While there are plenty of benefits to this way of working, is there a dark side of coworking? Could you be putting your business at risk by adopting this latest workspace trend? Here are some of the downsides to coworking:
1. Finding your space
There are plenty of types of coworking spaces to choose from. It can take time to find the one that matches your working needs.
It can be highly competitive to get into some spaces. Accelerators and incubators, for example, often require members to go through an application process. Popular coworking spaces can also easily become oversubscribed.
When you get into a space, you may also struggle to book meeting rooms and other amenities during peak times.
2. Zero privacy
A coworking space is a shared space. While you can usually rent out a private office if you need to, you will have to share other areas such as the kitchen, office amenities, meetings rooms, and so on.
This may not be an issue for some businesses or individuals. However, if you’re dealing with commercially sensitive information or are a startup in the early stages, you may not want to risk losing your IP.
3. Working with the enemy
The networking opportunities that coworking spaces provide are often a double-edged sword. While you can benefit from collaborating with like-minded souls to a certain extent, you could also run into competitors.
As with any shared environment, you could also end up sitting next to someone who you just don’t get along with.
There are plenty of ways to resolve this. For example, you can just shift desks or have a quiet word with your community manager, if needed. However, the lack of an HR department usually means you’ll have to resolve such issues yourself.
4. Working hours and atmosphere
Some coworking spaces offer 24/7 access but others may only be available during standard office hours. If you need to work into the night or odd hours to talk to overseas clients, this could be a problem.
Likewise, coworking spaces are sometimes distracting places to work. While many offer quiet zones and spaces, noise can carry a long way in the open areas.
Many spaces also run extensive events programs. These add value to members but can be distracting if you’re trying to work and may put additional pressure on the coworking space’s resources.
Your home office is free to use. Coworking costs vary depending on your location and the sort of space you use.
For example, the average cost for a hot desk is $453/month in New York. A dedicated desk will cost you an average of $636/month in the Big Apple.
6. Lost time
Coworking can eat away at your time. You’ll probably spend more time socializing and you’ll have to commute to your coworking space.
However, you could argue that this is time well spent. Socializing can help you form meaningful work connections and collaborations. The commute can also help you separate your home and working lives more effectively.
7. Constant change
If you decide to hotdesk, you can’t guarantee the same desk will be free, every day. While some people may enjoy such change, others may get frustrated if they have to constantly switch work environments, especially if that requires sitting on an uncomfy chair).
You can get a regular spot by, for example, using monthly subscriptions and booking a dedicated desk or private office. However, this costs more than a simple drop-in hotdesking option.
8. It’s not your space
The amenities in a coworking space are usually extensive. However, you don’t have control over your environment. So, you may, for example, find yourself arguing over the office temperature, cleaning up after others or putting up with onerous smells from someone’s lunch.
Most spaces do have policies in place to provide a hospitable work environment but, as with any office, these can be difficult to enforce.
Is there only a dark side of coworking?
It’s worth remembering that coworking spaces, in particular, differ greatly on a case-by-case basis in terms of their amenities, target audience and objectives.
Coworking spaces do offer plenty of choice and flexibility compared to other work environments. So, make sure you explore all the options available to you and your business.