We’re massive fans of coworking at The Fetch and I’ve probably worked out of ~50 spaces around the globe during the past few years. That said, coworking isn’t all roses so here’s some of our nitpicks!
1) It’s kind of expensive
We’ve seen desks going for over $700 per month in some cities, and day passes at $70-plus. If you’re new to freelancing or are a bootstrapping entrepreneur, this sure does add up! In some cities, that amount can get you an extra room in an apartment to double as your home office. When you don’t have much time to make use of the extras of a coworking space, it’s hard to compare the cost to working from home for free or for a $4 coffee at your local wifi-enabled cafe.
2) It’s hard to get shit done
Anytime I end up coworking with a friend or industry buddy, I know it means we won’t get what we need to done. Yes, it’s beautiful to collaborate and share stories about what we’re both working on – but sometimes you have deadlines, growth challenges and admin to focus on. If you’re the rare go-to person in the space (i.e. technical in a sea of creative changemakers or successfully raised funding in sea of wannapreneurs) then be prepared to get hassled. However, I have been to some spaces that are more like libraries, with little interaction – but it could be argued some of these are really ‘shared offices’, not coworking.
3) Murphy’s Law means the Internet goes down
This is a bit of a token statement as connection speeds tend to be pretty fast. When you get 100 digital-dependent addicts in a room updating their entire app library in iTunes and downloading the latest series of Homeland/Breaking Bad, the net can sometimes struggle. There’s been times when it’s gone down completely and for a fair chunk of time.
4) It’s like a gym membership without the freedom to change locations
If you’re on-the-go a fair bit for work, you’ll find a lot of the coworking membership plans unsuitable for your schedule. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just drop-in the closest space in the neighbourhood or city you’re in? Instead you have to sign up to monthly or annual plans paying for a desk in one location. It reminds me of the time I got locked into a gym membership and ended up paying $80 per visit. Fail.
5) Large businesses are nowhere to be seen
You’re sitting in a room full of like-minded small medium sized businesses, startups and freelancers. The people pulling the purse strings (i.e. likely your clients) are sitting in their level-40-in-the-sky offices down the road…
6) Successful companies outgrow the space
Startups or agencies that do well reach a certain level where coworking can no longer serve them. It’s fantastic to see of course but it means the people with the insights are siting in their new pimped-up offices down the road…
7) Choice anxiety
Across the cities we cover, it seems a new coworking space is popping up every month. It’s hard to know which will be the one to help you progress in your work. Should you go for the global brand, indie offering, startup factory, hardware hackerspace or casual rundown collective? The noisier an industry market gets, the harder it is for the great, long-term players to cut-through. Some will close down. You can have too much choice.
You think you’ve escaped office politics by leaving your job and starting your own thing? Wrong! Any group of people spending their days around each other will result in lots of interaction (and possible conflict). Just like offices, the people in your coworking space start to become your world. You follow what each other’s up to closely. Certain groups and people will bond more. It can be tight-knit and distracting from the big-picture.
9) There’s no where to have your meetings
You’ve got a special client or investor coming in last-minute and all four of your space’s meetings room are booked. You opt for the large communal table and try to combat the noise. If you want the external perception of a polished professional offering, sometimes you need a designated meeting space and your own team around.
Having said all that, we absolutely love it – it’s revolutionised the way the world works and lots of amazing peeps wouldn’t be able to do what they do without it.