Coworking is becoming increasingly popular as more people take on side hustles, business owners work to reduce operating costs, and work-from-home employees look to regain some work/ life balance.
Coworking is when you rent space in a communal office and share it with other freelancers, business owners, and employees.
And can you use it to operate your business more efficiently? We’ll talk about the true definition of coworking, its benefits, and how you might be able to use it to your advantage.
What Is Coworking?
If you haven’t heard the term “coworking” before, you may be wondering exactly what it means.
Wikipedia explains as such:
“Coworking is an arrangement in which workers of different companies share an office space, allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructures, such as equipment, utilities, and receptionist and custodial services, and in some cases, refreshments and parcel acceptance services.”
That leads to the question: what does a coworking space look like? The beauty of a coworking space is that it can encompass a variety of design ideas.
Some coworking offices may look more cozy, with a more cafe-like atmosphere. Others may have the cleaner, crisper environment of a working office.
You can find coworking spaces in a variety of building spaces. Some companies build them in repurposed warehouses, others are designed at restaurants or hotels. Evening event spaces can be repurposed into daytime coworking locations.
Most coworking spaces offer access to common amenities such as coffee makers, office machines including printers, group meeting rooms, and individual desk spaces.
Desk spaces can vary widely too, from one room with multiple desks, to cubicle work spaces, to individual offices.
What Are The Benefits Of Coworking?
Using a coworking space can have several benefits for workers, whether you’re a remote worker for a large company, a sole proprietor, or a business owner without a building of your own.
Business Cost Reduction
One of the largest and most immediate benefits of utilizing a coworking space is that it helps reduce business costs. Renting coworking spaces can be dramatically less costly than buying or renting your own building location.
In addition, when you’re renting your coworking space you don’t have to worry about maintenance. Nor do you have to worry about furnishing and upkeep of copy machines and other amenities.
Those expenses and the work that comes with them are the responsibility of the company that owns and manages the workspace.
Another powerful benefit of coworking is the socialization aspect. One of the biggest downsides of working from home is the lack of human interaction.
You’re not able to chat face-to-face with someone during a coffee break or sneak to the office next door to bounce an idea off of your coworker.
While working from home is often ideal for many employees or business owners, the downside is that it can be lonely as well. That’s one of the reasons coworking spaces can be so effective.
You can still retain your ability to work from home, but also have the option to step into an office setting and interact with your fellow coworkers.
Being In A “Work” Environment
One big hurdle when it comes to working from home is mentally differentiating between work and home spaces.
It can be very challenging to balance work and home life when you both work and play in the same space. Some will find that tasks like organization, time management, and productivity can be hindered. While others will struggle to “turn off” after work and relax – which leads to burnout.
However, when using a coworking space with an office setting, it’s much easier for your brain to switch into a productive mode while you are at work and then turn off at the end of the day for relaxing and enjoying time with family.
Being in an office setting outside of the home helps the mind stay focused and organized. And being focused helps you achieve your peak productivity levels.
Related: 21 Productivity Apps
Avoiding Home/Family Life Distractions
Another issue when it comes to working from home is family distractions. If your partner, your kids, or your pets are at home during the day, the hustle and bustle can be distracting.
In addition, there are always tasks to be done around the house whether it be cooking, cleaning, letting the dog outside, or maybe you’d just like to go to the park with the rest of the family.
Even if you know you have work to do, the idea of sitting down to watch a movie with your family (or dogs), or organizing the kitchen cupboard can be a tempting alternative to getting your work done.
When utilizing a coworking space, those home distractions are eliminated, enabling you to have a much smoother and distraction-free workday.
The opposite is also true. Pings from Slack, work emails, and other work tasks don’t feel as pressing when there is nothing you can do about it until you get back to the office. It’s a different story when your work computer is sitting in the next room.
Last but not least, you can make a lot of connections while in a coworking environment! A great benefit of coworking environments is the fact that, not only do you get to socialize with and work with other people, but those people will be of all different sorts of fields or backgrounds.
