By Leslie Youngblood
Coworking spaces have exploded over the past few years. If you're not super familiar with the concept, it's essentially a "business services provision model that involves individuals working independently or collaboratively in a shared office space."
People who choose to cowork are generally Gen Z and millennial-aged freelancers, small business owners, and telecommuters. The space appeals to these audiences the most because it allows them to escape the traditional isolation of a home office or local coffee shop.
While you can surely find a variety of locally-owned coworking spaces in your community, WeWork is the largest, and most well-known coworking enterprise to date. Founded in 2010 in New York City, WeWork has now expanded to over 5,000 employees and 562 locations worldwide. They're known for their super modern, mural-adorned spaces, snack bar, and dog-friendly policies.
With such exponential growth, WeWork has cemented itself as a cultural behemoth on multiple levels, even snagging some tongue-in-cheek ribbing via a lookalike company in a season five episode of Comedy Central's Broad City.
But really, what do WeWork and other smaller coworking spaces really offer? If you're a freelancer or small business owner looking for space, is coworking really the way to go?
I've rounded up the top three pros and cons just to help you figure that out.
PRO 1: A Professional And Modern Space
Along with hi-speed WiFi and other tech amenities, coworking spaces generally boast a very sophisticated interior design aesthetic—You definitely won't see any clunky wooden chairs or dinosaur printers anywhere.
Coworking spaces offer you a sort of "office of your dreams" design without the price tag of doing it yourself. Plus, the nice surroundings are a big perk when it comes time to pitching new clients or hosting customer meetings. The sophisticated surroundings are impressive and reflect well upon your brand.
PRO 2: Goodbye Loneliness
Being an entrepreneur is an inherently lonely job. Operating out of a coworking space alleviates some of that isolation. With other like-minded doers and creatives working around you, you'll always have a nice outlet for friendly chatting, networking, and even collaboration.
That close proximity to other motivated movers and shakers can also encourage your own personal ambitions too, and you may find yourself feeling extra driven and inspired.
Many coworking spaces host networking and other events as well, which can provide additional inspiration boosts.
PRO 3: Flexibility And Efficiency
Each space has its unique set of working options at a variety of price points. For example, WeWork offers a choice between a Private Desk, Dedicated Desk and Hot Desk as a jumping off point and allows you to select add-ons.
Within the main rental space there's most likely larger conference and event rooms you can also rent out for an additional fee.
And don't worry about being locked into one particular desk or space for the long-term. Most spaces allow you to upgrade as your team expands and/or contracts. This unique flexibility is super budget-friendly and alleviates the stress of having to constantly move around and adjust team space.
So those are the top three awesome aspects to a coworking space. It all sounds lovely, right? Well make sure you don't ignore some of the negatives that go along with them before jumping in.
CON 1: A Little Pricey
While coworking spaces provide great flexibility and are generally less than a traditional lease, they can still get a bit expensive with additional add-ons or if you don't utilize the space as fully as possible.
If you find yourself still working from a home office or favorite coffee shop when you signed up for a space, you're wasting money. You will really need to commit to working out of it to get your money's worth.
CON 2: Distractions Abound
Sure, being around fellow owners and freelancers is nice, but it can also be extremely distracting. If you select or are placed at a desk in an open space surrounded by others you may begin to find their phone calls or daily chats super annoying.
And then if there's a special event happening at the same time you're trying to get some work done, it might be extremely disturbing to your task at hand, or you may even be extra inclined to forgo what you're doing to join.
CON 3: Limited Work Hours
Make sure to verify the operating hours of any coworking space you're interested in before signing on the dotted line. Many are only open during traditional business hours, from 9am-5pm, which isn't conducive if you're a night owl who prefers to work late into the evening.
And that wraps up the biggest pros and cons to coworking spaces. While the idea of a long-term lease may seem daunting for many entrepreneurs, you still should arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before committing to a coworking space instead.
Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate America, the fun, smart service for small businesses. Tell Leslie about what you think of coworking spaces by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.