Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, a digital nomad or a remote employee, picking a proper place to work will impact not only your productivity, but also your well-being overall. Keep reading for some tips on how to make the right choice, along with several aspects to consider that you might have not yet contemplated.
While it might seem obvious that working from home is the least expensive option, it’s important to bear in mind the various expenses that come with it, namely heating, electricity, water, and even coffee (which is sometimes provided for free at some coworking spaces)! We recently published an article with reasons why you should choose a coworking space in the winter, but most of these apply the rest of the year as well.
That said, having a home office will probably still save you some money. But if you’re one of us and the idea of being at home all day drives you crazy, you might be wondering what would be more cost-efficient: working in a coffee shop or joining a coworking space. It probably depends on how often you visit cafés and how many cups of coffee you have per day. In some cases, working from a coffee place could get more expensive than getting a membership at a coworking space. And not only that – we must not forget the various drawbacks of working in a place that hasn’t been designed to work, which we will elaborate on further down in this article.
Office Equipment & Amenities
The good thing about working from home is that you have complete freedom of choice. When one spends 8 hours or more in front of a screen, it becomes important to get hold of good equipment. Some basics are a good laptop/computer, a comfortable chair and a spacious desk, but then you have the possibility to add myriads of accessories for your convenience, such as a laptop riser or a microphone, to name but a few. That said, this equipment investment has to come from your own pocket (unless you work for a company which provides it for its employees), so that’s an important point to consider.
Unfortunately, at coworking spaces you won’t always have this freedom, let alone in coffee shops. Customization is limited and you just have to be content with whatever is provided. That said, most coworking spaces offer fixed desk memberships that allow members to adapt it to their needs to a certain extent (the desk and the office chair are often already provided by the coworking space). But even without a dedicated desk, you must bear in mind that coworking offices are designed and intended for people to work there every day. That’s why they often put a big effort in making the space as comfortable as possible, with proper office chairs and desks with ample space to work. On top of that, they often come equipped with printers and scanners and other appliances which can be a useful thing to have right at your workplace.
For their part, coffee shops are not suitable for long working days. Granted, you can do some chill work for about a couple of hours. But you don’t want to be sitting there for the whole day every day of the week. Chairs at cafés are often not designed for that and you will likely end up having back pain. But on top of that, there are other aspects to consider:
- It’s not always easy to find sockets. So if you’re low on battery, you’re in trouble. And trust me, it can be very frustrating to see that the only table next to a socket is already taken by someone else. Tables at coffee shops can’t be booked in advance after all!
- The WiFi connection is not always reliable. And what’s more, in some places is even limited to 1 or 2 hours. Obviously, café owners do not benefit from you sitting there all day.
- Would you feel safe going to the toilets and leaving all your belongings on the table? This would be a weight off your shoulders if you stay at home or go to a coworking space instead.
On top of that, we must not forget that most people go to coffee places to catch up with friends, so you can expect some distracting chatting around you or even loud music that won’t let you focus.
Connections & Networking
Needless to say that working from home won’t bring you many opportunities to socialize and expand your network of contacts. While this might not seem an issue at the beginning, believe it or not several weeks or months of little social interaction can have an adverse impact on your productivity and motivation. We’re a social species after all!
At coffee shops you will definitely be surrounded by tons of other customers. But at the end of the day, building connections with them becomes quite complicated. Faces change every day and people go to cafés to enjoy a good cup of coffee. Making friends is often not the goal. So again, your days can be quite lonely.
Coworking spaces are just the right place to meet like-minded professionals. The main motivation to join a coworking space is to get a proper space to do your work. But next to that, there are countless opportunities to meet other members. Coworking managers often strive for organizing events that promote connections, from business talks to more casual meetups such as afterwork drinks. So whether it’s at an event, or even just during a break for coffee, there’s always a chance to chat with other people. But it’s not only socializing that comes into play. Other members in a coworking space could even help you boost certain aspects of your business. For example, if you’re a kick-ass programmer, but struggle with the marketing side of your company, we’re pretty sure you can easily find a person or two who are experts in the field and who would be willing to give you a hand. And why not, one of the members could even become your next client. We’ve seen that happen!
Other Aspects to Take into Account
Do you sometimes need to meet clients or work on a project with your team? Working from home or in a café will make that a bit difficult. On the contrary, coworking spaces offer meeting rooms that you can book, and most memberships include a certain amount of free hours of use per month.
If your work involves a lot of phone calls or being on Zoom meetings all day, then you need to plan carefully where to take them. The noise and the sometimes unreliable WiFi connection of a coffee shop doesn’t make it a suitable place for this matter. Working from home won’t pose a problem, but you might want to know that many coworking spaces are also equipped in this regard. It’s not uncommon to find sound proof calling booths where you can take your calls in private. That said, this is a good solution provided you only have a few calls a day. But if you’re on the phone all day, you might better stay home.
For those who work after hours or whose company and/or clients are based in a different time zone, a space that is 24/7 accessible becomes essential. This is definitely not the case of coffee shops. But what about coworking spaces? While you might find a few that have limited access hours, the vast majority are open 24/7 for members.
Conclusions: Which One to Choose
Weighing all the pros and cons, we would recommend stepping away from cafés, unless you only go there sporadically when you have some more chill work to do.
But now, what’s better: working from home or in a coworking space? This largely depends on your individual needs. While we think coworking spaces are the stronger candidate for they provide everything you need to get your work done, they might not always meet everyone’s specific needs. So taking all the above into account, it’s up to you to make the decision! But still, many coworking spaces offer a free trial day. So we highly recommend giving it a try and experience what it feels like to work in a shared open space before jumping to conclusions.
Below you can find a comparison chart that will hopefully help you make up your mind.
1 It depends on how much you’re willing to invest.
2 Most coworking spaces allow to take phone calls in dedicated spaces, such as meeting rooms or calling booths. It’s often not possible to have calls in the open space, so it might not be a good fit if you’re on the phone all day.
3 Make sure to check the opening hours before joining a coworking space. Many offer 24/7 access to members, but it’s not the case of all.