Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business or a brand-new startup, you’ve probably heard the hype about coworking spaces. What is it about these shared workspaces that’s getting everyone so excited, and how do they differ from regular offices? If you work from home, should you invest in your own coworking space – or is your money best spent elsewhere? Here’s everything you need to know about coworking spaces.
They’re ideal for (most) freelancers & startups
Coworking spaces are highly popular with freelancers. Having your own space gives you the best of both worlds: a peaceful office away from home where you can work independently and choose your own schedule (most coworking spaces are accessible 24/7). It also helps foster a spirit of community – something you’re hard pressed to find if you work from your spare room!
Coworking spaces are also used by startups and small teams. Cheaper to rent than a traditional office, they don’t require the same long-term commitment, whereas commercial offices usually ask for a minimum lease of two years. Renting an office space works more like gym membership, and many even offer drop-in options, where you pay as you go. This flexibility is especially useful for startups who are planning to expand, as housing more staff is as easy as adding on another member.
They often result in more meaningful, productive work
Another reason why coworking spaces have become so popular is the fact that they often help people become more productive. Studies show that people who use coworking spaces find it much easier to thrive – but why exactly?
One reason may be down to aesthetics and ambiance. Coworking spaces are meant to motivate people, and their design frequently reflects that; you won’t find flickering strip lights or beige cublicles here! Your average coworking space can provide you with a much nicer working atmosphere than a traditional office – both more creative and more tranquil.
Another might be that you’re surrounded by people who are working hard, and this rubs off on you. Many people are most productive when they’re working alongside other industrious people… if that sounds like you, finding your own hub of productivity and professionalism is probably a good idea!
Finally, for freelancers, the structure they provide can be essential to helping you focus on your work. Leaving the familiarity of your home to re-enter the mock workplace helps you establish boundaries between your personal and working spaces. Everything you need is provided, the distractions of your domestic life are removed and you have a quiet, purpose-built space to focus on the task at hand.
They can help with isolation and networking
If you work from home, you’ll already know how easy it is to get cabin fever. Having a coworking space can give you what’s often elusive: a reason to leave the house! No matter how nice your home office is, going out and getting fresh air can do wonders for your motivation and happiness… and even working one day a week at a coworking space can give you a powerful sense of place and purpose.
A coworking space is also a great place to expand your network. You’ll meet people from all industries and walks of life, and just visiting a coworking space opens you up to more collaboration opportunities. If you’re freelance but miss the social interaction and community of an office, a coworking space can be the missing link (some coworking spaces are also dog-friendly!).
They’re not for everyone
This all sounds great so far, but it’s key to remember that coworking spaces aren’t for everyone. Four questions to ask yourself before you invest in one are:
Do you like to work in silence? There are many different types of coworking spaces, and they vary from lively and bustling to peaceful and quiet. However, if you work best in near silence, think carefully before investing in a coworking space: even in the quieter ones there will likely be background noise from conversations or phone calls.
Are you easily distracted? Similar to the above, you’ll want to make sure you’re not going to get sidetracked before renting a coworking space. Test yourself by visiting a local coffee shop when it’s busy and trying to work. If you find yourself gazing out the window or idly watching people order drinks, coworking might not be for you.
Do you need your own premises? Depending on what you do, it may be beneficial to have your own premises, where you can build an established business and enjoy the privacy you need. Bear in mind that coworking spaces often lack privacy, so they’re not ideal if you don’t want people looking at your screen or listening in to your calls!
Do you like to be in control? If you’re in a coworking space, it’s not all about you anymore. You might not have the ability to control small things like room temperature or lighting… you don’t necessarily get to grab the big desk by the window… and if you’re a clean freak who’s bothered by other people’s clutter, there’s not much you can do about the messy desk next to you!