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The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Coworking Spaces

Coworking Spaces

The key advantages of coworking spaces revolve around cost saving, flexibility, networking and shared sense of community whereas the disadvantages include the cost, distractions, lack of privacy, professional image and growth limitations.

Advantages of coworking spaces: 

  1. Cheaper rent compared to renting a traditional office space.
  2. Lease flexibility to rent space for short or long periods as needed.
  3. Access to various amenities like meeting rooms, coffee shops, event spaces.
  4. More focused work environment compared to working from home.
  5. Networking opportunities with like-minded people.
  6. Sense of community and opportunity to socialise.
  7. Social events and skill-sharing opportunities.
  8. Flexible working hours, some spaces open 24/7.
  9. Some scalability to increase or decrease space as business grows.

Disadvantages of coworking spaces: 

  1. Membership fees can be expensive, especially in big cities.
  2. Potential distractions from noise or disruptive coworkers.
  3. Lack of privacy for sensitive conversations or phone calls.
  4. May not convey a professional image when meeting clients.
  5. Limited customer service support compared to traditional offices.
  6. Limited scope for significant growth and expansion long-term.

Coworking spaces are popular shared work spaces that are often used by freelancers and startups who enjoy working in a collaborative environment of working in the vicinity of others with the benefits of office facilities without the overheads of renting their own business space.

This type of working environment isn’t for everyone though – some will not enjoy the potential for distraction when working and for others it may not make financial sense at the current point in their business journey.

Read on for further insight into the pros and cons of coworking spaces.

The Pros of Coworking Spaces

Here are some of the main advantages and pro points for coworking spaces.

  1. Cheaper Rent

One of the advantages of coworking spaces is that it saves you money on business premises rent. Starting a personal office can be very expensive, especially in major cities like London. Whether you run a startup business or work as a freelancer, coworking spaces can make having a ‘place to work’ cheaper than renting your own office or business space.

As part of the often heavily reduced fee for using the shared space, you can also enjoy access to more resources and amenities needed to effectively run your business such as printers, landlines, refreshments etc. The money saved on office rental can also be invested in the growth and development of your business.

2. Lease Flexibility

Another benefit of running your business in coworking spaces is the lease flexibility they offer. This refers to the freedom to rent a space for any preferred duration without limitations to whether the lease period is too long or short. It is a very ideal model for startup business owners who are still trying to establish themselves in a new industry.

For such people, coworking spaces allow them to observe how fast they grow and decide if they want to continue or need a bigger space. That is much better than being tied to a long-term lease that prevents you from relocating to a more conducive environment for your business. Most coworking spaces do not even require large deposits when you join.

3. Available Amenities and Facilities

Coworking spaces offer a range of amenities that give you value for the money paid. Many of these work environments have coffee shops, restaurants, and bars on-site. Some collaborative workspaces also have meeting rooms and event halls that are perfect for networking or pitching to clients.

By joining a coworking space you get access to multiple benefits that ease the stress of work while making you more productive. You will get motivated seeing other people pursue their goals compared to working at home alone and having to deal with distractions.

Furthermore, some collaborative workspaces have childcare facilities so you can bring your children along with you. This is an added advantage of coworking spaces for such parents or guardians who want quality time with their kids despite their busy schedules. It is also an excellent way to save on childcare costs.

The provision of important amenities and facilities is what makes most coworking spaces preferable to setting up a personal workspace at a usually more expensive cost. The best of these work environments are those with amenities that attract the best of talents and productive minds.

4. A More Focused Work Environment

For work-from-home professionals, the general advantage is that it provides them the opportunity to create a personal schedule and work at their own pace – but it can be lonely and distractions are plentiful!

These considerations may make shared working spaces preferential, at least for some period of your working week. Scheduling one day a week in a shared space is a great way to meet other like minded professionals, soak up their professionalism, stave off the loneliness that may come with working at home and keep you productive and focused.

5. Networking Opportunities

A standout advantage of coworking spaces is the networking opportunities they offer. If you work from home, there is a high chance that you’re mostly isolated and restricted from meeting many people or have to make a real effort to foster new business connections on very busy days. When working in coworking spaces – you are likely to be surrounded by other professionals with complementary skills/products/services that have the potential to work for each other.

A good piece of advice when choosing a coworking space is to find out the type of professionals and businesses that use that location. You can be fortunate enough to identify a work environment with brilliant minds within your industry.

6. A Sense of Community

Another advantage of coworking spaces is the sense of community they can provide. Having a coordinated community with similar interests and goals is a recipe for success.

A perfect work community can help you feel more connected and inspired to achieve more. They could also provide support and serve as work buddies you can confide in and seek professional advice.

Plenty of people find it tough to engage with others, but a coworking office is a safe way to be around people whilst having enough privacy to get on with your own work, but also have the opportunity to engage when comfortable to do so.

