Whether you’re a freelancer, a startup or a corporation, coworking has something to offer you. The idea of coworking spaces has been around for a long time (the earliest use of the term dates to the 17th century, though it’s living in a coworking space with respect to God, rather than your colleagues) but it really took off in the late 2000s and early 2010s with the explosive growth of the internet and other communication networks. And why shouldn’t it have? People who have worked from home agree that it can get lonely, unappealing, or filled with distractions. Some of these people also tried to make the same magic happen in a Starbucks, but it proved counterproductive; it was too noisy or busy to keep them from working efficiently. So, after a lot of brainstorming, coffee-hogging and long sessions of discussion, they stumbled on coworking places! Changes in technology and society have led to a massive upswing in these spaces; in 2007 there were 14 in the world, and in 2020 there are estimated to be around 30,000.
From state-of-the-art interiors, luxurious and well-lit workstations, and high-end technological amenities, coworking has everything you need. Throw in passionate individuals (everyone from beginners to CEOs) under the same roof and you’ve got a potent cocktail. However, fewer people actually realize that it’s not the merit of the coworkers that bring them together, but their likemindedness—the wavelength of their brains. According to reports, the number of coworkers could rise up to over one million by 2022 and the reason behind it is the affordability and community of coworking spaces. But is that really what coworking is all about? Is there anything that you need to know before you join a coworking space? Let’s delve deeper into some of the pros and cons of coworking:
1. Pro: Coworking Spaces are More Affordable than Renting vs Con: Coworking Spaces can still be Out of Budget
One of the biggest positive factors of the coworking places is that they are comparatively cheaper than office space. For startups and small firms, coworking spaces are a simple, inexpensive option without compromising on its location (as coworking spaces are generally located in a upscale or well-connected parts of a city) as well as getting rid of all mundane worries of the day including proper connectivity of devices, proper lighting, and other logistics issues that the space owners usually need to take care of.
Looking at it from one side, coworking spaces can be a haven for budding entrepreneurs and freelancers, however there might be more than what appears at the surface. Despite being affordable, coworking spaces can still be a bit harsh on the pocket if you’re just starting out. For example, coworking spaces come with a lump sum monthly fee that includes a lot of charges that are non-negotiable, including electricity bills, internet bills, convenience fees, maintenance fees, etc. In such cases, it’d be advisable to try free workspaces like libraries (actually a great alternative to posh coworking spaces). Once you grow to have enough to pay the monthly internet charges or so, you can easily work in a public workspace.
2. Pro: Sense of Community at Coworking Places vs. Con: Distractful Surroundings
In a coworking space, you will never be lonely. It has a certain sense of community in it that includes interesting conversations, like hearing from industry experts about their startup journeys, passion projects by panels and coworkers, spaces to experiment and learn together. This also includes having pizza parties now and then, weekly happy hours, or even a face-off Jenga rounds. Therefore, the time that you’re working and learning doesn’t feel like you’re working at all, unlike in traditional office spaces.
However, if you’re a person who works best in their own zen, coworking spaces can mean unwanted challenges for you. Events like panel discussions and advising sessions can easily turn into significant distractions. If you want complete solitude, you might need to shell out for full-access and private office membership. That’s not all: due to a boom in co-working culture across the world, coworking places are getting crowded at certain hours in the day, that may force you to settle for a different place than where you generally work. Such distractions and last-minute changes can rob you off from productivity at work if you aren’t used to it.
- Pro: Ample choices, ample improvements vs Con: Significant restrictions
As there has been a rise in the popularity of coworking spaces across the world, there has been a huge surge in coworking spaces, each one different than the others. According to Global Coworking Unconference, more than 24% of people across the world are opting for coworking spaces than the traditional office spaces. Therefore, before you actually sign up, it is important to know your options.
There are several restrictions that come with a shared working space. If you’d like to decorate your workstation (let’s say repaint it, decorate it or bring your favorite desk, chair or bean bag), you may not be able to do that. That’s a minus for working from coworking spaces rather than working from home.
- Pro: Company Culture vs Con: Privacy Issues and Personality Conflicts
A coworking space can be a creatively buzzing environment where you can find numerous opportunities to find inspiration and stay motivated, and if you find it interesting enough, you can create a similar environment as the foundation for your own company culture. Success brings growth, and it’s quite plausible that the coworking space is just a pitstop in your journey. The things that you have learned from working in a coworking space, the importance of autonomous spaces as well as an absence of hierarchical communication, can prove to be useful in establishing your own business.
Finding the right coworking space can seem like a treasure hunt, especially in recent times. Thanks to the growing demand for coworking spaces, there’s a crunch of space privacy and availability at such spaces during certain hours of the day. Sometimes, it’s also about the people present at the coworking spaces with whom you may have a personality clash. Since it’s a coworking space, all issues or inconveniences need to be handled and resolved amongst the coworkers.
- Pro: On-demand Scaling vs Con: Rapidly Growing Organization
For any growing business, it isn’t an easy task to accommodate people into a traditional office setup. In such a situation, coworking spaces are a great boon, where you can get extra space on request. From exceptional design to upgraded amenities, coworking space providers can help you find the most efficient cost-to-space ratio. However, coworking spaces charge extra based on floor space, which might still be more expensive than the usual renting prices and therefore may not be the best fit.
On the other hand, it’s the working hours that seem to pose the problem here. Coworking spaces are much like any other institution that function during a certain period of the day; few are open 24/7 and this automatically limits the working hours of individuals and startups that function entire on flexibility and varying time zones across the world.
There are certain traits that can be distinct to coworking places, and some perks to working from home. If your line of work includes maintaining some sort of secrecy in protecting sensitive information, then having a thorough roundup of the coworking space to know if it’s the right kind would be the best thing to do. If you’re on the fence, a lot of spaces have free trial periods for you to see whether they’re the right fit.
If you’re in the Kolkata area and are looking for the right coworking space, you may want to consider Zioks (the leading coworking space provider in Kolkata), opening very soon. It’s the perfect coworking space for tech entrepreneurs and businesses looking to seat extra employees alike.