You’ll have the opportunities to befriend people with skills and knowledge different from your own. That opens great opportunities to make connections, share knowledge and help each other with new skills for both yourself and your coworkers.
And having those connections can be a great opportunity for networking your business.
Who Is Coworking For?
One of the things that makes coworking spaces so great is the variety of professionals that work within these spaces. Digital nomads, freelancers, remote workers, and startup teams are just a few of the professionals that may utilize the amenities and convenience of a coworking space.
However, being that coworking is such a flexible, productive and cost-friendly environment, you’re likely to find that these spaces are utilized by workers of many fields and skillsets.
Coworking spaces are great options for freelancers, as they offer a great way to work from home — but outside of the home.
Utilizing these spaces also helps encourage a sense of professionalism, helps keep home and work life separate, and also quells the urge to work all day in your pajamas.
Maybe you’re an entrepreneur or startup who dreams of opening their own business or office space, but you aren’t quite there yet.
If so, coworking spaces can be a great option for you in the interim. They’re a great space to work at and be independent as a growing entrepreneur, but they won’t break the bank either.
And the cost savings will allow you to put that extra money towards growing your business.
Cost-Conscious Business Owners
Coworking spaces are also great options for cost-conscious business owners. Many companies will rent out entire coworking spaces as opposed to purchasing or renting a full office building to work in.
Doing so is often much more cost-friendly, and eliminates the need to worry about furnishing, upkeep and maintenance.
Related: The Keys To Successfully Managing Remote Teams
Tips For Choosing a Coworking Space
Finding the right coworking space for you depends on a number of factors, including what you do. Here are some factors to keep in mind.
Location is a large aspect to consider when researching the best coworking space to fit your needs. Some things to consider when choosing a location include commute time, nearness to business partners or clients, and the area surrounding the coworking space.
For instance, it may be helpful to have nearby access to places like parks or a coffee shop in case you need that extra caffeine jump in the morning.
Environment is also an important part of the location; some people may find it too stressful to use a coworking space in the heart of a bustling city.
Instead, a more reserved location may work better. Parking options, in availability, distance, and pricing are also important to consider.
Cost is another major factor in choosing the best coworking space for you. Monthly and membership fees can vary depending on the space you choose.
In addition, premium coworking spaces can even offer amenity packages and options that give access to things like massages, fitness spaces, and living accommodations.
It may be out of budget for a freelancer or young business owner to choose to work in a premium living space.
Conversely, it can be limiting for a high-income professional to work in a location lacking amenities and space. Make sure to keep your needs, budget, and priorities in mind while considering your options for a coworking space.
The design, layout and environment of a coworking space are all very important aspects of a good coworking space. After all, the difference between productivity and a slump can come down to the environment you’re in, and whether or not you enjoy your time in it.
Some coworking spaces offer more private areas, like cubicles or private offices. Others prefer to use a more communal setup and opt for a large, shared office space, and may have smaller private areas alongside communal spaces where professionals may work alongside each other.
Seating arrangements can vary widely, as well as atmosphere. Whatever your design, environment, and privacy preferences may be, coworking spaces offer a variety of options.
And somewhere out there is the best one for you.
Finally, keep in mind that when joining a coworking space you’re also joining the community there. One of the biggest benefits of a coworking space is being surrounded by other professionals, whatever their field may be.
And making friends is a great way to keep your spirits up and help you stay motivated when you come to your coworking space for the day.
It’s important to get an idea of the other renters that occupy a coworking space you’re considering. Is it a quiet, reserved group? An extroverted, outgoing group?
What do the other professionals in the coworking space do for a living? Do their professions complement yours? Is networking more likely in one coworking space over another that you’re considering?
Choose to cowork in a space that provides opportunities to connect with like-minded people in complementary fields of work if you can.
Utilizing a coworking space offers many benefits – not the least of which is the ability to separate home and work. They come in a wide variety of styles, amenities, and prices.
Consider using one if you’re looking for ways to network, ways to cut operating costs, or simply want to connect with other business professionals.