To cowork or not to cowork

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coworking space

When you can work from anywhere, how on earth do you choose? Do you have an office you want to go every day? The kitchen table? What about Starbucks or the local coffee place around the corner that is filled with millennials behind laptops? All good options but there is one that is winning popularity around the world: the coworking space. With equal amounts of fans and haters, what are really the pros and cons of these shared offices?


Pros

Social
Being a freelancer or remote worker can feel very lonely at times. No one to share a little chit-chat with, ask a quick question or join for lunch. Cafes rarely provide any social element either. Everyone is just in their own bubble typing away.
This is different in coworking spaces. You often work sitting at long tables and it is customary to introduce yourself to your neighbors. The chances of running into the same people several times a week are also much higher than in a cafe so you’ll quickly build a professional circle.


Networking
Of course, it isn’t all fun and games. You’re all there to get work done. Who knows who you’ll meet that can help you do your work better. Or your next client might very well be sitting next to you. The high possibility of finding new work and/or help already justifies the cost of the rent compared to working from home.


Room to grow
Most coworking spaces offer different subscriptions. Depending on your needs you can rent a flexible desk (just sit wherever there is a spot available), an assigned desk or a whole dedicated area. Earlier this summer SignRequest moved into the coworking space TQ in Amsterdam. Even before we officially moved in, we had already outgrown our rented space. No problem! They just moved us to a larger space that can accommodate the whole team.

Coworking spaces are startup magnets and startups grow, often suddenly and quickly. It is great if you can grow within the same building without having to move across town or pay for something that you hope you’ll grow into eventually but is still way too big now.


Flexibility
An entrepreneur’s workday is seldom from 9h - 5h. We might pull the occasional allnighter, have calls with people in completely different time zones, start early and finish before lunch. Our workspace needs to accommodate this. Coworking spaces will usually grant you 24/7 access. Perfect for the night owl or early riser.


Social pressure
Not having to go to the office is one of the things most freelancers and remote workers love about their work. Funny enough, this is also something we start missing. It is easy to get sucked into domestic tasks when working from home and cafes are often loud. In a coworking space at least it looks like everyone is working hard. This makes you want to get busy yourself as well. Also, you won’t be tempted to open Netflix when anybody who walks by can just look at your screen.


Cons

Price
This is something that holds many back from moving into a coworking space. Let’s say you’re a freelancer who wants to rent a flexible desk spot in a nice coworking space in a big city. It will easily cost you $150 a month for a limited subscription. This often does include free coffee, tea, water and some events.

You won’t spend this much working from your own kitchen table. So if it’s all about the dollars; keep your office setup at home. If you work from a cafe or Starbucks, on the other hand, you’ll easily spend this much: Approximately 4 weeks a month x 5 working days = 20 20 days x 2 $4 lattes = $160 in lattes monthly.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter much if you rent a spot in a coworking space or frequent cafes to work from. The only way to really save is working from home.

Distractions
While many feel the social pressure to work when being surrounded by other hard workers, a coworking space can also be a source of distractions. People walking in and out, others being on a call or having a meeting. If you want absolute silence and zero movement around you, you better stay home.

Commuting
Commuting is bad for your health and mood. Just rolling out of your bed onto the couch with your laptop on your lap does sound like a great way to live.
It will save time that can be spend so much better than sitting in traffic or public transport. You might be one of the lucky few to have a great coworking space just around the corner, awesome! Unfortunately, for most, working from a coworking space means taking precious time out of your day to move there and back. Not always worth it.

We at SignRequest have tried it all out. We are a partly distributed team which means that our team can choose where and when they want to work. This might be from home, from a cafe or a beach in Asia. However, we do love seeing each others’ faces from time to time. This is why we moved into TQ in Amsterdam where the whole team is welcome to join whenever they feel like it. It’s our way of keeping our business personal.


SignRequest is an electronic signature solution and lets you send and sign documents without the need for a printer or scanner. Easy, free and legally binding, no matter if you’re in a coworking space in Sydney or a cafe in Mexico City.


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