If you’re a remote worker, working out of your spare bedroom or basement can be isolating. Even small teams who meet in someone’s dining room or at the coffee shop can feel separated from the rest of the workforce. Over time, isolation can lead to fatigue and poor productivity.
Furthermore, working in environments that aren’t made for work can be distracting. You’re exposed to stimuli that isn’t conducive to productivity. People in the coffee shop are loud. There aren’t any seats at the library. Or maybe your spouse wonders why you couldn’t do a load of laundry since “you’re home all day.”
If you’re one of those people who struggle working from home or in public places, you aren’t alone. Lifestyles are changing, and many people are now capable of working away from the traditional office setting (especially the millennial generation).
What is coworking?
Coworking is based on the idea that working alone doesn’t mean you have to be alone. You can still work in an environment designed for work. “Coworking is still an emerging industry and, while many people are now familiar with the term, it’s sometimes hard to explain,” says Diana McLaren of New Worker Magazine.
A coworking space is an office environment with all of the basic work amenities. There are desks, chairs, proper lighting, and access to Wi-Fi and power. In the best coworking spaces, you’ll find tables for small and large groups, quiet spaces for concentration, free snacks and coffee, and a clean, trendy design that clients can respect.
The most luxurious coworking spaces (and the most expensive) offer some incredible features that might be worth the money. Green Desk offers bike storage and a mail service. CoCo has a room filled with game consoles, dart boards and a foosball table. Hera Hub gives you access to paid staff who will work for you.
You’ll find all sorts of people using coworking spaces. Freelancers and solopreneurs are the most common type, but there are plenty of teams who enjoy the simplicity and flexibility. It’s common for solo workers to meet one another, collaborate, and even do business together in a coworking space. For some people, it’s a fantastic networking tactic.
Typically, coworking spaces charge by the seat. You can buy access on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Permanent desk spaces (where you have an assigned spot and can leave your stuff each day) cost about $387/month on average. Flexible spaces (where you find your own seat wherever you can) cost about $195/month on average. If a coworking space has a large conference room for use, there may be a reservation fee. Most spaces offer special rates for teams.
While there’s nothing preventing large teams from using coworking space, at a certain point (usually around six or seven full time team members), it may be smarter to rent a dedicated office space. In some coworking spaces, seats and desks are first-come-first-serve. If a large team is using a popular coworking space, finding enough adjacent seating can be difficult, which makes collaboration tough.
You can rent adjacent desks in a permanent-desk coworking space, but those cost more. Fortunately, bigger teams can get the same flexibility in a turnkey office space.
What’s the future of coworking?
Deskmag’s 2016 Coworking Forecast found the coworking trend will continue. They discovered that 62% of coworking space owners want to expand their spaces, and one out of three are looking to open another. 80% of coworking space members plan to stay where they are for another year and that overall satisfaction with the model is rising.
According to the Small Business Administration, there are 28 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 54% of all sales. A majority of people work for small businesses. Even though “corporate America” has been downsizing and outsourcing outside the country for years, the small business market has been growing. The number of startups have increased and their failure rate has declined.
This type of environment is perfect for the shared work model, which is why it’s becoming a permanent part of the American workstyle. Coworking spaces are popping up everywhere. Some are big players, like WeWork, which is valued at $16 billion.
“Coworking represents less than 1 percent of the world’s office space. But that tiny percentage, which represents nearly 11,000 shared workspaces exist around the globe, is certain to grow, according to many experts,” says Patrick Sisson on Curbed.
As workers divide into smaller, more flexible companies, they’ll need amenities that allow them to enjoy the benefits of a large business (having a trendy, comfortable work environment) without the cost.
Why work in a coworking space?
The benefits of coworking spaces extend beyond costs. There’s a good chance a coworking environment is right for you and your team.
1. Coworking exposes you to more people
Unlike traditional offices, coworkers work for a range of companies in different industries. There’s no direct competition between them. There are no internal office politics to deal with. Don’t like someone? Stop talking to them. There’s no pressure to behave a certain way.
You’ll also work near people with varying skillsets. There’s likely a programmer, a writer, and an executive somewhere in the room. Over time, you’ll learn about how your “coworkers” are adding value to the world, and you’ll be able to lean on each other for help.
2. Coworkers have more autonomy
Coworking spaces are usually available outside normal businesses hours. Early birds and night owls can work in a professional setting at their preferred time. They can choose to work in quiet spaces for focus, or communal spaces for collaboration and interaction. Coworkers are the type of people who prefer autonomous lifestyles, so a working environment that supports that is useful.
3. Coworking adds structure to liquid schedules
Autonomy is beneficial to the modern worker, but so is a little bit of structure. Coworking puts you in an environment where work is expected. Even though comforts are available, it’s still a working space that keeps you motivated.
A coworking office is a far more productive environment than a living room couch or a coffee shop. Plus there’s a community of people to silently judge you if you decide to blow off the day and play video games at your desk.
4. Coworking creates a community
Even though the members of a coworking space aren’t employed together, there is still a sense of community. For the most part, coworkers have a lot in common: They work for small or solo businesses, they are successful enough to afford rent, and they’re driven to work in a professional environment that limits distractions and spurs productivity. Socializing isn’t forced, but it’s available.
Furthermore, each coworking space has its own vibe and feel. Some are trendy, designed for young, tech-savvy and creative people. Some are modern and stark, designed for corporate folk. Others are prim and classic, designed for lawyers and other professionals. They come in all shapes and sizes.
So is coworking right for you?
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that for you. If you have a large team, then probably not. You need a dedicated space so everyone can be together. But if you’re alone or working with two or three other people, coworking might be a good arrangement.
If you’d like to look into coworking spaces for yourself and/or your team, contact us.