Disadvantages of Coworking
View the Global CoWorking Map (A project I am working on)
- Money. Coworking costs money. How much exactly will change drastically. In the Romanian town I am currently staying in, it costs around $55-65 a month, which falls on the lower end of the scale, but in the UK for example, you might be looking at closer to $350. Since most people who don’t have a regular job are usually concerned about money, making a decision if this substantial cost is worth it is important. Before committing to an extended period, take advantage of the free first day most coworking places offer to get a feel for the place. Don’t let it be like an under-appreciated gym membership, and make a decision to use it once you pay.
- Noise. Coworking places can be noisy, and this is hard if you’re easily distracted. Noise is part and parcel of coworking places. People will make calls, talk to each other, move around and sometimes distract you, although most coworkers are quite aware and respectful in the working environment. The same goes to you, if you make many calls, you might want to check if the environment allows that. I recommend to use the first free hours while picking a place to see what is the noise level in the place where you are at, and see if it conflicts with your style of working.
- Lost time. You’ll will probably lose some time due to socializing. As it will be harder to work for eight hours straight, you’ll spend a considerable amount of time talking to people. For me, this is a factor I look for (not to mention that business connections and friends that are gained in the process), but make sure you’re aware of it before you jump in.
- Transport. This is an additional cost you since you will spend both time and money going to and returning from the coworking location. Try picking a place that is close to home and that has convenient transport connection.
- Being presentable. You can’t come to work shirtless and in your boxers, and what you can do at home you can’t do in the coworking space. The “different day, same clothes” habit is not sustainable while coworking.
- Going for big cities. Coworking places are usually located in big cities since they need a critical mass to exist. If you love nature and small places, or living as a Nomadic entrepreneur, it will force you to spend most of your time in bigger cities than your liking. Luckily, as the trend grows, more and more smaller cities are joining the trend of opening new spaces, but I have to admit that the best Coworking opportunities will always be found in bigger cities.
- Constant Change. Coworking spaces are sometimes volatile. Your coworkers will keep on changing, and some coworking spaces don’t even have fixed chairs, so you would also move around in search of a free seat. Coworking spaces also usually have high frequency of staff replacement and are even forced to close down of move location due to generally low profit margins. If you are looking for a Japanese company old style stability no surprises environment, coworking might not be the ideal solution.
- It’s not a 100% substitute for an office environment. Coworking spaces give you freedom to work on what you want. However, for better or worse, don’t expect the same atmosphere as you might have had in a company office. You will probably won’t be working on shared projects with your coworkers which means you will probably not have the same level of guidance and help from them. Coworking spaces also don’t create the same accountability of a boss waiting for you with questions of why you arrived late, or pushing you to work faster. In a coworking space, you are basically working for and with the world’s worst boss ever, yourself. But then again, office politics are also not something you have to worry about..
- Trial and error. Finding the right place for you takes some time, considering that there are many types of Coworking spaces, catering different populations and profile of members.
- Don’t get used to it yet! Coworking spaces, just like other small scale businesses are in a risk of closure, or switching locations due to rent and ownership issues. This means that you will probably have to switch from one place to another even if you feel at home, but that’s part of the fun as well.
If you look closely, you might discover that many of the disadvantages of coworking are actually a blessing in disguise. Spending time socializing create valuable business contacts, time spent on arriving to your coworking is pushing you out of home to breath fresh air, money spent and being presentable makes you take yourself and your time more seriously, constant change of coworkers is making life interesting and so on. The key is to know which things most bother you, and pick the right place for you.
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