Whether you are a freelancer or an independent entrepreneur, you might find yourself in need of affordable yet professional workspace to call your own. Coworking is the latest trend to hit the startup scene in a way very few others have managed. According to recent research, coworking spaces will be populated by freelancers and part-time workers up to 40% by the year 2020, with more than one million individuals operating in these spaces in the US alone. Similarly, property owners and building managers are more and more comfortable with allocating office space ranging from 15 to 30% towards hosting a coworking environment.
What coworking represents is a public office space dedicated to individual work and occasional collaboration and networking. It allows people to finally work as freelancers in a way that mimics daily work routine commonly found in the corporate industry without the strings attached. But how does it really impact everyday workflow and the culture of work ethics as a whole?
- Pro: Constant Networking Opportunities
The most obvious benefit we can attribute to coworking spaces is the fact that you can constantly network with other freelancers and “coworkers”. You can ask for professional help with your development or project, or even develop friendships during breaks and lunch hours. This type of networking is fairly difficult to pull off if you opt for independent freelancing from the comfort of your home, no matter how alluring the idea might be.
- Con: Lack of Complete Privacy
A huge minus for coworking spaces comes in the general lack of genuine privacy. Coworking spaces are usually retrofitted from larger complexes and warehouses with large expansive rooms which are then segmented and furbished into office environments.
While this adds a lot of square feet to the property, thus allowing for more coworkers to operate there, it also bears the uncomfortable stigma of 24/7 public workspace. You will be hard pressed to find a quiet, isolated corner of the office space to call your own if you’re not prepared to pay premium for a more private office.
- Pro: Affordable Office Space
Speaking of premium, coworking environments are highly affordable to the general public. You will typically only pay for your desk and/or any snacks and beverages you consume while on the property. This makes coworking a great choice for beginner freelancers, individual entrepreneurs and students who want to focus on their work.
Marie Fincher, content management specialist at Trust My Paper spoke highly of the prospect: “I started my digital marketing career in a local coworking hub. The low price point coupled with the ability to talk to others in your field and better your skill set each day is something I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to start building their career the right way.”
- Con: Easy to Get Distracted
While coworking spaces offer a lot of space (pun intended) for work and development, they also provide workers with a plethora of distractions to keep them occupied. This is not done for the sake of distraction, but to allow individuals to take a breather between long work hours and sitting in one spot.
In that regard, you will often find game rooms, bars, lounges, lazy bags and other convenient items and rooms around the coworking hub. These spaces do provide an incentive to network further with your peers and establish professional and personal contacts for later use. However, they can also severely hamper your productivity, resulting in less output and work motivation than you’d expect.
- Pro: No Administrative Paperwork
Given the centralized administrative nature of coworking hubs, individuals rarely need to worry about paperwork beyond their contractual obligations. The staff of each coworking space will always be in charge of filing paperwork necessary for the freelancer or entrepreneur to operate on their premises.
However, you might have to handle bookkeeping and taxes yourself depending on how well-established the coworking hub is in your local area. This fact alone is enough for inexperienced freelancers and young individuals to consider working in a hub while they get their professional feet wet. It alleviates a lot of unnecessary headache and allows workers to focus on their projects instead of distracting paperwork.
- Con: Organizing Work Hours
Even though the coworking hub might have its open hours and closed days, you will still be in charge of your own time management. This can prove to be troublesome for individuals who lack personal discipline or simply don’t like to work in strict work intervals. Subsequently, a lack of constant work may result in a dip in your performance, income and overall morale in terms of working in a coworking hub, to begin with.
Make sure to arm yourself with a notebook, a time management app and a friend who will constantly nag you about work at least for the first several weeks. Once you go into a routine of waking up in the morning and going to the hub eager to get started on your projects, you will be good to go.
- Pro: Numerous Seminars & Events
In order to keep up with the latest trends, technology and professional development of their clients, coworking hubs often organize seminars and events in their premises. These are based on on-demand skills, latest breakthroughs in industries which relate to the work freelancers work on in the hubs, as well as public how-to seminars.
No matter how developed your professional resume and skill set may be, you will always find something new to look forward to in a coworking hub. These events also take place predominantly during the weekend or at late hours meaning that you will be able to attend them no matter what kind of a schedule you maintain.
- Con: Hard to Expand Afterward
Lastly, the bane of working in a coworking hub is that you often feel content, safe and isolated from the outside corporate world. Coworking freelancers usually find themselves in problematic situations when it comes to finding stable work in a company, starting their own business or simply leaving the coworking space altogether.
While the staff will never hold your hand in terms of work and client relations, they will always point you in the right direction when it comes to the logistics of working as an individual. The lounge will never be too far away and the bar with fresh coffee and snacks will be available to you no matter how long (or short) ago you took your last break. Make sure to take this into consideration if you plan on using coworking spaces as a jumping-off point for greater things down the line – don’t rest on your laurels just because everything is great at this very moment.
Coworking spaces are undoubtedly a breakthrough in terms of allowing individuals to build their careers from scratch. They can easily be used by both professional individuals and ambitious students who want to start learning from the early days of their graduation.
However, it’s important to take both sides of the equation into consideration when deciding whether or not coworking is for you. The best way to find out is to visit your local hub and talk to the staff and several constant members of the community about anything you might be worried about. Once that’s out of the way, you can take the space for a spin and spend several days there before making the final decision about whether or not hubs are the right place for you.