Are Coworking Spaces Worth It? The Pros, Cons & Costs
By Varun Bodhi
Questioning are coworking spaces worth it? Many entrepreneurs and businesses consider coworking spaces as a workspace solution at some stage but are unsure if it’s for them.
It’s normal to be concerned if coworking spaces are just a fad that will disappear or if it’s a genuine office space that can enhance your business. Many confuse it for a floor of yoga classes, free beers, and sleeping pods to judge its worth – that’s where it all goes wrong.
Shared workspaces are growing in popularity amongst digital nomads, entrepreneurs, small and large businesses. However, it is pivotal to determine if they are suitable for your business before diving in and signing up for a membership.
The Pros of Coworking Spaces
The number of coworking spaces worldwide is forecasted to reach 41,975 – a whopping 47% increase in shared workspaces globally. Renowned companies such as Spotify, Riot Games, Microsoft, and more have all used coworking spaces at some stage.
Let’s see why the innovating environment is gaining traction.
Productivity and collaboration benefits
Cubicles quickly faded out when people understood the benefits of open-floor office space plans. Productivity and collaboration quickly jump when barriers are removed because employees can freely bounce ideas off each other.
Working alongside other professionals is an excellent opportunity for seeking advice and forming valuable connections that a traditional office wouldn’t be able to provide. Businesses that work in creative, engineering, and marketing industries commonly prefer such environments because their work requires strong collaboration.
Reduce costs and increase flexibility
A conventional office is great.
Until the costs hit the business and the remaining years of the lease are revealed.
On the other hand, coworking spaces are the opposite. Here’s a simple cost comparison of a conventional office vs a coworking space in the CapitaGreen building.
According to rental figures and the average office space per employee, renting a single private office in the CapitaGreen building would cost around $40,500 per year. Alternatively, a coworking space can be leased for $104 per month and the package includes various amenities such as team support, technology, furnished spaces, and more.
Networking opportunities are everywhere
Expanding your network is invaluable – it equates to many unexpected growth opportunities.
These workspaces are buzzing with professionals from diverse backgrounds, and they bridge the difficulty of finding people to network with. Coworking spaces commonly host events and a single chat with another professional may solve your business problems, open doors to new avenues, create new clients, or gain a valuable person to rely on.
Conventional offices confine the number of people you can meet. Generally, it’s only the people who work in your office and events are limited to people in your team.
Work-life Balance and Hybrid
Employee health and hybrid workstyles have become a significant priority. They not only improve staff retention and improve job satisfaction but also increase productivity and attract top talent.
But for a conventional office, business leaders are left with the challenge of paying large amounts for unoccupied desks; that’s where coworking spaces excel. The ability to quickly upscale or downsize your workspace is a significant cost saver and keeps the employer and employee satisfied.
There is also the option of selecting between a hot desk and a dedicated desk.
Hot desks are ideal for teams that prefer moving around to different desks. Having such autonomy and flexibility is refreshing for many people; it also enhances their focus.
On the other hand, dedicated desks are permanent spots and are better suited for teams that don’t prefer moving around. They benefit from customising their work desk and mimicking a conventional office environment while maintaining flexibility.
Working from home is too isolating but always commuting to the office is tiring, hence coworking spaces are great for work-life balance and reducing loneliness.
Environmental Impact and Sustainable Practices
Reviewing our impact on the Earth is everyone’s responsibility and coworking spaces have the edge compared to conventional offices.
Energy efficiency, carbon footprint, green certifications, and renewable resources are only some of the factors businesses should consider. Flexible workspaces such as serviced offices, coworking spaces, and virtual offices are inherently more environmentally friendly than conventional spaces.
It’s the equivalent of taking public transport to work instead of driving. Businesses share resources like space, technology, and resources instead of sourcing their own in different buildings.
The Cons of Coworking
Recent closure or bankruptcy of some major coworking spaces has raised underlying stability issues, so let’s delve into some cons.
Coworking spaces are more than a desk with a chair.
It’s a place that holds together the many operations of your business, and for that, you require stability. Coworking spaces are very stable, and any concerns about closing workspaces can be mitigated by finding a safe company.
For example, Servcorp’s workspaces have remained stable for more than 45 years - stability is key!
Noises and Distractions
Assumedly, any shared workspace is expected to have a certain noise level or potential distractions. But this all comes down to the space you select and its environment.
Some coworking spaces have music playing or don’t have private breakout areas; these are best avoided. Ideally, there should be private phone booths and a culture of respect amongst coworkers to minimise noise.
You can gauge any distractions when taking a coworking space tour and asking the manager about the unspoken culture.
Lack of customisation
Unlike a conventional office, there is little opportunity for designing your workspace. Coworking spaces come fully furnished and the interior design can’t be altered, but this is generally not a big deal breaker.
So long as the workspace is professionally designed, has ample lighting and great views, people will likely enjoy coming to the office.
Selecting the wrong space
It’s easy to fall into the trap of flashy aesthetics, free beers and a table tennis setup to use during lunch. These amenities are great but shouldn’t be your future workspace's focus or selling point.
So, what should a coworking space have? Here’s a checklist for your reference:
- Hot desks
- Dedicated desks
- Dedicated receptionist
- Secretarial help
- In-house IT support
- Fast and secure Wi-Fi
- Meeting rooms and boardrooms
- Phone booths
- Printing and copying machines
- Lockable storage
- Mail forwarding
- Great address
After ensuring these essentials, looking for extra amenities such as shower rooms, gyms, and more is okay.
Does my business need a coworking space?
Selecting an office space for a business is an important but challenging decision. Many companies can assess if it’s an appropriate solution for them after having a look at who uses and benefits from coworking spaces.
Businesses across the globe are drastically opting for coworking spaces because of their cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and scalability.
Overall, it's certainly a safe choice but it's important to have a sound understanding of how to choose an office space before signing up for any contract.
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