How To Decide if a Coworking Space is Right for You: Pros and Cons from a Pro
By Trish Kalbas-Schmidt
Working at home for yourself or working remotely for someone else is a great opportunity, but just like with anything it has its blessings and its curses. Working from anywhere is starting to become the norm as people seek flexibility in their work life in an effort to create more work-life balance. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you will likely join more and more people who are working from anywhere and everywhere but an actual dedicated office. And COVID gave us an unexpected test drive in remote work that helped leaders realize people can and will be their best anywhere they are.
When the decision of your work location is up to you, it may be difficult to weigh the factors and research the options. I reflected on my own experience as an independent contractor to identify key pros and cons.
Reflecting on Personal Experience
After three years of working at my home office, I found myself running out of motivation, missing office dynamics and people, and needing to escape the washing machine that always seemed to be needing a load. Never mind my closest friend was becoming the big silver “box” in the kitchen. The “freshman 15” became the “COVID 19,” and for those of us who stayed home beyond that, it was becoming a trap we couldn’t escape. I needed to get out of my home because it wasn’t relaxing to be there even after I closed the laptop at night.
Encouraged by a friend, yet dragging my feet, I started to investigate some coworking spaces. It turned out to be the best decision I ever made. I found a great space that has been worth every penny for me . . . let me break it down for you.
Pros of Remote Work in a Coworking Space:
- Creating a Community and Friendships As more and more people work remotely, and we spread our wings, we often feel like the lone dove out there. The flexibility of working remotely is incredible, but it also can be incredibly lonely. Joining a coworking space puts you with others who are in the same club and can relate to you in so many ways, no matter what industry they are in! And those “happy hours” and social events always help us ease into meeting new people.
- Surprise Collaboration and Network Opportunities Because coworking spaces bring together so many people from different places, industries, and passions, it is an incredible opportunity to network and potentially find a collaborator. Often these spaces collaborate with local economic development organizations and can offer additional resources and opportunities as well.
- “Peer Pressure” I am talking about the good kind of peer pressure, I promise! Your fridge is never going to tell you to get back to your desk. Having people around you who are working and driven can help you stay focused and continue to achieve your goals. You may find yourself being inspired by those around you.
- Office Supplies . . . Need I say more? (Just think Office Space.) Coworking spaces often provide the office supplies you need, and more. Printer, scanner, copier, pens, envelopes, sticky notes . . . and let's be honest, who buys envelopes anymore??!!! Thank goodness coworking spaces do so if it comes down to it you can use just one and not have to buy 100! And don’t even get me started on the cost of ink!
- Internet Reliability and Speed If you share a home with anyone else, live in an apartment building, or reside in a rural area, this can be a big issue. Often coworking spaces have high-speed robust internet that functions well no matter how many users. No more yelling at your roommates to stop streaming while you are on a call!
- Coffee…Can we talk about the coffee???? FREE COFFEE at any time of the day . . . brewed in a machine much better than the machines we have at home! And it isn’t just coffee, generally coworking spaces have a fridge stocked with soda, water, and even some beers. Oh, and let's not forget about the snack drawers and kitchen!
- No Dress Code Required Listen, we all need a reason to shed the stretchy pants for some real clothes every once in a while, or not. Dressing for work, whatever that means for your job, can make a huge difference in how you feel while working. And it’s part of the mental shift that helps separate your home life and your work life. #dressforsuccess
- Claiming Your Space Working at a coworking space is way better than a coffee shop where you have to fight for an outlet or a chair, and you have to bring your laptop to “powder your nose.” #priceless
- Affordable, Flexible, and No Commitment Needed! Coworking spaces often offer different types of memberships, from part-time to full-time, as well as options for the number of open or office spaces. There is generally no “lease” required, it is a month-to-month agreement. Coworking spaces offer those who don’t mind working out in the open a much better setup than a coffee shop. And for those who want an actual office space with a locked door, that is available too. It just depends on your budget and your needs. What is great is you don’t need to have an office to meet with clients or potential clients. Coworking spaces offer meeting rooms you can rent by the hour or the day. In addition, coworking spaces are often open 24/7 so you can access them whenever you need or want to.
- Can You Say Deductible??!!! Using a coworking space may be written off as rent for your business. Be sure to ask your accountant!
Cons of Remote Work in a Coworking Space:
- The good news is it is not your space, the bad news is it is not your space You need to keep in mind it is a shared space. You will pay for privacy. There may be noise or distractions. The amount of distraction and privacy will also depend on whether you are working in the “open” space or have rented a private office space.
- “Sorry, no coffee today” (The coffee machine is broken.) If something is broken, whether the coffee machine or printer, it will be fixed, but you may have to wait. You are on their schedule and dime, not your own.
- Temperature Control . . . or no control at all . . . Office buildings are notorious for being either too cold or too hot . . . coworking spaces are no different. Just pack an extra layer and your flip flops!
- It's More Expensive Than Home If you are already working from home, this is an added cost. (And you generally cannot do your laundry at the same time.)
Coworking spaces are not for everyone, but I do encourage everyone to try it. It is a great chance to learn new things, learn about new people, and potentially learn about yourself. If you are feeling low on motivation, need a change of scenery, or are ready to shift your business into a new gear through increased focus, a coworking space might be a good solution. After two years of unexpectedness why not? What have you got to lose?!
About Trish Kalbas-Schmidt
Trish Kalbas-Schmidt, founder of TKS Consulting, serves as an educational consultant specializing in program strategy and development, including curriculum, communication and organization planning, leadership, community outreach, partner building and collaboration, learning management systems (LMS), and program management, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship education and training. As director of the My Own Business Institute (MOBI) at Santa Clara University (SCU), Trish managed the transition of the world’s leading provider of free online education to the University. Trish is a strategic consultant for MOBI, including the areas of partner development, LMS management, and curriculum programming.