Have you considered joining a coworking space? After all, they seem to be popping up everywhere. Coworking spaces have also become synonymous with startup culture.
The truth is there are pros and cons to joining a coworking space. Take it from me, I was a member of one for two years and recently canceled my membership. Whether or not you’ll benefit from a coworking space really just depends on you, your team and your situation.
In an effort to help you make the best decision for yourself, I’m laying out the pros and cons of joining a coworking space.
Coworking spaces are generally pretty affordable. At the very least, they certainly cost far less money than leasing office space. CoWorking spaces are also usually in hot neighborhoods where a lot of business goes down.
Now, things have changed when it comes to the cost of coworking spaces which is actually one of the reasons I canceled my membership. There are now spaces available where you can go cowork for free, therefore paying to cowork doesn’t necessarily make sense. For example, I have a client in Denver who has access to free coworking spaces. Or, my bank (yes, my bank), is opening up cafes in my area that look like coworking spaces. I can go work there for free.
Of course, I can get away with working at a free space because I hardly ever have in-person meetings. If I was a lawyer or my clientele expects and office space, then it would be a little different. In that case, I could get a dedicated space at a coworking space for less than the cost of a lease.
Additionally, some apartment buildings are also now combined with work spaces. My friend lives in a loft and the upper floors of her building are office spaces. She can use them and it’s already included in her rent. With more options like this, it’s making coworking spaces a little obsolete.
Coworking spaces are usually in good locations. Every hot neighborhood in my city has a few coworking spaces to choose from. In my case, I was able to walk to my coworking space from my apartment.
Additionally, they are usually in areas where there is a lot of business or commerce. This includes downtown areas, near main streets and, as I already mentioned, trendy neighborhoods.
The downside to this is traffic. Granted, I didn’t have to worry about it because I could walk to my space. However, I never understood why people would choose to drive to a coworking space given the traffic nightmare near all of them.
Another upside is if you have a local team, you can meet at the coworking space instead of your home. I don’t have a local team so this totally doesn’t apply to me.
The actual spaces.
I have to give it to coworking spaces, their interiors are amazing. There is a lot to be said for how our work environment affects our productivity, and coworking spaces take this very seriously.
Granted, I feel like some do this better than others. It can also be a matter of opinion. For example, I don’t get the dimly lit coworking spaces. They make me want to shut down. I’m also not a huge fan of mostly open floor planning or the community desk area being next to a bar.
But, like I said, that’s a matter of opinion. Overall, I have no cons about interiors.
Part of the appeal of joining a coworking space is having access to a network of other professionals.
As with interiors, some spaces do this better than others. For example, some coworking spaces give you access to an app or an online directory. Other coworking spaces are far better at putting on community events.
Either way networking is a key part of running a successful business and it’s really hard to do that from your home. It was actually joining a coworking space that helped me get more in tune with Miami startup culture. While none of my clientele is local to me, it still helps to know people in the area.
Furthermore, the only part I miss about needing to be at an office every day is being around other people. With a coworking space you have “coworkers” without the baggage of traditional coworkers.
One of the major pros of coworking spaces is the flexibility they allow you. The reason I joined a coworking space in the first place was that I had a situation going on at home that made it difficult for me to work. The coworking space provided the temporary solution I needed at the time.
Now that things have settled, I’ve canceled my membership because I no longer need it. I’m one of those people who actually like working from home. If I ever feel like I need to be around other humans I just go to a coffee shop. Or, as is the case now, I can co-work for free in other locations.
There is also something else you need to keep in mind. Different co-working spaces have different policies for contracts. For example, mine would lock you in for six months to a year which worked for what I needed at the time. Others are month to month. It depends on the space so make sure to shop around.
Coworking spaces also offer different options at different prices. They have day rates, weekly rates, community rates, dedicated desk rates and private office rates. Again, what you need depends on you.
The environment of coworking spaces is a tossup between pros and cons. To be fair, it’s a 50/50. Some spaces are definitely crazier than others, however here are my thoughts based on my personal experience.
The benefits of an environment in a coworking space is you’re around people who get you. I also notice people tend to be in a better mood. Often times its because they are working on stuff they actually like to do. Most people are also entrepreneurial and therefore pushing themselves to be better every day. It’s good to be around people like that.
Here’s the con: Sometimes its way too many people. Again, this could depend on location. The original location of where I went to cowork was great because it was quieter. When I moved and started going to another location, it was a different story entirely. There was barely a moment where I could get a phone booth to take a call. It’s also difficult to do stuff like film videos for clients or record podcasts without shelling out for your own private space which makes no sense for my business.
I’ve also been to coworking spaces that are like a party on a Friday. I walked in and thought, “Oh my gosh if it has this many people on a Friday I don’t even want to know about Tuesday.”
I have to be fair, though. This totally depends on the coworking space and it’s location. It’s not fair for me to group them all together and assume they are all like this.
Joining a coworking space can be a great move depending on your business. It certainly helped me when I needed it. Regardless of the fact that I canceled, I still believe they fit a major need in the market for business owners.
Amanda is a best-selling author of "Make Money Your Honey", a book that helps freelancers and business owners understand their relationship with money and how to make it more productive. She's driven by helping others live the most productive and fruitful way possible.