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What is a Coworking Space?

Coworking spaces are extremely trendy right now, and with a rapidly growing number of freelancers, it isn’t hard to see why. The business model is designed to attract young entrepreneurs and business owners with the prospect of a dynamic and exciting work environment, along with proximity to other up-and-coming professionals. The spaces generally serve as either a cheap office replacement for startups or a more businesslike environment for independent contractors. Any given coworking space will generally provide common office amenities including internet, printing, meeting rooms for rent, and mail services, as well as special events for members.

Who Uses Coworking Spaces?

Coworking spaces are most attractive to two groups of people: freelancers or entrepreneurs, and startups.

Freelancers:

A coworking space can be more attractive to a freelancer than a coffee shop for a number of reasons. Biggest among these is the community a coworking space provides. Freelancing can be very isolating if you work from home, or even in a public place surrounded by strangers. Coworking spaces allow freelancers to connect and network with peers in their industry. Additionally, coworking spaces can provide services that might not otherwise be available to freelancers, like high-quality printing, meeting rooms, and important networking connections.

Startups:

For the fledgling company that needs a consistent workspace, but doesn’t want to pay for a traditional office lease, a coworking space can be the perfect solution. Putting many necessary services immediately in reach, while also maintaining a flexible schedule allows small businesses to develop at their own pace. Additionally, coworking spaces are excellent for finding partners and investors, with professional and social events a common aspect or coworking spaces offerings.

How Much Does a Coworking Space Cost, and What Do You Get for Your Money?

There’s no one set cost for a coworking space. Even comparable services will vary wildly from city to city. And, depending on the needs of an individual or their company, the price difference can span literally thousands of dollars per month. The suite of services offered will also be unique to any coworking company, so when deciding whether to utilize a space, one is not just as good as another. For a sense of what to expect for a coworking space cost-wise, and what you can get, here are a few examples of popular companies in the industry.

ImpactHub:

ImpactHub is a massive, worldwide organization that provides space for innovators and offers thousands of programs and events. Much more than other coworking spaces, the company sells itself as a creativity incubator and business community center with a friendly, relaxed attitude. As far as coworking spaces go, ImpactHub is competitively priced in any location, although it does focus more on events that creating a high-powered workplace.

In the Oakland, CA location the most popular pricing plan is OAK 100 at $295/month. Members with this plan are allowed 100 hours of coworking, free or discounted events, highly discounted meeting rooms, tea and coffee, cheap printing, and free mail service. Unlike many other services, the payment levels relate to hours of work rather than privacy level, which makes it perfect for aspiring creatives.

WeWork:

WeWork is also a worldwide organization, but with a far more business-forward attitude than ImpactHub. The structure of the company is also designed to accommodate larger startups and companies that appreciate the open nature of coworking. WeWork’s target demographic is young entrepreneurs who want to quickly expand their business, and atmosphere and price reflect that.

The coworking space offers three main levels of membership; a hot desk shared with others, a dedicated desk that is not shared, and a private office for one or more individuals within the larger area. Depending on location, even a hot desk can cost over $500/month to a few thousand dollars a month. This cost comes with the standard perks of high-level, urban coworking spaces, including IT support, daily cleaning, high-speed internet, and private phone booths, as well as some more unique ones like beer on draft.

SOMACentral:

SOMACentral is a small coworking service in California, with three locations in and around San Francisco. Costs range from a couple hundred per month for a hot desk to a couple thousand per month for a private office. Mostly catering to tech startups, the company boasts alumni in big-name services like Change.org and Grammarly. The coworking space has the standard amenities of high-speed internet, cleaning services, IT and mail staff, conference rooms, phones booths, and rentable space for special events.

District Cowork:

District Cowork is a small and ostentatiously trendy coworking space in New York City. This company places a big emphasis on the social aspect of coworking spaces, with a wide range of professional and social events available for members. One aspect that sets District Cowork apart from others is the specialized program to connect businesses with investors. That, along with showroom options and launch parties, gives the company a unique New York social club atmosphere.

The company’s pricing is fairly standard with private offices starting at $500/month, and lower level plans following the norm as well. Where District Cowork’s membership plan stands out is the ‘virtual’ membership. For $75/month entrepreneurs can make use of the office address, mail services, and meeting rooms, but most importantly receive invites to member events. This makes District Cowork attractive to individuals who want strong networking opportunities but want to save money by staying in their own space.

When is Coworking Not for You?

Despite studies showing the distinct benefits of using a coworking space, they aren’t going to be perfect for everyone. Before putting in the money to rent a private office or even a desk, it’s important to consider whether this kind of work setup suits your needs. If any of these are true of you or your company, perhaps you should think twice about using a coworking space.

Your Budget is Very Limited

Coworking is far cheaper than an office, but it is still a big expense. Even if you are planning to expand quickly, if you don’t have investors yet or funds are tight, a coworking space may not be for you. This is especially true of freelancers and independent entrepreneurs who really need to pinch pennies. Coworking spaces are great for meeting people and growing your brand, but keeping within budget restrictions needs to come first.

You Don’t Work Well with Noise

If you don’t work well around noise, coworking probably won’t be for you. It’s a busy, fast-moving environment, so know your preferences before renting a desk. Any coworking space should offer a tour on request, making it possible to see if the culture is a good fit for you before you buy. For those who are in a good enough financial position, if you really want the social aspect of a coworking space, but don’t want the noise, a private office could be your solution.

You Can’t Afford to Waste any Time

Just as a coworking space can be difficult for someone with a noise sensitivity, it can also be difficult for social butterflies. Coworking spaces are designed to have a social atmosphere, so if you are likely to get distracted by being around people it might be the wrong place for you to be productive. Additionally, working from someplace other than home or a nearby coffee shop means there will be a commute. If you absolutely need to put in the hours every day to keep your business afloat, a coworking space is only good for you if it’s reasonably close, and you can work well around other people.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot to love about coworking spacing; The relaxed atmosphere, proximity to your peers, and the prevalence of networking and professional events all make them ideal places for startups and rising entrepreneurs. The loose, non-traditional system has proven so effective for many that even larger companies are investing in coworking spaces. While coworking can’t provide the same level of structure and repeatability that traditional offices provide, for innovators looking for a new approach to combining business with building a professional community, coworking spaces offer an attractive and affordable alternative to typing by yourself in a café.