September 16, 2021 by Andrea Rajic

Coworking 101: What It Is and How to Leverage Its Benefits

You've finally ditched the office. Hooray! No more commuting and the business attire you don't really like that much.

But now you're facing some other challenges. You have to admit it can get a bit lonely when you're working from home all the time. And never actually leave your pajamas - at least the bottom, since you may need to put a shirt on for a Zoom meeting.

So, you're wondering - is there something in the middle? Like going to the office, but not really? Well, the good news is, there are dozens of such places, and they're probably closer than you think. Coworking spaces are emerging worldwide nowadays, but what does it really look like to work from one?

Read our guide and learn more about the benefits of working from a coworking space.

What Is Coworking?

Coworking refers to using third-party flexible workspaces to complete your work-related tasks rather than going to your office or working from home.

In these offices, you will typically find:

  • startups
  • self-employed people
  • small business owners and their team members
  • freelancers

Most coworking spaces offer both private offices and shared/single desks and a variety of packages to suit everyone's needs: daily, weekly, or monthly, and even annual passes. These include desks, equipment such as scanners or copy machines, one or two drinks a day, etc.

Coworking vs. Hot Desking

Today's remote work comes in different forms: classic coworking, hoteling, hot desking, satellite offices, and more. Some people use all these terms interchangeably, but there are slight differences between all of them.

Coworking spaces typically offer designated desks (or offices) that you pay for over a certain period and consider them "yours." That means, if you've booked a desk to work at for a month, no one else can occupy it during that period.

Hot desking is actually the opposite. You can't book a table and call it yours because it runs on a first-come, first-served basis. You arrive at the workspace and simply choose whichever desk is available at the moment.

Coworking vs. Satellite Offices

Also known as regional offices, satellite offices are workspaces that aren't located in the same city or country as the company's headquarters. In some cases, they may be found in the same town but are usually far apart.

Although they're separated, they're connected and function as one business. Satellite offices are usually smaller than the headquarters, and the number of employees using them isn't limited. Depending on the space size, there can be just a few people working from this office, or even a hundred of them.

coworking nyc

Coworking Facts and Figures

  • In 2007, there were fewer than 20 coworking spaces in the US. Today, that number is predicted to reach 40,000 by 2024. The US is also one of the world's leaders regarding the number of coworking spaces, followed by India and the UK.
  • The first official coworking space was open in Berlin, Germany, in 2009.
  • Despite the pandemic, this industry's future looks pretty bright. Many companies around the globe are looking to adopt remote-first or hybrid work models, which may increase the need for coworking and flexible workspaces.
  • The number of coworking space users is expected to hit 5 million within three years. For 42.6% of people who participated in a survey, coworking is the second-best choice after working from home.
  • Most new coworking spaces are opening in New York and London.
  • By 2030, coworking spaces will cover 30% of the commercial real estate market.
  • Over 70% of coworking spaces become profitable in two years or less.
  • On a global level, almost 38% of SMEs use a coworking place for their teams.

Types of Coworking Spaces

There's a variety of coworking spaces out there, and their services go from desk-only offers to full office experiences.

Open Coworking Spaces

These are what first comes to your mind when you hear the words coworking space. Open coworking spaces resemble coffee shops in many ways, but provide office desks, are quieter, etc. They typically promote collaboration and don't offer much privacy but have a motivating environment and relaxed atmosphere that encourages networking.

Corporate Coworking Spaces

Unlike the open coworking spaces, these nurture a more formal atmosphere and elegant interior design. They're usually quieter and offer more privacy than open spaces. Professional coworking spaces are ideal for small teams that meet for a brainstorming or planning session.

Full-Service Coworking Spaces

Some coworking spaces offer a complete service. The list of amenities may include the kitchen, food and beverages, use of copy machines and scanners, private offices for making phone calls or holding meetings, and even nap rooms for you to take a break. They cost more than average, but they do provide an authentic and comfortable office experience.

Coworking Spaces for a Workation

If you're a digital nomad, your lines between working and leisure hours are probably blurry. The same goes for workdays and vacation time. But if you're purposely looking for a coworking space that can offer both relaxation and working conditions, make sure you check out rural coworking spaces. They're typically located in the countryside, with stunning views, unspoiled nature, and a stable Wi-Fi connection.

Industry-Specific Coworking Spaces

Some coworking spaces are specially adapted to different niches, so they're a suitable environment for their specific needs. This type of coworking space is common among healthcare, creative, and law industries and offers customization to its guests.

Pros of Using Coworking Spaces

So, what are the upsides to spending your day in a coworking space instead of staying at home or going to the office?

They Can Prevent Loneliness

Working from home is all fun and games until you catch yourself talking to your dog more often than you'd like to admit. Missing your colleagues is normal - we're social beings that like the water cooler chats! To prevent feeling lonely and isolated, many people visit coworking spaces to work with their colleagues who live nearby or meet new people.

They're More Cost-Effective Than Coffee Shops

If you're determined to leave the house, you may need to choose between working from a coffee shop or a coworking space. Coworking may end up being cheaper, especially if you opt for a monthly pass where your coffee and other amenities are included.

