Coworking Spaces offer the benefits of working from home or a cafe while also offering the benefits of traditional office spaces.
If you’ve never worked in a coworking space before, you might find yourself wondering if the whole coworking thing is right for you. Chances are, you probably already have a home office of some kind (the cleanest corner of your kitchen table counts in this case), and you’ve probably become an all too familiar face at your local coffee shop. You might be surprised to find out that all the ‘pros’ of a home office and all the ‘pros’ of your neighborhood cafe can exist together in a coworking space! We’ve listed out a few of the pros and cons of each common work spot, along with some surprising findings from workplace studies.
Working From Home
The obvious ‘pro’ of working from home is that you have full control over your day, your meals, your office space, your coworkers (or lack thereof), etc. You can set your own routine and if you’re lucky, structure your own day. Many freelancers find that they tend to eat healthier, homemade meals and cut back on lunch expenses. For parents, this can mean spending more time with your family. Pair those benefits with the lack of a commute and reliable internet and you’ve got a great list of reasons to regularly work from home.
Aside from the obvious benefits of working from home, there are plenty of drawbacks. Lack of focus and closeness of distractions makes working from home an easy path to wasting an entire day. Many freelancers and corporate employees who work full time from their home say they feel more compelled to take care of household chores and run errands during working hours. Unless you have lots of self-discipline and a strong working routine in place, chances are you might have a hard time drawing the lines between working hours and home life – eating away at the fabled Work Life Balance we always hear of. While many employees report higher productivity when working from home, the lack of focus and discipline coupled with an unstructured day and the neverending laundry story can cause you to not work at your best.
A surprising pro of the classic cafe scene is the background noise. Many studies have found that some background noise, or “white noise” can be beneficial to productivity and focus. In fact, there are even apps out there that replay back the ambient noise of a cafe in the name of productivity (check it out here). Additionally, the change of scenery from the home office can break up the monotony of an at-home routine. Even the act of getting ready in the morning and lacing up those shoes triggers your brain’s “work mode” moreso than it does from your kitchen table. Lastly, the cafe scene can help replace some of the “social” feel that many full-time freelancers and telecommuters miss.
The cons of a cafe as your workspace include basically all the cons of working from home with all the cons of working in an office – you tend to still spend the same amount of money on food and espresso, but still lack the structure and routine that comes with going into an office every day. Chances are you’ll likely still need to do some sort of commuting, and it’s not exactly common practice to walk up to other cafe-goers and strike up a meaningful conversation.
In addition to lack of focus and added distractions, local cafes often have small, cramped, or otherwise uncomfortable seating, which can cause back strain and muscle discomfort. Let’s not forget the added frustrations of maddeningly slow internet from all the other cafe-lancers trying to connect to the same network. While your local cafe is great when you need to get out of the house or when you’d like some background noise, there are many cons that can cause your output to be less than stellar.
Whether or not you like to admit it, there are countless benefits to working in a traditional office setting, many of which are taken for granted. Most digital nomads and telecommuters say that they often miss the social aspects of sharing a workspace with coworkers and the creativity and conversation that is stimulated therein. Office dwellers (usually) have a definite starting point and ending point to their workday, which can help set habitual routines and protect work-life balance. Surrounding yourself with managers and teammates also means that the task at hand will always be at the forefront of your mind, keeping you and your projects on track. Many offices hold happy hours, lunches, and holiday parties and give out freebies that really make you feel like you have an identity and are a part of a team.
While we as workers often like to grumble about the frustrations of the standard office setting, it’s undeniable that there are plenty of benefits to being present and focused in a traditional office workplace.
The cons of traditional offices are ones we’ve heard before in one way or another. Lack of freedom, long hours away from home, and high stress demands coupled with long commutes, frustrating transit systems, and the high cost of daily meals all take a heavy toll on both the mind and the body. Working from the same place day in and day out with little to no changes to routine or scenery can make you feel resentful towards your job. Unproductive meetings and office politics can eat away at the most productive hours of the day. Long commutes, lack of stimulation and creativity, and a mundane environment all spell trouble for those less inclined to follow tradition.
Coworking Spaces – The Space Between
The goal of collaborative coworking spaces is to capture the flexibility and comfort of a home office with the creative vibe of a cafe – all while emphasizing collaboration, networking, and community building. Working in a shared space with like-minded entrepreneurs and other professionals can be a catalyst to sparking up creative, meaningful conversions. Although you’ll likely need to find the “coworking style” that best fits how you work, coworking spaces are at the center of the what it means to be productive, collaborative, and community focused – all while holding onto the flexibility and added work-life balance that comes with telecommuting.
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