to really add up, so a co-working office is a good place to test the waters.
#3 – You have a sense of community… and belonging.
I love that socializing isn’t compulsory or forced. Shared workspace members can choose when and how to interact with others.
So far in the few months I have been working from my coworking space, we’ve had 2 lunch ‘n learns, a minor league baseball outing, a new member happy hour, 2 cookouts, a walking group was formed, and they’ve partnered with a massage therapist that comes in once a week and charges just $1 per hour for members!
Pretty cool huh? Although I haven’t participated in all of the events, I’ve had a lot of fun when I’ve been able to, and the events have been well-attended.
Each coworking space has its own unique culture — so take the time to find one that is right for you.
#4 – Your productivity increases due to fewer distractions.
Today, there are more than 2,300 co-working spaces in operation, up from zero a few short years ago.
This incredible growth has made coworking the fastest growing work trend this decade. Extensive research suggests that co-working spaces have become the most productive places to work — over the home and traditional office environments.
Here are some amazing stats regarding the benefits of coworking:
- 74% of coworkers are more productive.
- 86% have a larger business network.
- 93% have a bigger social network.
- 2 out of 3 workers feel more creative and collaborate more on projects.
- 1 out of 3 workers reported an increase in income.
#5 – You can use other coworking spaces.
Since I have a membership at The Candy Factory in Lancaster, PA — I can also use the sister location Rock Candy which is only 20 minutes away in Lititz, PA.
There are so many larger coworking companies that offer multiple locations as well.
Here are a few of the larger co-working spaces around the country:
Find A Coworking Space Nearby
Here are some great resources to help you find co-working spaces near you:
- 9 Co-Working Apps That Can Help You Find Work Space
- Desksurfing: How To Find Co-working Space Near You
- 7 Ways To Find A Coworking Space