As coworking continues to gain popularity, more and more people are raising the question, what exactly is a coworking space?
In this comprehensive article we’ll talk about the basics of a coworking space, how to choose a good one (some things you should look for, some things you should avoid), what types of people can benefit from this sort of space, and we’ll go over any other common questions you might be thinking about.
Wondering if a coworking space is right for you?
It might be, it might not be… let’s find out.
What Is a Coworking Space?
Generally speaking, the definition of coworking is when people assemble in a neutral space to work independently on different projects, or in groups on the same projects. It’s different than a typical office work space because the people in a coworking environment generally aren’t working for the same company.
Coworking spaces offer the same amenities you would find in a traditional office, along with a lot more. A major differentiator is flexibility, since you don’t need to sign a long-term lease in a coworking space.
Every coworking space will always have basics like WiFi, printers, usually some type of conference room… and some will have tea, coffee, and snacks available.
Some will have startup resources at your disposal ranging from digital assets, and even coaches and advisors. Some may have 3D printers and other tech that you may not always have access to. Some budget-conscious coworking spaces are more barebones, offering little more than a desk and WiFi.
The 5 Biggest Advantages of Coworking
We’ll touch on many of these benefits of coworking spaces throughout this article, but here’s a rundown of the major reasons why people love using coworking spaces.
- Motivation: There’s just an energy of productivity in the air when you’re in a room full of driven people. It’s nearly impossible to slack off. You will get a lot done.
- Community: There’s a sense of community. In places with regulars and familiar faces, it’s amazing how far above and beyond the community will go to help one another succeed.
- Flexibility: Rather than signing a long-term lease, you can get much more flexible deals with coworking spaces. It’s great for startups with small bootstrap budgets, and even independent freelancers can find affordable options.
- Getting Outside of the Home: Working from home is great, but it’s easy to fall into a rut, too. Being around other people is good for your spirits, it can keep you sharp and is great for creativity.
- Networking: When you have so many people with so much in common, it’s only a matter of time until you start to network and new opportunities start to flow organically.
Who Uses Coworking Spaces?
Coworking spaces are popular in the startup and freelancing worlds. When you think “startup”, you may picture some over the top office building where everyone rides around on unicycles and sits in giant bean bag chairs, but most startups aren’t blowing through VC cash like that and have to be very budget-conscious.
Having a pay-as-go type of arrangement for office space can save a fortune for startups.
Not only that, but a coworking space is a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and freelancers, it’s an excellent place to network.
Whether you’re a digital publisher, a creative freelancer, a programmer, or more of a Jack/Jill of All Trades, there’s a very high likelihood you’ll meet people at a coworking space that are working on similar things that you are.
Beyond that, you may even have a chance to chat with people that can help out with some of the areas you’re lacking in. When you have so many people in one space, with such a diversity of talents, it’s incredible what you can come up with – even if everyone’s kind of doing their own thing.
Don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like everyone is just sitting around talking to everybody about their projects, but there’s definitely a bit of downtime and areas you can chat while taking a break.
But the real appeal is the raw, unadulterated focus and motivation you’ll encounter in most good coworking spaces. There’s truly a special energy when you’ve got a room filled with motivated people who are all working towards building their dreams.
Working from Home vs Coworking
There are pros and cons to the classic “office culture”. Many online-based entrepreneurs get into business for themselves in order to escape certain aspects of the typical corporate lifestyle and culture. Working remotely has opened up all sorts of possibilities when it comes to running a business, or even working for someone else. Despite the benefits, there are certain things you miss out on, too.
Working from home, or hotel rooms, has countless advantages. It’s great to be able to wake up when you want, take breaks when you want, wear pants when you want…
But at the end of the day, it’s also easy to lose focus and get off track. There’s something about being in an office setting that helps to keep you motivated, on-task, and getting the most out of your time.
When you’re a freelancer or anyone else who sets your own schedule, it’s great to not have a boss looking over your shoulder and tracking your time, but you are still accountable to yourself.
There’s a certain amount of accountability that exists when you’re working among other people, even if they have nothing to do with your project, they aren’t your coworkers, and you don’t even speak a word to them.
Choosing a Coworking Space
There are a number of different types of spaces that could fall under the coworking banner, so before making your selection, you’ll want to ensure the one you’re looking at has everything you need.
There are drop-in locations for very short-term work, there are some that’ll have conference and meeting rooms, private offices that you can rent short-term, and just about everything in between.
If you need a projector, or a large meeting room, or even an on-location business consultant, you can find places that’ll have everything you need.
Most medium to large cities will have at least one or two dedicated coworking spaces that you can find with a quick search. Beyond that, apps like DropDesk work to create an entire network of coworking opportunities, making it easy for workers to connect with open workspaces, to browse exactly what each location offers, and to choose the one that fits best.
The Future of Coworking
As young people continue to realize that they don’t necessarily have to fall in line and follow a more traditional path in their careers, it’s likely we’ll see an increase in the amount of freelancers and entrepreneurs who make the leap.
This will be led by technology, awareness, and opportunity. People growing up now and entering the workforce won’t know of things working any other way, it’s gradually becoming the new normal.
It’s unlikely that coworking will replace office buildings in general, or that everyone will one day become a freelancer.
Large organizations will still continue to thrive, and new ones will be built from the ground up, but they may focus less on having centralized locations and more on offering perks like remote working, when it’s possible.
There were roughly 57.3 million freelancers in the United States alone in 2017, and by 2027, they estimate that the majority of the U.S. workforce will do some type of freelance work, in some capacity, including people who have a side gig as a freelancer and do it part-time.
Should You Try Coworking?
If you’re curious about trying out coworking, the best thing you can do is just to give it a shot. If you just want to go in, get your work done and then leave, and you’re concerned about any social obligations: don’t be. It’s like the gym.
Everyone is there to do a very specific task, and if you are in the zone, nobody is going to bother you. If you’re open to chatting and being approached, you’ll meet some great local entrepreneurs and build a coworking community.
If you’re feeling stagnant in your business, your startup, your app, your blog, or whatever else you’re working on… spending some time coworking could be exactly what you need to get things flowing again.