Moreover, 57% of workers wish they had an office closer to where they live - so they can avoid commuting and save money: New Yorkers can end up saving up to $7,000 per year without the transport fares/gas costs.

They Enable Networking

Connecting with people from your and other industries may be critical for your career development. You never know who you'll meet and who you'll be able to learn from. Using a shared desk in a coworking space may lead to new friendships and collaborations - over 80% of participants in a survey said coworking has grown their professional network.

They Provide Flexibility

It's like having an office on the go. Coworking spaces are typically open all day and on the weekends, so if your job allows it, you can enjoy flexible working hours. When you're in the office, you can't really come and go, but when working from a coworking space, you can go for a longer walk, take a break whenever you want, etc.

They're Accessible Wherever You Live

As their number is growing, coworking spaces aren't reserved for big cities anymore. In fact, many smaller towns, even coastal ones, realize the potential of such spaces and open them in locations that are a dream for working with a view.

They Offer Amenities

Are you reconsidering working from home because you don't have a printer or another piece of equipment? No worries. Most coworking spaces offer them as a part of their packages.

Employees Are Happier

Coworking spaces offer a pleasant atmosphere and a stimulative environment where people feel motivated to work. Sometimes, they can even enjoy ergonomic chairs and other equipment and other amenities that support their wellness. And the fact that they can use a coworking space instead of going to an office has made almost 90% of employees happier than they were before joining.

co working outdoor

Cons of Using Coworking Spaces

Despite all the good sides of coworking, there are still challenges you may face if you opt for this type of work. Here they are.

Lack of Privacy

If you're only renting a desk rather than a private office, you may not have sufficient space to complete all your work-related tasks. Not having enough privacy and being unable to sit behind a closed door can be an issue in several situations. For instance, if you need to discuss confidential company information in a meeting or need a few less noisy moments to talk to your client.

Tech Issues

Coworking spaces need to ensure they offer a strong Wi-Fi connection since everyone onsite will use it. Also, if the computer encounters an issue, you can't call your in-house tech support to help you out. You need to rely on the coworking space's tech team, and it may take a while until they're able to fix your problem. And if you use your own computer, you need to carry all your equipment and gadgets with you when you go to work.

Low Productivity Due to Lack of Discipline

Being around people is a double-edged sword. Sure, you won't feel lonely, and you'll meet new people and potential clients, but if self-discipline isn't your strong suit… Well, let's just say you'll be far less productive than you expected. It's hard not to get carried away and forget you're actually there to work when you're in the middle of an interesting conversation.

How to Make the Most out of Coworking Spaces: Best Practices

Looking to introduce coworking spaces to your team? In that case, we have a few tips you and your employees can follow to make the most out of coworking spaces and be their most productive selves.

Test Different Places

Maybe you've heard corporate coworking spaces are suitable for tech startups. But that's not a hard and fast rule! Before choosing a coworking space to book for yourself or your team, make sure you visit several and feel their energy. Where do you feel most motivated? Which one provides amenities that you deem necessary? Finally, don't disregard the location - is it close enough to your home?

Get Noise-Canceling Headphones

Some people like to work while listening to music, but others may feel distracted by the noise. After all, you're not equally focused every day either. To prevent music and other people's chit-chat from messing with your productivity, get some noise-cancelling headphones so you can focus in any type of environment.

Plan Your Use of Amenities Ahead

You're not the only one using the amenities at your chosen coworking space. Be mindful of others and make sure you plan ahead. What do you need to print? When will you need it? Will you need a scanner at some point? Or do you need to use the coffee machine several times a day? When you arrive at your desk in the morning, ensure you have everything you may need to avoid unpleasant surprises later.

Schedule Your Working Hours

If your whole team uses a coworking space, you should create a schedule and align your working hours. Of course, there should be some flexibility to it, but having a plan will help you make sure you have everyone on site when they're needed. If you need to work on a project with your colleague, it won't help if they're working 7-3, and you arrive at 2.

coworking space

Keep Your Desk Clean

Putting away the things you use and cleaning up when you're done for the day should go without saying. However, everyone needs a little reminder from time to time. Keeping your desk clean and being careful with the equipment you use benefits you as much as everyone else you share the workspace with.

Participate in Your Community

Don't forget the "co" in coworking. Yes, you're there to work, but you're also there to build your community, meet new people, and learn new things. Participate in events, conversations, and the everyday life of your coworking space. A brief chat with another person can be inspiring or result in a long-term friendship or collaboration. You never know!

Connect, Collaborate, and Cowork!

Ready to explore the possibilities of coworking spaces? Feeling excited about having an office you'll be sharing with your own team, but also plenty of other people? Or the flexibility and cost savings that come along with booking a desk in a coworking space?

Take a break from your home office. Get out there a little. And if you're not sure in which direction to go, reach out to Gable first. We specialize in helping people just like you find their ideal flexible workspace and thrive!

Written By

Andrea Rajic



© 2022 Gable