Coworking: It’s Not Just for Startups and Freelancers

Robyns Coworking blog

The Pros and Cons of Part-Time Coworking

Don’t get me wrong, I love my office. My cubicle is cute and clean. My desk buddies are chill.  

Groot_OP_RC blog

And not to brag, but I have a pretty solid snack game going on and the baristas at starbucks know my name.

The accessibility to my team can’t be beat and it always makes my day when colleagues stop by on their way to the kitchen to talk MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe!).

But I’m a restless spirit.

Sometimes I just need a change of pace; a different view, a different array of snacks, new people to nerd out over superheros with.

Which is where Coworking spaces come into play!

If you haven’t heard about coworking spaces, then you’re in for a treat. They’re spaces created as a halfway house between a coffee shop and a home office.

If you have a full time office like I do, it’s great for a change of pace. If you work remote, it’s a great way to create a more separate work environment. Overall, I’m kinda obsessed.

Thinking of dabbling in a coworking space?

Here are some pros and cons that I’ve discovered from working in coworking spaces:

1. You get to break out of your rut

We’ve all been there, same tasks day in and day out. Even if you love your job it can get a little exhausting.

The first time I went to a coworking space it was actually to meet with a client. I got off at the same train stop downtown, but instead of heading left, I took a right. Sounds simple? Nope. Instead of obsessively thinking about the problem I’d been facing the day before on my train ride in the morning as I usually do, I was focusing on remembering to take that right. I was terrified I’d show up late or accidentally go to the office.

It turns out that taking my mind out of the usual headspace was the start to kicking me out of my rut. The cascading changes to my routine meant that when I sat down to do work, the search string I’d been struggling with the day before suddenly came easily.

(If I’m being totally honest I was stuck on this blog post until I went to a new coworking space).

2. Networking

Networking! I can’t emphasize enough how great coworking spaces can be for networking. Typical networking events are great, you meet, you shmooze, sometimes there’s pizza. Love it.

But! There is something to be said for casually striking up a conversation with a new table buddy. You never know what connections you can make from asking someone to plug in your laptop.

3. You get to explore new parts of the city

As I write this I’m in a second floor coworking space in Logan Square named Second Shift, maybe fifteen minutes away from where I live, and it feels like a whole new world. I’m here to work, and work I have, but my lunch break was spent strolling down a street and finding an Inferno themed pizza shop that I doubt I’d ever find otherwise.

Last week I spent a few hours on the second floor of Second City via Deskpass, did you know there’s a networking space there? There is, it’s gorgeous.

Why does exploring matter? Can’t I do this on my own time? Sure. But exploring new places and getting new experiences can go along with putting your mind in a new headspace for improved productivity.

4. Let’s talk about these views

I feel like these can stand on their own, some coworking spaces are in buildings that I’d never step foot in otherwise with stunning glimpses at the views our beautiful city has to offer.

Here’s a recent shot from Serendipity labs, Chicago.

Serendipity Labs_WeWorkChicago5. The space itself can impact your health

My cubicle is great, but sitting in the same chair every day can lead to a variety of health problems. Some offices offer standing desks, some offices offer a variety of chairs. But coworking spaces are often set up to have them all.

They offer a huge array of chairs, couches, cushions, beanbag chairs and so on and so forth. A good coworking space is set up to be comfy and inviting with a variety of options. Which can be just the right amount of pampering you need to shake up your workflow and feel renewed! Also, coworking spaces tend to solve a few more problems.

6. Perks for works

Even if you have a fully stocked kitchen, you might look at everything you’d been so excited to buy the day before, and think ‘eh.’ The OP office has a rotating stock of la croix, snacks, and of course, my previously mentioned snack game (strong).

But sometimes it can just be a matter of being exposed to a new set of snacks to spark that creativity and productivity.

One coworking space hosted daily Fooda orders of restaurants that I’d never heard of. Another coworking space put fruit I would never think of combining into water. One place had coffee on tap. ON TAP. As a person on a first name basis with baristas, coffee is a big deal to me. And having access to cold brew on tap was a revelation.

Obviously we come to work for the work, not for the snacks, but snacks can make all the difference.

Okay, enough being nice. Now I’ve got to talk about the cons:

1. Sometimes it can be a little nerve wracking

Going to a new coworking space can be a little bit like the first day of school. Where will I sit? Will anyone like me? Will I make any connections? Will someone steal my stuff?

You won’t know until you try it!

(To the last point; most coworking spaces are very safe, but keep your eye on your stuff. I feel like that’s mostly common sense.)

2. Sometimes you can run into a wall

Once or twice I’ve been working at a coworking space and realized that I really needed my double monitor or some chrome extension I have on my work computer and not on my personal laptop. These problems can be easy fixes or irrelevant if you’re 100% remote. But if you’re a casual coworking space hopper like myself, they can be a bit stressful.

My main workaround here is making sure that I have a few tasks to do on my coworking/remote days that don’t require all my fancy office software, along with a mix of adding some chrome extensions to my personal laptop and dealing with the tiny screen.

3. You can’t leave your lunch in the fridge overnight

I mean, theoretically you can. But I can’t as I rarely work at the same place two days in a row.

4. Sometimes they just don’t fit

The music is not your style, it’s too cold/hot/weirdly humid, the only cubicle left is by the phone booth where a salesperson has locked themselves inside and is loudly repeating the same pitch and canned laugh. The answer here is to keep trying new places!

If you’re looking to make a coworking space your forever work location, try a few out first! Every space has their own vibe and pricing plan. Ask about complimentary coworking days or guided tours.

Keep hunting for the perfect space!

Robyn Carney grew up in Rochester N.Y. before spending her college years in Syracuse, where she got her Bachelors in Social Studies education and traveled to Europe and the Middle East. Robyn attended the University of Chicago for her Masters before starting on a path in research, which led her to join Objective Paradigm’s Sourcing and Research team. In her spare time she enjoys writing and publishing short stories.

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