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The Pros and Cons of Co-Working

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jun 03, 2022

Considering investing in a co-working space? Here are some of the pros and cons to consider.

Co-working spaces provide productive environments for professionals to tackle their workday in the company of other career-driven individuals who don’t necessarily work for the same organization. Especially for remote businesses that don’t have their own office space, co-working is a great option to encourage employees to get out of the house and into a more inspiring atmosphere. Are you considering using a co-working space for your business? Here’s what you should know.

What is co-working? 

Co-working is when people work in the same neutral space on independent projects or in smaller groups on the same projects. These people generally work for different companies, which is one way a co-working space differs from a regular office workspace. Co-working offices are often used by freelancers, startups, small businesses and nonprofits, which can save bundles of money by avoiding pricey, long-term building leases while still experiencing a sense of community. Co-working locations can range from providing basic amenities to members, such as desks and Wi-Fi, to offering more high-tech resources, such as 3D printers. 

There are four main types of co-working setups: open workspaces, private workspaces, industry-specific workspaces and venture/incubators. Each environment offers a different kind of atmosphere and community. For example, private workspaces typically assign desks to members and invite them to share common spaces, like lounges and eating areas, while open workspaces are just the opposite. In the latter case, workers can usually sit wherever they want. 

FYIFYI: Some of the pros and cons of co-working are similar to those of permanently working from home. Your business could mix both options to find the ideal solution for your workforce. Whichever you choose, these tips for building a successful remote company will come in handy.

What are the pros of co-working?

Are you interested in investing in a co-working space for your business? Here are some of the benefits.

Sense of community 

Working in a shared location with other entrepreneurs can provide a sense of community. Although members may not be working together on projects or even for the same company, co-working spaces often attract people with similar interests or jobs. These individuals can therefore serve as a built-in network for one another. You have the opportunity to form bonds and working relationships with other professionals that can serve you and your business as you grow, and you have access to a wider network for collaboration, mentorship and support.

Increased productivity 

Working for a small business or as an entrepreneur often means working from home, which can be productive for some people but difficult for others. Roommates, chores and other distractions can hinder your focus when you’re working in the same space in which you live. In contrast, co-working spaces offer different settings with fewer distractions and typically include amenities that one might not have access to at home. Additionally, working alongside a community of similarly ambitious professionals can serve as motivation to get work done efficiently and productively. 

Networking and collaboration opportunities

There are endless opportunities for those working in co-working spaces to network and collaborate with other like-minded individuals. Since co-working offices are filled with people with similar drives and passions, many workers will bounce ideas off of one another. Co-working providers also often hold networking events and workshops that can help businesses and organizations make personal connections and learn from one another.

Inspiration and creativity boosts

Another downside of working from home is a lack of inspiration, motivation and creativity. Staying in the same location throughout the entire week, especially when it’s also where you sleep and live, can create mundane routines and even affect your mental health. Co-working spaces help you get out of the house and surround yourself with new and friendly faces. These individuals might even help get your creative juices flowing, as they can provide you with unique insight and perspective.

Greater flexibility

Co-working offices allow people the flexibility to create their own schedules and hours based on what best fits their daily needs. You can come and go as you please. In addition to offering flexible work schedules, co-working spaces are also often lenient with their agreements. If you eventually decide that a co-working setup isn’t for you, you can likely cancel your membership without penalty.

Cost-effective workspace

Co-working spaces can be cost-effective for small businesses and startups, as they often do not require a long-term lease. This allows companies to continue growing and expanding without the added pressure of additional workspace expenses. Businesses can then use the money they would have earmarked for a traditional office space to further invest in their company. 

Bottom LineBottom Line: There are several benefits of co-working spaces, including a shared sense of community among members and the ability to network with like-minded individuals who don’t necessarily work at the same business as you.

What are the cons of co-working?

While there are obvious advantages of co-working, consider these disadvantages before deciding whether it’s the right option for your business.

Too much noise for calls 

One of the downsides of co-working spaces is that furniture isn’t the only thing shared – sound is too. Typically, there will be people having conversations and making phone calls nearby, which can become a distraction. Private offices are sometimes available at an extra cost but are not always guaranteed due to limited space. Some people might thrive off this kind of noise, while others might find it exhausting and depleting. 

Distractions

Besides noise distractions, there can also be distractions from social encounters. While a socially oriented work environment provides a strong sense of community, it can also cause several interruptions throughout the workday. This can be especially problematic for those who are naturally more social or easily sidetracked even while trying to complete important tasks.

Lack of privacy

If you’re worried about a lack of privacy, a co-working environment may not be the right fit for you. As mentioned earlier, private offices can be hard to come by and cost extra money in the long run. That means you will likely be working in the same shared space as other individuals and in close proximity to one another, which can make it difficult to have private phone calls or discussions with clients. This could be a deal-breaker for those who regularly deal with sensitive and confidential information.

Limited capacity

Remember your college days? The library probably had that one table beside the window with a perfect view; you were lucky if you were able to snag it for some study time. Similarly, co-working spaces often provide excellent amenities, but you might not be able to get your favorite conference table for your next meeting. To ensure prime areas are available, you may need to adjust your work schedule or use the facility only during less busy hours. [Related article: Best Places to Hold Meetings Without an Office]

IT issues

While a co-working provider wants to keep its clients happy, it may not provide the internet speeds you desire or other technology essential to doing your work. It is also unlikely there will be an in-house IT expert to troubleshoot problems. If the internet goes down, a printer breaks or some other issue arises, you’ll likely be at the mercy of the space’s administrators or forced to find a temporary alternative workplace.

Pros of co-workingCons of co-working
Sense of communityToo much noise for calls
Increased productivityMany distractions
Networking and collaborationLack of privacy
Inspiration and creativity boostsLimited capacity
Greater flexibilityIT issues
Cost-effective workspace 

How has COVID-19 affected co-working and the current workplace environment?

The COVID-19 pandemic has redefined the workplace, as many people have been forced to work from home for the last two-plus years. However, corporate co-working has resumed its pre-pandemic upward trend in popularity and is expected to exceed a value of $13.03 billion by 2025, according to Research and Markets. In a world still grappling with a return to normal, co-working offers businesses a workplace solution that decentralizes their offices, grants flexibility to employees who prefer remote work amid the pandemic, and comes with shorter leases and less financial burden during these uncertain times. 

Did you know?Did you know? In response to the co-working model’s ability to cater to the new needs of the corporate world, many landlords have seized the opportunity to profit, entering the arena as co-working operators. With this added competition in the market, there will likely be many new developments in the co-working world over the next few years.

As many workers have adjusted to lifestyles that no longer require a commute to an office, companies have revamped their office structures to accommodate this. Hybrid models, in which employees come to the office only on certain days of the week, cater to the changing needs of today’s workers. A survey conducted by Prudential shows that nearly 87% of American workers would prefer to work remotely at least one day a week. Employees cycling through days in and out of the office may be more reason not to commit to a private office building for your business.

Image Credit:

scyther5 / Getty Images

Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.