The rise of remote work has revolutionized the way we approach our professional lives, opening up new possibilities for where and how we can work. With the flexibility to choose from a range of workspaces, remote workers can now select the environment that best suits their needs and preferences.
To help get insight on those ranges, I brought in someone to give some of his insights: Chirag Gupta. Chirag is a coworking OG. He started a coworking space in my hometown of Dallas several years ago, and has been involved in the startup scene for over a decade.
The Realistic Comparison
Remote work presents a wealth of opportunities to explore various work environments, each with their unique benefits for unique personalities. It’s easy to get excited and join a coworking space so that you can get out of that boring office or guest bedroom. After all, coworking spaces offer a vibrant atmosphere and facilitate connections with other professionals from diverse fields. They can provide a structured environment that fosters focus and productivity.
However, as work demands escalate (hopefully), it’s important to be realistic and understand that a bustling environment can sometimes turn into a source of noise and distraction. Enough of this and you might eventually be tempted to revisit to the concept of working from home.
Creating a dedicated home office space, tailored to personal needs and tastes, can offer a conducive work environment. Implementing a well-thought-out routine can help in maintaining a healthier work-life balance. Working from home can offer significant cost savings and flexibility to work at your own pace, free from outside distractions. On the downside, home-based work might lack the networking opportunities and sense of collaboration that coworking spaces can provide.
An effective strategy, in the end, might be to adopt a hybrid work model. Dividing your time between a coworking space and your home office can provide the best of both worlds. You can take advantage of the social and networking benefits of coworking spaces while also enjoying the comfort and focus associated with working from home.
|Coworking Spaces||Working From Home|
|Access to Resources and Amenities||Yes||No|
|Comfort and Personalization||Depends on Space||Yes|
|Distractions and Noise||Yes||Depends on Home Environment|
Benefits of Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces have become a staple among remote workers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, offering a unique blend of resources, networking opportunities, and a sense of community. Here are some of the benefits that are often enjoyed in a coworking space:
- Networking Opportunities: Many remote workers find value in the networking opportunities that coworking spaces provide. Surrounded by professionals from various industries, you can build connections, exchange ideas, find potential collaborators or clients, and in general not be as likely to feel lonely. In fact, a study published in the Harvard Business Review found that 83% of coworking members felt less lonely since joining a coworking space.
- Access to Resources and Amenities: Coworking spaces typically come equipped with a range of amenities designed to make your workday more comfortable and efficient. These may include high-speed internet, meeting rooms, printing facilities, and a well-stocked kitchen or café. Some coworking spaces even offer additional perks like gym access, wellness programs, or discounts at nearby businesses.
- Flexibility: Coworking spaces offer a range of membership plans and schedules, making it easy to find one that fits your needs and budget. Whether you require a dedicated desk, a private office, or just a flexible hot-desking arrangement, you can choose the option that suits you best. Many coworking spaces also provide 24/7 access, allowing you to work at your preferred hours.
Coworking means to be working alongside others in a community of professionals who share some common values. This helps create a dynamic work experience, as well as a productive work atmosphere. Conferencing technologies can blur the lines sometimes between coworking and remote work. For example, I could be working with a client over Zoom while working from home, or while coworking at a physical shared workspace.
coworking founder / Entrepreneur
Benefits of Working From Home
Working from home offers a different set of advantages, giving remote workers the opportunity to create a workspace that is tailored to their needs and preferences. You’re significantly more isolated, but hey, that’s what some people prefer.
- Cost Savings: One of the most significant advantages of working from home is the potential cost savings. You can save on commuting expenses, coworking space memberships, and the costs associated with eating out or buying coffee. Additionally, working from home may qualify you for tax deductions, depending on your location and circumstances.
- Time Savings: The average commute time for Americans is 55 minutes roundtrip. That’s 2 weeks per year! All that goes away by working from home. This extra time can be used to pursue hobbies, spend time with family and friends, or even invest in professional development.
- Comfort and Personalization: When working from home, you have complete control over your workspace. You can design your home office to suit your preferences, from comfy furniture to inspiring decor. Creating a comfortable and personalized work environment can help boost your productivity and overall job satisfaction.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, my job, just like many others, went through a forced transition from working on-site to working from home. Once I had my home office (Zoom multi-camera studio for teaching drums) I immediately experienced some benefits of WFH specifically around sleeping and eating:
– Taking naps in my own bed during work breaks was much better for my eyes and brain. Whereas at work, I would not be allowed to nap and would instead wind up doom scrolling on my phone.
