Over the next four years, you’ll see the rise of the independent worker. Experts say that by 2020, more than 40% of working Americans will be freelancers, contractors or temporary employees. While a lot of those independent workers will be on assignment at offices (three months here, one month there), many will also be working remotely.
These days, though, “working remotely” doesn’t necessarily mean sitting at home in your pajamas with your laptop. Some freelancers and contractors are turning to coworking spaces to have an office away from the office.
So, could a coworking space be right for you? Here, a few factors to keep in mind.
The Motivation Factor
Being too relaxed at home has the potential to decrease your motivation to complete work. It’s so much easier to stay in bed all day and pretend to work instead of actually working. And there’s little to no accountability since you’re the only one around. It’s helpful for independent workers to still be around other people to help the stay on track.
But you want to be around the right people. Sure, your local library and coffee house are options but there can be problems there as well. Not everyone in the cafe is there to work, let alone to do the same kind of work as you. Just because you can set up shop wherever there’s wifi, doesn’t mean that location makes a valuable workplace. A coworking space can alleviate that issue.
WeWork is a co-working real estate startup that caters to independent workers. Members are able to utilize not only the workspace but also conference rooms, an online member network, benefits and discounts, as well as weekly events. Spaces are equipped with amenities like coffee makers and water fountains, lounges, printing services and some even spaces have outdoor patios. Each space also has unique interior design that makes the space inviting and enjoyable. The weekly events include office hours with industry professionals, educational workshop and some parties!
The Productivity Factor
Proximity can greatly affect work outcomes. Harvard recently did a study in which they examined 35,000 academic papers and found correlation between the most cited papers and the close distances between authors led to more impactful publications. This further backs that face-to-face communication was more impactful than no interaction. Additionally, a Deskmag survey found that 71% of people surveyed were more creative, 62% reported that their measure of work improved significantly, and 90% said they felt more confident when coworking. Being able to chose where you work and who you work with can reduce commute time and minimize office politics which is why this survey may have yielded these results.
Another advantage of working in a coworking space is having a sense of community and being able to interact with this community. Say you’re working on a project, but you are not sure what else to add to it. It’s deep into the seventh hour of working on it and all the words are starting to blur together. At a coffee shop, it is difficult to find a likeminded individual to look over the project. Sure, you could ask the barista or the couple on their first date at the table next to you, but they probably will not have the knowledge needed to complete the task. Here is an example of when a coworking space would be beneficial. Depending on the coworking space, there could be other professionals in the same field just a few desks over, allowing the desired interaction and peer evaluation which could help finish the project you have been working on all day.
The Niche Factor
WeWork has open spaces that individuals, or small groups, are able to rent and use as their work space. Each co-working space is different than the next. There are co-working spaces for designated niche markets with specific accommodations with them, while some are very simple having only a few desks and maybe a desktop computer. WeWork.com is one service that is able to help locate a local coworking space.
An example of a niche coworking space is Paragraph in New York. Paragraph is a designated workspace for writers. They are open 24/7 and have all the amenities a writer could need. They have 38 desks, which have sight lines blocked, a kitchen and cafe and a lounge to collaborate with others using the space. Members also have access to free printing and WiFi. They also connect with members through monthly roundtable discussions with literary agents and editors as well as a Facebook community board. They have full memberships, part-time memberships and day passes for purchase.
The Cost Factor
Most coworking spaces charge rent by the month, ranging from $40 to $500. This allows users to come and go as freely as they need. Some spaces even allow daily or hourly rates to users which provides even more flexibility.
Flexibility is one of the reasons that coworking spaces are great for startup businesses. When a startup begins, they usually do not have the funds, or the workforce, for a huge workspace. They need a place that allows the few new employees to meet and collaborate on ideas. A coworking space is the ideal space for them. Additionally, when the startup grows, they are able to easily move to their own space.
The After-Hours Factor
Coworking spaces are also hubs for non-working events. Community in coworking spaces are more than just 9-5. Many coworking spaces host monthly parties to get to know the other people in the space. Another added benefit is networking. Coworking spaces allow the possibility to foster potential customers, partners or investors. Because everyone in the space is working in different industries, there is opportunity to partner with or work for someone that is a few desks away. An example of this can be seen a Propeller coworking space. Here two clients came together to develop an app. They entered the app in the Super Bowl’s CodeMakrs Super challenge and won the competition. This app is still in use by the City of New Orleans.
Coworking spaces are trying to be more than just work spaces. WeWork has embarked on their newest endeavor, WeLive, a living environment for people who use their co-working space. Recently, WeLive has opened their doors in New York and in Washington D.C. in the same building that they have co-working space. The affordable price and month to month rent contract allows for flexibility. Since the living environment is located in the same building, that saves time and money on the commute to and from the co-working space.
The Drawback Factor
Although there are many advantages to co-working space there are also some flaws. When working in any office, or anywhere, there is always going to be distractions. There will be many people working on completely different projects, all in the same space. Since it is a shared space, there may be times that the building is not available for use. This is all determined by the owners of the space. If the coworking space is first come first serve, the desk you have been sitting at all week could be taken by the time you get to work and there is not much you can do about it.
With the case of working in a coworking space, it’s up to you to decide if the space is right for you. The answer might be yes, if you’re an independent contractor who’s looking for a sense of community and a not-so-independent work experience, or a freelancer who loves creating your own hours but still craves a designated place to work. Either way, do your research and know your options. Call a few coworking spaces near you and book a tour. The best way to know if a place is a good fit is to experience it for yourself.