Coworking spaces, good or bad? Do you have to be a certain type of person to thrive in a coworking space? To be honest I thought the answer to that was yes, and what’s more, I wasn’t one of those people.
While I wouldn’t call myself unsociable exactly, (I do have friends after all).
I don’t think I need people outside my family and close friends, and for three and a half years I’ve been very happy working from home by myself. I’m lucky to have a dedicated room to work in, I don’t have to clear the dining room table every evening when I finish work.
It’s ideal walking down the stairs, turning left and there’s my office, no scraping the ice off the car, not commute round the M11, no listening to office gossip and my boss’s bad jokes.
Has all that changed? No, not really, but increasingly I’ve found myself staring out of the window in a daydream, getting up to make my 5th cup of coffee and watching cat videos on YouTube, yes I know!
And although having other people around when you’re working can be a distraction, it turns out that having no one can also be a distraction at certain times. No one to distract you from the 5th cup of coffee or the cat videos.
So, after years of thinking and saying that coworking spaces weren’t for me, I started to wonder if I should give them a try if only to prove my own theory.
But where to start? Time was when the local Costa (much to their annoyance) was seen as a coworking space. You know, those people who bought one coffee and sat at a prime table all day banging away at their laptops.
But as we all know times have changed, and proper, serviced coworking spaces are a thing. So, I thought I’d start big and try out one of the larger companies.
I’m not about to name them all because this isn’t about how good or bad they are, it’s not a recommendation or the opposite of any of these places, it’s about coworking as a concept.
The one owned by the large nationwide company had good facilities, was clean, modern and dog-friendly. There were even showers for those who cycle to work or want to go out after work without having to go home first.
For £600 per month, you can have a ‘dedicated desk’ which means it’s yours (you can bring a PC and a plant) for as long as you pay.
Alternatively, you can ‘hot desk’ for £450 per month which means you don’t get to choose your desk, you take what’s available and you have to take your stuff away with you every time you leave.
There was nothing really to complain about, but it was all a bit soulless and because it was a vast space no one seemed to be interacting which I suppose is the whole point of coworking.
The second place was a woman only coworking space.
Now, I’ve never been sure about same-sex networking, events, clubs, etc. What is the point of them? I’m still not sure, and although this may be controversial I still think that ‘all women’ concepts are not taken as seriously as they should be.
In my opinion, they are seen by some as ‘a gathering of the girls’ which here was far from the truth as there were obviously serious businesswomen using the space, and frankly, you needed to be serious to pay the monthly fees.
Although the décor was great and the facilities exceptional, even without the eyewatering amount of money you have to cough up, this wasn’t for me. I’ll be honest I felt out of place, not part of the well-manicured clique.
The last space I tried was a local company who have renovated a small warehousy space, but not so warehouse like that it felt empty.
They had a small kitchen with plenty of utensils, good coffee, comfortable sofas and decent desks with plenty of charging points and essential high-speed WIFI. No showers but that didn’t interest me in any case.
The monthly payments were affordable the other workers were friendly but not intrusive and if I was going use a coworking space this would probably be it.
But arriving home slightly foot weary with an ache in my shoulder from carrying my laptop, I made myself a cup of coffee in my favourite mug, chose a chocolate biscuit from my vast selection and sat down at my own desk feeling glad to be home.
Coworking spaces are certainly becoming more popular so they must suit lots of people, and I can see the attraction if your home is noisy, you have no dedicated space or you get lonely. But I’ve tried it and, at the moment, I’m still happy working from home.