Whether you were part of the massive shift to remote work in 2020, or you've been pursuing that work-from-anywhere dream for a while now, you've finally made it in the door. As long as you've got your laptop and a rock-solid Wi-Fi connection, you're golden. But now you're thinking it might be time to level up. Maybe you miss the hustle and bustle of a traditional office. Or maybe staring at the same four walls of your home office space has you feeling uninspired.
Whatever your reasons, it's likely that at some point over the last couple years, you've considered the benefits of joining a Co-working space. You're certainly not alone. Co-working spaces have shot up in nearly every city in the U.S. and in many locations abroad, growing 1,000 percent since they first came on the scene.
Pros and Cons of Co-working Spaces
Pro: Dedicated Work Area
If your home office setup is less-than-ideal or you're frequently on the road, having access to space that's exclusively meant for work can be a productivity booster. Libraries and coffee shops are free and are preferred for some remote workers, but there are plenty of distractions and limitations that can kill your workflow and inhibit creative thinking. Knowing that you always have a place you can buckle down and get in the zone with others who are doing the same can help you stay focused and accomplish more.
Con: Limited Customization and Access
With shared workspaces, you get what you get. Aside from coming in early to snag a table by the window, there isn't much you customize about your space. Even if you pay for a private space, it's likely used by other workers at different times, so you won't be able to bring in your own furniture or put artwork on the walls. And while most Co-working spaces have top-notch security, you still won't want to leave any of your belongings behind.
Pro: Impressive and Modern Design
Today's Co-working spaces are cleanly designed and visually appealing. Conference rooms have all the bells and whistles and are a sure way to wow your clients. If you own your own business, it can increase your credibility and put clients at ease, knowing they're in the hands of a professional. It can also be inspiring and motivating to work in a modern and attractive space, especially when you've been scrambling to add new Zoom backgrounds to hide the pile of laundry on your bed for the last 18 months.
Con: Space Is at a Premium
If your membership is for a shared working space, you might find there's a competition to get the best spots — the ones with the best view, the right background, the most privacy, or the closest access to the kitchen. Most Co-working spaces offer small areas for one-on-one meetings or phone calls, but those can get tied up quickly. If you're concerned about privacy, a shared workspace is likely not the right place for you.
Pro: Socialization with Like-Minded Professionals
It's what many remote workers miss the most about the golden era of the traditional office: chit-chat around the coffee maker, lunches with coworkers, and the constant and often comforting drone of people at work. You'll get all that in a Co-working space. It's been shown that working quietly alongside someone else can increase productivity, so if the idea of keyboards clicking and conversations happening around you is soothing, a Co-working space is a great choice.
Con: Distractions Abound
Just like in a regular office, it's sometimes difficult to maintain focus. Most Co-working spaces have a set of rules that all workers agree to, but there will always be the loud talkers, the eat-at-their-desk-errs, and the casual YouTube watchers. If you're expecting absolute silence, you might want to try your local library instead.
Pro: Use It When and How You Want
While the first iterations of Co-working spaces generally kept to a standard 9-5 open schedule, newer organizations are recognizing that today's remote worker doesn't always have a "day job" — they may have an evening job, a really early morning job, or a work-whenever-they-can job. Most Co-working spaces today are expanding their hours, with some even moving to 24/7 access. Plus, flexible membership packages allow you to add upgrades — like private spaces and conference rooms — when you need them.
Con: No Guarantees
As mentioned above, shared work spaces offer no guarantees that you'll get the spot you want. At peak hours, it might be difficult to find parking or even a workspace. And booking conference rooms or private meeting areas can be challenging, especially if you have a basic membership.
All-in-all, Co-working spaces offer numerous benefits to remote workers, but they aren't right for everyone. If you miss the traditional office and you're flexible enough to work from a space that isn't "yours," Co-working might be a good fit. So, where can you find the best Co-working spaces close to home or anywhere you happen to be?