– Cooking food in my kitchen during lunch breaks was much better for my health overall. Whereas at work, I would fight the temptation to have fast food, packaged snacks, coffee, or candy.
coworking founder / Entrepreneur
Drawbacks of Coworking Spaces
While coworking spaces have their advantages, they also come with some drawbacks that may make them less suitable for certain remote workers. Here are some potential challenges you may face in a coworking space:
- Distractions and Noise: One of the main challenges of coworking spaces is the potential for distractions and noise. With many professionals working in close proximity, it can be difficult to maintain focus and avoid interruptions. For those who require a quiet environment to work effectively, a coworking space may not be the best choice.
- Cost: Depending on the membership plan and location, coworking spaces can be expensive, especially when compared to working from home. The monthly fees may not be justifiable for remote workers with a tight budget or those who only need a workspace occasionally.
- Lack of Privacy: In a coworking space, you may not have the same level of privacy as you would in a home office. This can be an issue for remote workers who deal with sensitive information, require confidentiality, or simply prefer a more private workspace.
Drawbacks of Working From Home
Working from home also has its share of challenges that may make it a less-than-ideal option for some remote workers. Here are some potential drawbacks of working from home:
- Isolation: One of the main challenges of working from home is the potential for social isolation. We’re social creatures, and going long enough without those interactions can drive us crazy. Being separated from colleagues and other professionals can make it difficult to maintain a sense of camaraderie. Personally, if this goes on long enough it impacts my motivation and overall job satisfaction.
- Difficulty Maintaining Work-Life Balance: When working from home, it can be challenging to separate your personal and professional life. The blurred boundaries between work and home can lead to overworking or difficulty “switching off” at the end of the day.
- Limited Networking Opportunities: Unlike coworking spaces, working from home does not offer the same opportunities for networking and collaboration. Remote workers who choose to work from home may need to be more proactive in seeking out networking opportunities, such as attending industry events or joining online communities.
- Weird “At Home” Circumstances: For example, financial institutions will want proof of employment when applying for a mortgage. Many times this will include a physical business address. You won’t have this at your own home, but it’s an easy fix if your company has a dedicated office at a coworking space. This is usually remedied by providing the bank with a proof of remote work letter, but it’s still an unusual byproduct of working from home (as is an offer letter that’s specific to remote work rules and parameters, for that matter).
Tips for Making the Most of Coworking Spaces
If you decide that a coworking space is the right choice for you, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience:
- Be Open to Networking: Embrace the opportunities to connect with other professionals in your coworking space. Attend events, engage in conversations, and be open to exchanging ideas and insights with others.
- Choose the Right Space: Not all coworking spaces are created equal, the variety of design helps give the brain a “fresh perspective”, according to Ingrid Woodley. Take the time to explore different coworking spaces in your area, considering factors such as location, amenities, and the community vibe. Ensure that the space you choose aligns with your needs and preferences.
- Establish a Routine: To maximize productivity and maintain a healthy work-life balance, establish a routine for your time in the coworking space. Set clear work hours, take regular breaks, and create boundaries between your work and personal life. When my team and I were exclusively in coworking spaces, we made sure to talk at least one walk break to get some sun and get away from the computer screen.
Tips for Making the Most of Working from Home
If you choose to work from home, here are some tips to help you create a productive and enjoyable workspace:
- Design a Dedicated Workspace: Create a designated area in your home for work, whether it’s a separate room or a corner of your living space. Ensure that your workspace is comfortable, organized, and free from distractions.
- Set Boundaries: Create a routine that enriches your work life, and separates it from your personal life. This might include working from certain parts of your home, among other things. This also includes set work hours, and avoid working outside those hours or letting household chores interfere with your work. I created a WFH planner template that can help, make sure to check that out.
- Stay Connected: Working from home can be isolating, so it’s important to stay connected with colleagues, friends, and industry professionals, even if it’s always virtual. Schedule regular check-ins with your team, attend virtual networking events, and consider joining online communities related to your field.
Closing Thoughts (from Chirag)
All in all, the modern economy (or postmodern) continues to allow for both WFH and coworking as acceptable and efficient ways of doing business. Although many jobs can still only be done in person, the ambitious “ladder climbers” of the world are well-tipped to equip themselves for both coworking and working from home.
coworking founder / Entrepreneur
Jared has worked remotely for 15 years in various marketing capacities, and has managed hundreds of marketing campaigns along the way. He has held freelance, agency, and in-house positions for companies large and small.