While a coworking space offers a collaborative environment with an affordable financial model for startups, I’d argue the costs far outweigh the numerous benefits.
Here are just a few reasons why entrepreneurs may opt to avoid coworking spaces.
1. Workspace clutter
Rising demand of coworking spaces, globally, is creating a tendency among coworking space owners to accept multiple memberships for the same space.
Most coworking websites offer per day, hourly, bi-monthly and monthly memberships. In effect, a single seat is often sold to various coworking space users, which can create space clutter on a given day if 2-3 people turn up for the same seat, leading to wasted productivity time lost while scrambling for other vacant seats.
Meanwhile, in larger markets, an overbooking of seats leads to space clutter in a coworking environment. A 50-seater office space filled with 75 people leads to distractions, poor resource allocation and a poor working atmosphere.
2. Coworking noise
Sure you can opt for noise canceling headphones or to ensure you bring your earbuds to the space daily, but at times you’ll need peace and quiet.
A coworking space membership doesn’t grant the right to silence when it matters most (perhaps an important client phone call or whiteboard session). Many members talk loudly on phones or chat at the space workstations while others are at work. Some coworking spaces often lack of list of rules and regulations for paid members, leading to a few people misunderstanding the rights of renting a seat at a coworking office.
Keeping the noise at a minimum is difficult with various companies and individuals working at the same time. For instance, a coworking space my team used to work in would often host big birthday parties, impromptu guitar gigs, all the while shouting and celebrating their achievements for everyone to hear. Eventually, they were politely told to keep the noise down, use the cafeteria or lease an independent office space.
Productive, again, is lost in these situations.
Coworking spaces promote a plug-and-play laptop lifestyle, but many forget to provide business privacy. Since many spaces follow an open-desk setup and “sit anywhere you want and work” format, if you don’t have a dedicated space within the coworking office itself, you’re business data and privacy is at risk.
It’s not likely you’ll need to worry about theft. However, working in a coworking space also means being mindful of communication that someone can overhear, take out of context and misuse. Meanwhile, keeping business practices and data from potential competitors who could be right next sitting to you is important.
4. Slow and unreliable network connections
The Deskmag 2016 Coworking Forecast cites that one-third of coworking space members experience problems in terms of insufficient Internet connection. Even a high speed Internet connection is split among 30+ members in a medium-scale coworking space.
With poor Internet connections, ensuring every member receives speedy Internet is tough to achieve, leading to dip in business productivity, stress and tension. While some coworking spaces allowing members to install their own connection, that’s yet to be applicable across the board. Simply put, an unreliable Wi-Fi connection kills productivity.
Office vibes are a personal preference. In my search of a coworking space with positive vibes and peaceful atmosphere, I spent 5 months zeroing in on a coworking space with walls painted white, minimal furniture, in-house plants and a noise-free environment with more “experienced” members – this is the vibe I chose and yours could be different. You may opt for a more vibrant choice with lots of people moving about.
Working in a coworking space with the wrong vibes can cause you to lose focus on your work, leaving you unable to concentrate. And unbalanced workspace vibes kill productivity.
Ironically, coworking spaces are popular for their perception to improve productivity but as I’ve shared, those five reasons alone can actually kill productivity in varied measures. Are coworking spaces bad? No, they aren’t. Just choose wisely.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Chitraparna Sinha is the founder and Director of Esmee Network, a B2B content development and marketing company, based in New Delhi, India. She is Payoneer (India) Brand Ambassador (2015-2017), speaker, professional blogger and a brand consultant. Connect with @chitraparna on Twitter.
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