Coworking: Its Challenges and Possible Solutions
What is Coworking?
Coworking involves the use of membership-based spaces that allow workers to use a shared office space. Freelancers use coworking spaces as regular places away from home to do their work. Companies that have employees in multiple geographic locations or companies struggling to find office space can also find coworking spaces as an advantageous solution. Typically, these spaces come with access to printers, copiers, fax machines, mail capabilities, private meeting rooms and opportunities for networking and socializing.
Coworking provides an opportunity for people who would otherwise be working alone to come together in one commonly shared space. These spaces can be a great solution for freelancers, start-ups, and companies looking for effective ways to manage flexible working arrangements. There are many benefits to using coworking spaces, but some people can find certain aspects difficult. Understanding the way coworking spaces function and their benefits can help outline challenges and possible solutions to getting the most of coworking spaces.
The Benefits of Coworking Spaces
Opportunities for Collaboration
Coworking spaces facilitate collaboration between people of different companies, backgrounds, and specialties. Since the work across members varies considerably, there are a lot of different people who can help add ideas to a project. The typical open-space layout of the office and dedicated areas for socializing encourage members to talk about their work or issues they have with their projects together. Getting ideas or recommendations from people in other fields can offer a different perspective.
A part of navigating the traditional workplace involves playing office politics. In a coworking space, competition between individuals does not exist in the same way. People do not compete with one another for a promotion or to get the attention of their bosses. The lack of office politics can reduce the stress that managing interpersonal dynamics and competition in an office can bring.
Sense of Community
Working as a remote employee or a freelancer can be an isolating experience. Coworking spaces provide a place for individuals to concentrate on their work in an environment surrounded by others. The added social spaces and networking activities that come with a coworking space provide additional opportunities to interact with others and feel a sense of community. Participation in social activities is optional so that each person can decide the level of involvement that works for them.
Challenges and Solutions in Coworking
Challenge: Interruptions from Noise
Some people are easily distracted and conversations occurring around them can interrupt their ability to work in a coworking space. Depending on the way the coworking company structures the office, sound from social spaces can carry into work areas. Visitors considering using the space, phone calls, and background noise, in general, can all interrupt someone’s ability to be productive.
Solution: Noise Reduction Structures
Different coworking spaces have varied rules in terms of noise levels and placement of social spaces. Some people thrive in louder environments while others need as little noise as possible. Taking a tour of the space to determine the noise level, asking about specific rules, and finding places with private meeting rooms, private areas for work or dividers between desks can help people choose a coworking place that has the optimal conditions for them. Noise-canceling headphones can also provide extra support in creating a distraction-free zone.
From membership fees and desk rental fees to extra amenities, coworking spaces can be expensive. They certainly cost more than working at home for free. The costs of coworking spaces can vary by company and geographic location. Some spaces charge monthly or annual membership fees while others do not.
Solution: Flexible Membership Options
Individuals can take advantage of a range of different membership options. Some people only want space a few days a week or on an as-needed basis, and other individuals need a desk each day. If prospective members compare the different membership options, they can find one that works with their budget, the amount of time they plan to spend in the coworking space, and the amenities they need.
As coworking companies often include access to basic business equipment in the fees, membership for companies starting out is often less expensive than renting traditional office space and paying start-up costs. Some spaces even offer discounts for companies looking to rent for multiple employees.
Challenge: Lack of Privacy
The communal environment of a coworking space certainly has its perks, but a lack of privacy can be waning. Sometimes people need to make confidential phone calls or speak to clients in person. Additionally, shared Wi-Fi and other technological devices can create difficulties in maintaining the confidentiality and security of data.
Solution: Privacy and Security Measures
To ensure space for confidential conversations, workers should check that private meeting rooms are regularly available. Coworking spaces that prize privacy and security also use password-protected rather than open Wi-Fi networks. Including extra security on personal computers is also a good idea to prevent data breaches. Without an office server to store information, workers should back up their files frequently to avoid data loss.
A coworking space can provide freelancers and employees with a community to facilitate collaboration and a host of other benefits unavailable when working at home or in overcrowded conditions. Adjusting to an open office environment can be a struggle for some. Investing time in finding the right coworking space can help workers avoid a mismatch in needs.