Coworking spaces like WeWork are for remote teams and freelance workers what the cubicle has been to the most boring types of companies in the “good ‘ol days” – a helpful space to get more work done, albeit put into practice in totally different ways. They’re super-trendy, they’re everywhere, and they’re on a mission to make workspaces more awesome.
As a completely remote team operating our virtual office, we’re big fans of being able to get out of our home offices every once in a while and into new places that promote productivity and community. Coworking spaces, however amazing, can have their downsides, too. Below I’ll break down the pros and cons of many coworking sites.
Basically located everywhere.
Living in the Bay Area, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a number of different WeWork locations. I can get antsy working at home for too many days in a row, so it’s great to be able to quickly change things up and reserve some space in Berkeley, Oakland, or different parts of San Francisco. Added bonus: hopping WeWorks means a different after work happy hour spot. Every. Damn. Time.
To be fair, I’m more of an introvert myself, so while I don’t regularly attend strict “networking” events for marketing professionals and the like, I’m always meeting new and interesting people around the kitchen and lounge areas. From all specialties, nationalities, and backgrounds, I’ve met wonderful CEO’s, developers, designers, writers, scientists, researchers, and so many others just by filling up my coffee mug.
Unlimited drinks and treats.
Honestly, they had me at “free coffee,” but WeWork offers so much more than just that. Beyond constant, piping hot coffee (thank whatever Gods may exist), the spaces offer up fruit-infused water on every level, beer on tap (even local stuff!), and frequent brunch-type spreads that have me skipping breakfast at home more often than not. They certainly know how to make a lady feel hydrated and caffeinated all day long.
Pretty affordable for infrequent users.
We’re scrappy and like to keep costs down to a minimum. I’m also lazy and love to work in the mornings from the comfort of my own sweatpants. So, this works for me when I want to get some “office time” without breaking the company bank. It’s also cheaper than other similar coworking spaces in my area, but with the added benefit of more pleasant atmosphere and more location options across the Bay Area.
Good for shaking up the scenery.
If you flip open any trendy design magazine these days, there are probably a dozen items in any given WeWork lounge that you could point out. While different from location to location, the aesthetic of every coworking space is very clean, open and warm, all of which are very conducive to a great work environment. Plus, getting stuck in a home office for too long can wear thin on your creative juices; heading to a place with completely different scenery is just plain good for your brain.
My god, the music.
Music is one of my all-time favorite tools for getting un-stuck, plowing through projects, and responding to emails. It becomes a distraction, however, when it’s repeated over and over (and over) again. While admittedly catchy at first, it became clear quickly that coworking spaces recycle their playlists way too often. Like a bad radio station, they pump pop music and indie songs into my head every minute of the day – sometimes even in the bathroom stalls. A word to the wise: bring noise-canceling headphones.
Phone booth hogs a-plenty.
Seeing as I’m a nomad, often going to multiple locations, I don’t have a single home base or office while I’m there to take calls from. WeWork has single-serving phone booths to help with these limitations, which is great, but there are frequently people who take advantage of the booth time limits, putting a strain on the rest of us. This isn’t as big of a problem in larger facilities, but for smaller locations with fewer booths, it can create a lot of issues.
Zero privacy (with the basic plan).
Open offices are all the rage, but the convenience of an open office can be overshadowed by the intense lack of privacy that it comes with. I’m restricted to the lounge areas only with the basic plan, so I’m placed near the kitchen area, games, and lobby, with people filtering in and out, often talking loudly. I’m all for having a good time, but it’s hard to stick to a deadline with constant, raised laughter coming in through your headphones. (Again, I reiterate: get noise-canceling ones if you can).
Two-on-two and other group games are great for a break after a long meeting or brainstorm, but not so great for being forced to sit right next to. In some WeWork offices, it’s ping pong (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to toss a ball back to someone with a beer in their hand while trying to craft up some content), in some it’s fooseball (don’t even get me started about that whack-whack-whacking). No matter the game, though, you’re in for flying pieces and bouts of loudness.
Personal space (or lack thereof).
Separate from just lack of privacy overall is the issue of personal space. Picture me, cozied up into a nice section of the couch next to the window, productive as ever; in walks someone on a cold call, talking loudly into their headset, coming out of their office to give their colleagues some room while they talk. They sit right next to me, no bother that I’m also talking to clients via online chat. Of course, these problems are common for open-space offices, but can you blame a woman for wanting a little courtesy space?
All ranting aside, we love WeWork (and other coworking spaces) and all of the flexibility they provide us. Do you have any remote working stories to share (positive or negative)? We’re listening in the comments below!