If you presently work at home, consider giving it a try and check for coworking spaces around you. It is even possible to sign up for just one or two days a week and work from home the other days. Mixing working at home and using a coworking space helps you get the best of the two worlds.

7. Social Events

Some coworking spaces are fun particularly when you get to make a few friends there. There could be an arranged social event such as a happy hour gathering or a simple networking programme. It is always a great opportunity to meet people doing great in their various fields and sharing their success stories.

Social events can also be an excellent initiative to relax and unwind after a series of hectic work days or weeks. Moreover, these events are never compulsory but you can join if you want to feel among the bigger community. It is never a bad idea to have a bit of controlled fun before continuing with serious work business.

8. Shared Knowledge and Skills

The advantages of coworking spaces are not complete without mentioning the opportunity to share knowledge and skills. You can even learn new skills with strategic networking. For example, a web developer could connect with a professional affiliate marketer and develop some essential trading skills.

This exchange of knowledge is beneficial for those in search of new business opportunities or individuals transitioning into a new career. Coworking can bridge the knowledge gap and help you understand new skills that could have been challenging to learn.

9. Flexible Hours

If flexible working hours are your reason for preferring working at home, a coworking space provides just that. Some spaces are even open 24/7 and you can choose any convenient time of the day to work while having time for other commitments. It is much better than renting a traditional office that is mostly only open during official business hours.

You can come and go as you please in a coworking space. There are also some collaborative work environments with childcare facilities for those people who have young children. Coworking offers you that flexibility to be productive and have your kids close by.

There is freedom as long as you respect the rights of others because it is a shared space. For instance, you must be considerate of activities that can cause noise during night working hours.

10. Some Scalability

The ability to upscale is the next advantage of coworking spaces. There is room to increase or decrease your space as your business develops. For example, a person who started as an independent freelancer can decide to hire an employee and find a more accommodating space within the same coworking facility.

This flexible scalability is beneficial for growing business owners who require time to observe their industry. It allows them to implement their ideas at a convenient pace without much pressure. There is also no need to sign a new lease each time the business expands since the coworking space has provision for bigger accommodations.

The Cons of Coworking Spaces

When weighing up your options on whether to use coworking spaces, consider these factors that highlight the downside of coworking spaces.

1. Membership Fees

Although most coworking spaces are relatively cheap compared to standard office rental fees, some venues can still be expensive. It usually depends on the location and the facilities available on site, and how much of the venue you want to make use of.

For instance, a resident in one of the big cities might find working from home to be cheaper than paying membership fees to a coworking space. Cost is very important as a startup freelancer or business so remember to ask questions about the benefits you enjoy as a member of that coworking space before signing up – and checking if there are any discounts available can always help to keep business finances on track!

2. Distractions

Another disadvantage of coworking spaces is how distracting they can be sometimes. Since you are sharing space with other people, there is the possibility that some do not completely respect boundaries. Some work colleagues can be noisy or generally disruptive which may hinder your productivity. Saying that, if you have your own office space within the shared community, you can always shut the door to distance yourself from noise.

3. No Privacy

The absence of privacy in some coworking spaces is a big challenge if you are the type that requires an absolutely calm environment to be productive. It can be difficult to make private phone calls or have sensitive conversations with clients in a shared workspace especially in an open plan environment that some coworking spaces offer.

A solution is choosing only coworking environments that offer big enough spaces for everyone to independently work. Some spaces also have meeting rooms available for booking but they might be unavailable sometimes.

4. Unprofessional Image

Working from a coworking space can make it difficult to build a professional image for your business. A few walk-in clients can get the wrong impression of your business when they see other people around.

That is why the decision to join such collaborative workspaces is completely business-dependent. Consider if renting a traditional office space would give you a better professional outlook.

5. Little Customer Service

While most coworking spaces have professional companies managing them, some will have better customer service and problem management than others. If you don’t choose wisely, this could be a problem if you require urgent assistance with your membership or the available facilities.

For instance, having a poor internet connection, which is vital to most businesses. If this is down but it takes a long time to repair, you could lose a day of work, miss meetings or deadlines.

6. Limited Scope for Growth

The flexible scalability plans of coworking spaces usually set a limit to how much business growth they can accommodate. Imagine a small startup with one or two employees deciding to expand and have tens of employees. The available space within that coworking facility would probably be insufficient.

Room for expansion is an important factor to consider when choosing any collaborative workspace. Depending on your expansion plans for the near future, paying for membership in a coworking space might not be the best idea.

Final Thoughts

Working in a collaborative work environment is highly beneficial for startup businesses or freelancers looking for less expensive setup costs but they should balance the potential disadvantages that could be faced too when deciding if this working route is right for their business.

Coworking space is probably good for you if you value flexibility in work schedules and an enabling environment for other professionals. Individuals who love the privacy of their space and do not cope with the slightest disturbance from others might be better off working from home. You can also consider renting a traditional office for a better professional image or bigger expansion plans.

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