Coworking Space: Benefits, Cons, Design and Ideas

As an introvert, I love coworking spaces. It’s a heaven for my eternal inner murmur for tranquility and getting mesmerized with the details of certain strands of the universe. As a freelancer in Upwork since 2010, I have worked from home but need to be in a coworking space a lot. I meet my Sun Life Insurance and Real Estate clients in coworking spaces whenever I have appointments.

What is a coworking space?

It’s basically a shared space or office where you rent for a specific period of time to avail of their facilities such as fast internet, coffee, table or couch, network of people and others.

PROs, Benefits, POSITIVE IDEAS OF Coworking Spaces

Working at home has great benefits too. But in my experience, there will always come a time you would demand for the haven provided by coworking spaces.

For me here are the top benefits or positive design which can be incorporated for coworking spaces:

  1. Change of Environment – working from home can become challenging especially when boredom or family/ housemate burdens strike.  Coworking Spaces may provide a setting where you can accomplish work.
  2. Focus – coworking spaces provide the absence of accessible distractions such as your bed, your dog, TV, siblings, children or cats that jump on your lap. I usually go when I need to write something, or in a great desire to finish a certain blog, business proposal or project.
  3. Faster Internet –  faster internet than what coffee shops or your mobile 4G internet can provide. It’s the edge that should set coworking spaces apart.
  4. More conducive atmosphere– I used to work at coffee shops, but working for a prolonged period of time causes me to be conscious of somehow ‘overstaying’ or having too much to worry about leaving things when I go to the toilet because my laptop or things may be stolen and the mall is so wide to search for that laptop (Philippine setting).
  5. Not ‘O.P.’ (out of place) from the purpose– A coffee shop is built primarily for coffee. I heard of a networking group that had been banned of meeting in a coffee shop as a group without most of them ordering from the cafe. A Coworking is built for the purpose, and you won’t feel being ‘out of purpose.’ A coworking space is verbally and non-verbally saying ‘welcome’ to those who want to work in a flexible manner as possible.
  6. Unlimited Water, Coffee and/or Juice – ready-to-drink brewed coffee. If you drink much coffee, a coworking space will cause you even to save more compared to ordering many cups in a hip cafe because it’s usually unlimited, at self-service. The space may spruce it up by offering french press, a brewing or an espresso machine. 
  7. Communal Area – ever since humanity existed, there has always been a spot where the community gathers with or without agenda where everyone can relax, engage in fun conversations, socialize or just change activity. All spaces that I’ve been to has this which translates in the likes of a long bench, a group of bean bags, an array of swings, a flock of high chairs and a high table or a japanese-squatting area.
  8. Extra Features or Services – many coworking spaces are intuitive and creative enough to have thought in advance of the services needed by coworkers. These services may or may not be offered by coworking spaces:
    • Printing – can print documents by sending it to a staff’s email or print it directly over a shared tether network. Easier for coworkers who deal with paper documents, making thesis writing or any printing . purpose.
    • Parking – an attraction especially if there’s a safe space to park, giving the coworker peace of mind. I observed that coworking spaces that rent in a shared building can avail of the general security guarding services to the whole building. 
    • Mailbox / Deskperson Receiver – this is a new feature where members can use the coworking space’s physical address to receive parcels or shipments. With the advent of online stores and e-commerce, this will be a growing trend. This is advantageous since there is a staff who’s always present at the space, while the coworker may not have someone who is always at home to receive shipments.
    • Locker – when a coworker goes to the toilet, or has something to buy or meet outside, there’s a threat when a renter leaves valuable things such as laptops or mobile. The coworking space owner may address this threat by having CCTV cameras or a vigilant staff and an obstruction-less partition between the counter and the work room. Or at most, providing personalized locker where members or renters can leave their things and bring their key. Members may have their own padlocks or the space can provide for their own. This works somehow as a P.O. box of the late 90’s backwards- if you don’t want to divulge your personal / permanent address and thus jeopardize your safety, it’s better to rent a mailbox or address at a coworking space. 
    • Conference Room – a conference room maybe good for 15 to 30 people where groups can converge and have meetings, presentations, video shooting, pitch, fellowship or practice. Facilities that are helpful include: a project, a wall-mounted TV, P.A. system or not (to avoid much noise), white board and pen, VGA / HDMI cords.
    • Pantry – where food needs are addressed. This could contain plates, water dispenser, glasses, sink, soap, utensils, closet for goods and utensils. It’s a good addition to have a mini fridge, labeled mugs, microwave and oven.
    • Food Delivery / Food-ordering service – freelancers or coworkers may be in the middle of a rush and would not want to spend time looking for food. A staff ordering food for them would come on handy.
    • Social Events – coworking spaces may throw a party for each to know one another. This could be correlated to a calendar holiday or just simply a regular event to be look forwarded to.
    • Food store – to have or be near food sources such as a snack bar, a food hub or a simple food store would be a great help. Foods addressing hunger quickly such as Snickers, cup noodles, biscuits, sandwiches, drinks in can are good to have in the store.
    • Souvenir Store – coworkers may usually come as visitors in a certain city looking for a temporary hub to work their tasks. It’s good to have stuffs to offer like souvenir shirts, stuffs unique to a city or town and getting-to-know materials such as maps and brochures.
    • Creative Crafts / Green Store – many coworkers are millenials and generation Z’ers which are becoming more conscious of the environment and earth stewardship. Stuffs like eco-friendly bags, bring-your-own mugs juice, recycled crafts would add value to the space and give more reasons for people to come and help the environment or a particular indigenous people.
    • Community Bulletin – where members, coworkers, job-givers, food-servicers can post relevant posters.
    • Art Galore – working can be redundant, but having a refreshing and deeply meaningful art can give people inside something to regurgitate during ‘space’ time. 
    • Inspirational Corner – a wall that may have a painting of Steve Jobs, an infographic about coworking ethics or benefits, a painting of funny comical figures. 
    • Cleaning Service – a special service for other members who need regular cleaning if they have rented a fixed space for a period of time.
    • A telephone – still needed especially when people need to call a business or would need immediate attention where only a telephone is available. This also ensures that the space can be contacted any time it is open, versus mobile phone alone.
    • A calling room – it’s distracting when people receive or give calls, so a sound-proofed or audibly-modulated rooms is an added value.
    • Generator – people flock to malls or coworking spaces when there’s a community power outage.
    • Access Card – for fixed renters, it’s faster and easier to go in and out. Plus, gives more sense of security.

