Coworking Pros and Cons
By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
By now, most professionals are familiar with the concept of coworking. They’ve either spent time in a coworking space or know someone who has. So, are coworking spaces viewed as positive or negative? What are coworking pros and cons?
Distinguishing pros and cons gets people acclimated to coworking, so they know what to expect and what not to expect. Establishing these expectations helps mold a better experience. Business operators also need to know coworking pros and cons. These opportunities and drawbacks shape the business model and are instrumental in running a coworking space properly.
So, what are the top coworking pros and cons? What do they mean for owners and occupants? Most importantly, how can operators overcome the negatives and accentuate the positives?
Pros: The benefits of coworking spaces
Flexibility is the single biggest benefit coworking spaces offer, and they exemplify it in diverse ways. Many of the biggest benefits of coworking spaces stem from adaptability on the part of patrons and owners.
Far and away the most prominent benefit of coworking is space on demand. The space-as-a-service model benefits both sides of the transaction. Professionals rent space where and when they need it, and pay for only what they need. The same goes for businesses footing the bill for their remote employees. For coworking space owners, there's an ebb and flow in occupancy, enabling more member sign ups and greater cash flow, like a gym.
Coworking spaces aren’t confined to static layouts. This allows them to adapt to the needs of the moment. Operators can push desks together or open rooms to groups, or space people further apart during slower periods to give them more privacy. The space truly meets the needs of the people using it.
There’s also the creative element to consider. Coworking inspires collaboration, which leads to productivity and success. It naturally fosters a sense of community and inclusion within a social environment. Professionals from different backgrounds can easily meet and chat. Vendor and customer have a neutral place to discuss business. It’s a major benefit with rippling positives.
An oft-overlooked benefit of coworking is the low maintenance of it all. Everything about these spaces is dynamic, leaving fewer opportunities for mess and disarray. No one’s desk can become a pigsty because they’re not there long enough. Basic janitorial is enough to keep facilities welcoming, and good rules about desk etiquette goes a long way toward reducing clutter.
The many benefits of coworking are apparent for today’s remote and mobile workforce. Coworking fills a void left by the phase-out of traditional offices and the demand for a flexible, workplace-like environment.
Cons: The problems with coworking spaces
Almost all problems with coworking spaces stem from the concept and lack of planning to accommodate it. Coworking isn’t a free-for-all on open space or a concept that allows people to drift aimlessly and bother others. Done right, it’s a workplace philosophy that brings people together in a structured, sensible way.
The biggest complaint about coworking is “too many distractions.” Often, it’s valid due to lack of design foresight. You can’t put 50 people in a space meant to accommodate 30, with phones buzzing, people chatting, and computers chiming. It’s a recipe for distraction. Mitigating this issue is as simple as providing the right amount of personal space and instituting etiquette rules. Even creative interior design elements can reduce distraction levels. It’s all about setting a tranquil, focused mood.
Another big concern is the lack of organization. Letting people check in upfront and wander aimlessly searching for a desk is a problem. It’s distracting and disruptive, especially if workers are bothered with questions. Structured coworking is the solution: assigned desks with flexible occupancy terms. People know exactly where to go and stay within the realm of their space, keeping the greater coworking environment organized.
Lack of space diversity can also be a problem, albeit a more location-specific problem. A coworking facility might have an abundance of single-occupancy workspaces, but none for teams of four or five. Or, there might only be one or two spaces by a window. Coworking spaces need diversity, because they cater to diverse patronage.
Coworking problems usually creep up when the space is poorly-managed. The biggest issues—lack of privacy, overcrowding, organizational questions—can all be overcome with forethought and good space management.
Weigh the pros and cons of coworking
Like any workplace desking concept, coworking has its pros and cons. It’s crucial to understand them before implementing this concept. In some cases, the negatives are nominal; in others, they require strategy to overcome. No matter the situation, it’s important to stress the positives. Getting the concept to run smoothly comes down to understanding it. Knowing the potential and the pitfalls of coworking is the secret to making it work.
Keep reading: Coworking space benefits.