By Kalin Kassabov, a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise-level text message suite of services.
As we enter the latter part of 2021, many small businesses are still facing uncertainty. Safety concerns are still keeping people home or at least modifying their everyday behavior. Many workplaces have continued to offer employees flexible hours and the option of working at home. In this environment, coworking spaces are an interesting solution for entrepreneurs, online business owners, freelancers and remote employees.
The Advantages Of Coworking
Coworking emerged in the 2000s as a popular alternative to working at home or in public places such as cafes. From my experience using coworking spaces at various times and my conversations with friends and colleagues who use them, coworking offers quite a few advantages.
• It provides networking opportunities. You may meet future partners, investors, collaborators, employees, employers, etc.
• It offers a social space and helps offset feelings of isolation and loneliness that can come with prolonged working at home.
• It gives you a chance to mingle with people from many industries and walks of life. Such an environment can be more interesting and creative than a typical office.
• It offers a more harmonious atmosphere. Personal conflicts can occur anywhere, of course. However, a diverse and fluid environment, such as a coworking space, is less likely to be plagued with office politics and gossip than a more insular traditional office.
Are There Drawbacks To Coworking?
Coworking isn’t necessarily the ideal solution for all people at all times. There are a few potential drawbacks.
• There’s a lack of privacy. If you need privacy, such as phone calls discussing sensitive or proprietary information, working in a public space may not be appropriate.
• Distractions abound. If the space is busy or you have friends that you talk to, a coworking space can present distractions. Of course, there are distractions everywhere, including at home, in a cafe or in a traditional office.
• Costs can be tricky. Coworking spaces offer a variety of plans, depending on the company, location and how often you use them. It may take some research and experimentation to find the solution that provides you the best value.
Coworking During The Pandemic
When the 2020 pandemic hit, coworking spaces faced some of the same challenges as other businesses. Yet, they also offered many people an alternative to either going to work or staying at home. Coworking spaces tend to offer greater social distancing options than a traditional office. For one thing, they are usually accessible at all hours, making it possible for clients to stagger their schedules to avoid crowds.
Coworking spaces, like so many other businesses, had to do a certain amount of restructuring in 2020. In addition to enhanced cleaning, companies redesigned floor plans to provide more personal space and rerouted entrances to avoid unnecessary contact.
There’s a certain paradox of enforcing social distancing in an environment originally intended to encourage socializing. However, even a safer, re-imagined coworking space is still a public space and considerably more social than working from home. As conditions remain uncertain in 2021, coworking remains a viable option for businesses and entrepreneurs.
Get The Most Out Of Coworking
Whether you are a solo business owner or managing a team, coworking provides many opportunities for flexible work arrangements.
• Shop around and choose your coworking space with care. Make sure they have policies in place to keep everyone safe. Read customer reviews to make sure they have the features you need.
• Maintain safety protocols. Pay attention to the latest news and recommendations in your area regarding masks, social distancing, vaccines and the current risk level in your area.
• Keep your personal space clean. Although coworking spaces have a cleaning staff, it’s still up to each user to clean up after themselves. Before leaving, take everything with you, and don’t leave debris behind.
• Use virtual meetings when appropriate. Most coworking spaces offer their clients the convenience of meeting rooms. However, while social distancing is still recommended it’s safer to hold meetings online using video conferencing software. Virtual meetings are often more convenient as they allow people to log in from any location.
The Future Of Coworking
The nice thing about coworking spaces is that they can fulfill many roles. Some people use them as their sole or primary place of work. Others use them on occasion, such as when traveling or when their usual workplace is not open. Most coworking spaces offer a flexible variety of plans, depending on how often you need to use them.
Some larger companies offer spaces in multiple cities and countries. WeWork, for example, one of the pioneers of coworking, has been around since 2010 and has 800 locations in over 100 cities. This type of setup is great for entrepreneurs who travel and can check into the local coworking office wherever they go.
If you’re curious about coworking, take some time to research companies in your area. Talk to people who have used these spaces. Read online reviews. You may find that a coworking space is a safe, convenient and social environment in which to get your work done.