Evolution of Coworking Spaces

Jeff Bezos said that the dangerous thing is not to evolve. The coworking industry is the forefront of digital revolution as it primarily deals with technology workers. Here’s some current and pro’lly future designs of coworking spaces. 

  1. Coliving Spaces- works like an apartment, but this one focuses more on the needs of technology workers such as fast internet, networking and matching rates. There’s an example of this in my towne: Dojo 8 Coliving- one of the first idea adopter.
  2. Environmentalism- a coworking space that has a major emphasis on caring for the environment and/or running a certain cause for nature. An example for this in my town is the Wala Usik.

Cons of Coworking Space (or not)

  1. Purpose Misfit. For home-based workers, the primary purpose of working from home may be defeated. The top reason is to work while taking care of small kids or a family member.
    • There will still come a time that your body will seek for a change of environment (and your laptop, a fast internet speed)
  2. Added Budget. Working from home saves money because of the absence of transportation and less laundry, so working in coworking spaces may result to more travel expenses like fare or gasoline. You may also have more laundry because of changing of clothes and dirt accumulation. Food expense may most likely go higher because of  fastfoods or high price points in the vicinity. 
    • Tranpo. Yes, traveling and coworking rent maybe an expense but staying at home may cause you to be less productive and not reach your deadlines due to distractions.
    • Food. Working from home would cause you to cook your own and save more (or not because you will have to use your time instead of working).
    • To help determine if you can save with coworking or not, I have create a table below for computation:
  3. Distraction – I knew people when . they are surrounded by unfamiliar people or spaces may cause more unproductivity. 
  4. Security – coworking spaces are generally safe and secure but traveling home especially when it is late at night might incur some safety risks but this can be addressed by:
    • Having a trusted someone to fetch
    • Booking thru accountable services such as Uber or Grab or a contracted driving service

A Table To Determine if Coworking is for you

Part 1: PSYCHO-EMOTIONAL ASPECT

On a scale of 1-4, determine if this is mostly true of you. 1 as the least true and 4 as mostly true.

Go to "Contact Page" to Advertise Here (Subject to conditions)

1. I work at home because I have a family to take care of: (1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

2. I become unproductive when people surround me:  (1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

Booking.com

3. I spend more in travel expenses when I travel to work district
(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

4. I like to cook my own food
(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

5. I always have people at home who receive mails for me.
(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

6. I feel that my internet at home is fast enough for me to do my tasks:
(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

7. I feel productive when I stay at home:
(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

8. I don’t feel secure traveling to and from work:(1)___(2)___(3)___(4)___

 

Total Score: _____

 

Part 2: Financial Aspect

Enter the monthly total amounts of the following:

  1. Section 1
    1. Cost of Internet at Home: _______
    2. Cost of Food at Cooked Home: _______
    3. Total hours you consider ‘unproductive’ or ‘non-billable’ because of unnecessary sleep, obligation or idle time: _____
    4. Total hours you clean your home office, prepare coffee and maintain home office. ____
    5. Your hourly rate: ____

      For section 1, perform the following operations:
      (#1 + #2) – (#5 * #3 + #4) = Section 1 Total

  2. Section 2:
    1. Monthly Cost of Your Preferred Coworking Space: ____
    2. Monthly Cost of Transportation: _____
    3. Total Time of travel in a month: _____
    4. Your hourly rate: _____

      For section 2, perform the following operations:
      (#1 + #2) + (#3 * #4) = Section 2 Total

    •  (Section 1 Total)
    • less (Section 2 Total)
    • = _________Section 3

Part 3: RESULTS INTERPRETATION

Part 1: Emotional / Pyschological Aspect of Coworking: 

Score 8-16: Coworking is not for you. You are at your most peacable and most peaceable state when you work at home. Coworking is an option when you need to be in meetings, emergencies, power outage or social gatherings. You may be called to a self-employed or entrepreneurial life, working at your own pace.

Score 17-24: Coworking is partly for you. You can work at home but need change of environment at times. You can be a walk-in member or a ‘coworking hopper.’ Working at an office for a corporate setting may be a viable option for you.

Score 25-32: Coworking is for you or you are for coworking. You are delighted to be in an office setting yet independent. You would want a fixed space or an office in a coworking space.

Part 2: Financial Aspect of Coworking
Subtract section 1 to section 2:

If the answer is highly negative*, this means that you save more at home. your finances are saying that you are better working at home to save.

If the answer is a low-number negative or low-number positive**, you may or may not be working a coworking space. It will depend on what role you are performing in your family or work. 

If the answer is positive, this means you save more by working at a coworking space and it is definitely beneficial for you to be in there so.

*means more than your one month income.
**means number is somewhat around your monthly income

 

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