Coworking has exploded globally over the past two years. According to one study, there were more than 835,000 people working out of coworking spaces last year. The number of coworking spaces is expected to jump from 11,300 in 2016 to 13,800 by the end of this year. The largest companies in this space have secured several million dollars in funding to help expand their global footprint.
If you are someone like me who has spent several years working out of your home office, then the move to a coworking space can be a difficult decision to make. Let’s be honest, working from home has a lot of pros — and a few cons too. The biggest advantage is the time you save in commuting. Other advantages, like being able to take care of household errands, is a major plus too. But it’s also true that working from home can be incredibly lonely, especially if your job does not require you to talk to a lot of people.
One reason why I persisted with working from home was because of the lack of distraction from coworkers, or so I thought. I could get a lot more done when there isn’t someone around me talking loudly on their phone or making small-talk with their colleagues. But I decided to take a chance and in 2017, I moved to my first coworking space. So was it worth it? Here are a few pointers.
It definitely is true that you will be dealing with a lot more noise and chatter than in a home office. But what I have also noticed is that these minor distractions tend to keep you awake. I had come to enjoy the silence of my work environment at home. However, this also meant that you could have a quick nap or watch TV when you are not feeling very productive. In a coworking space, you have people working diligently all around you. The minutes you waste because of distractions are more than made up for by the hours you save by being extra productive.
Some people love networking. Others dread it. While I am personally not averse to making work friends, I did not want this to be a distraction. Unlike popular perception, coworking does not necessarily mean you automatically have to fake a smile at dozens of strangers you have no intention of befriending. There are all kinds of people in a coworking space, and people who choose to focus on work can do so without any problem.
At the same time, if you are a startup looking to find evangelists or partners for your business, then a coworking space provides an opportunity to do so. You are regularly invited to idea exchanges and community events that can help you find people with passion for solving the same issues as you do. Again, you can choose not to go to these events if you are not keen on attending them. The good thing about coworking spaces is that it caters to both types of workers in equal measure.
Coworking spaces aren’t really expensive unless you go to the fancier ones. In my observation however, there is a greater appeal among startups with a handful of employees rather than self-employed and freelancing professionals. Regardless of whether you are a startup with employees or a self-employed individual, there are coworking spaces that should fit your budget and needs.
The coworking space that I work out of is open round the clock. I hadn’t acknowledged the importance of this until I realized that there are a lot of spaces out there that are only open during normal office hours. This can be a real pain for high growth startups that tend to work 12 or even 14 hours a day. At the same time, if you are someone who only needs the space during regular work hours, you must know that you might still be paying for round-the-clock access. You may either want to negotiate your price or find another space that fits your budget.