Office spaces don’t look like they did during our parent’s careers.  With the rise of remote workers, traditional offices don’t provide the kinds of tools and environments where employees can work and thrive.

Sometimes, though, working from home or from your local coffee shop just doesn’t cut it. That’s where coworking spaces come into play.  What are coworking spaces, what makes them great and when should you avoid them?

What Are Coworking Spaces?

Coworking spaces have all the benefits of a traditional office — WiFi, printers, workspaces, conference rooms, maybe even snacks and coffee, depending on the perks that they offer.

The one thing they don’t require is a long-term commitment or lease which is why they’re so popular with remote workers.  You can rent a desk or an office for a day, a week, or a month — however long you need one — without having to sign a lease. 

It sounds like the perfect solution for remote workers who might need something a little more professional than the couch in their living room, but is it all it’s cracked up to be? 

Benefits of Coworking Spaces

First, let’s look at the benefits of co-working spaces.  

These spaces give you everything you need to work remotely or run your own business, whether that means you need better-dedicated wifi or access to a printer that’s better than the one you can buy at Wal-Mart.  

They also offer nearly limitless flexibility.  If you get bored with one space in your city, relocate to another one without worrying about a binding lease or contract.  If you’re traveling the world, you can find co-working spaces in nearly any city around the world.

This is perfect if you’re trying to network either domestically or internationally, or you’re trying to move closer to your client base.  Even if you’re picking a permanent office, location is going to be one of your most important criteria.  Coworking spaces let you use that to your advantage by offering the flexibility to work anywhere. 

Downsides of Coworking Spaces

While coworking spaces might sound like the perfect tool for remote workers and people who are traveling, it isn’t all sunshine and roses.  For one thing, you don’t have any say in the people that you might be working next to.

In some cases, this might not be an issue, but you could also find yourself stuck in the office with someone you butt heads with which isn’t conducive to a productive workday. There’s also little to no privacy in these spaces, which can be exhausting after a while. 

Unlike permanent office space, you also don’t have any control over the infrastructure and amenities. If the wifi goes out or the printer runs out of toner, you have to call the company that runs the coworking space and hope they can get someone over to fix the problem before it cuts into your work hours. 

Depending on where you live, coworking spaces can be expensive in the long-term, offering little to nothing in return.  For startups or small companies that are looking for ways to save money, coworking spaces aren’t going to be your best option.

Are They Healthy For Employees?

Are coworking spaces a good idea for remote employees and the companies that support them? According to industry experts, nearly 50% of the US workforce could be working remotely by 2027, and they’ll need infrastructure like coworking spaces to support them. 

Whether they’re healthy for employees will depend on the amenities offered by the space, the needs of the employee and a thousand other variables. In general, though, having a more professional setting can help keep employees on task, giving them a better foundation to work with. 

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of things that can make a coworking space negative instead of positive. It’s up to the employee and the company to find the best coworking space or to make the best of what’s available if the former isn’t possible. Coworking spaces can be a great tool for the growing remote workforce but they aren’t the perfect solution.

Make sure you’re looking for spaces that are in good locations and offer all the amenities you need without costing too much or creating a workplace that’s detrimental to employee mental health and productivity.