The benefits of coworking spaces have been enumerated by many a writer. They’re a low-cost, high-flexibility alternative to a traditional office lease, and they often come bundled with the kind of perks you’d expect from an over-funded startup’s office.
Yet office subleasing remains a popular alternative. Many startups choose to rent a desk or a room from an existing company’s lease, the same way you might rent a room in someone’s apartment if you’re new in town and you’re not ready to commit to a 12-month lease. This approach offers the same basic benefits of coworking: affordability and flexibility. How are you supposed to choose between the options? Let’s go over the pro and cons of each to find out.
1) Is price the biggest factor?
Price is the main reason you’d consider a coworking space or a sublease in the first place. A private, custom-designed office would be ideal in most ways, but for a startup, the money is best spent on growth.
Here’s the thing: if price is the biggest factor and you don’t care where you work, you might as well go for a coworking space. The fancier coworking spaces like WeWork might be pricey, but if you’re willing to settle for less, you can find coworking spaces for the same price as office subleases.
In other words, office subleases don’t offer a significant enough price benefit over cheap coworking spaces, and they generally offer fewer benefits. All else being equal, you might as well go for a coworking space and have the opportunity to use whatever amenities it offers you.
2) Do you like peace and quiet?
Most coworking spaces give you the option to work by yourself, but private rooms always cost more, and the common areas are inherently social. Even if you’re keeping to yourself, you’ll never be able to completely tune out your surroundings in a coworking space.
In a shared office, on the other hand, you only have one other tenant to deal with. If the company you’re sharing with likes to keep quiet too, then you’re in luck. Because there are fewer people involved, shared offices are only as social as you make them. You can easily find an office space with a startup that’s as keen to keep to themselves as you are.
This might be the biggest advantage that office subleases offer over coworking spaces. Privacy and quiet are expensive commodities in coworking.
Winner: Office Sublease
3) Is networking important?
The answer to this question will depend on where you are in your business. Networking is important to everyone on some level, but sometimes it’s more important than others.
If you’re focused on building out your product and testing it with users, you probably don’t have to worry as much about networking. On the other hand, if you’re already operational and your marketing/sales team is constantly on the lookout for press, influencers, and high-profile clients, then you want to be as close to your industry as possible.
Without a doubt, coworking beats office subleases when it comes to networking. The sheer number of people present is already a plus, and then there’s the after-work events on top of that. In comparison, sharing an office only gives you a chance to interact with one or two other companies at most, and they may not be in your field.
In the end, your decision will depend on your priorities. On average, coworking wins out over office sharing, simply because it’s around the same price yet it tends to offer more. If the social aspect of coworking is important to you, whether professionally or personally, then it’s not even a contest. Coworking is worth it.
Even so, there are specific cases where renting a desk or a room in another company’s office is a better option. If you can find an office sublease for cheap, then go for it—price is the biggest benefit these spaces have to offer.
In particular, if you want privacy and quiet time on the cheap, you might have better luck in a small shared office that offers private space. Open work spaces are the enemy of peace and quiet, so steer clear of coworking spaces and business centers that offer primarily large open space. Either way, the important thing is to pick the office setup that makes sense for you.
This is a guest blog post by Stefan Bhagwandin with shareyouroffice.com
Stefan is a content writer and marketer at Share Your Office. He follows startup culture, media, and technology.
If you actually like the day to day grind of going to work you might be in the minority. A Gallup poll from two years ago suggests that only 13% of people worldwide get up in the morning and cherish the idea of wrestling through rush hour to get to the office. People are disengaged, unmotivated and unfulfilled.
Could it be something in the office environment itself that is putting people off? A survey last summer by FlexJobs revealed that 76% would avoid the office completely if they had an especially important task to complete. This would suggest that despite being the “workplace” employees are more creative and productive somewhere else.
Research by the same group also suggests that flexible work arrangements where the employee is not strictly required to be at the office can improve health, personal relationships and overall happiness.
Maybe we’ve got the concept of work completely wrong?
A new infographic from BargainFox ans SavvyBeaver Canada explores the “remote work revolution” and the ways in which people are turning the 9 to 5 office concept on its head.
If you chart the history of “the office,” as soon as the technology was invented for people to do the same tasks remotely, that’s exactly what they chose to do. In the late 70s through the 80s the concept of telecommuting and the introduction of branch offices allowed workers a more convenient way of getting things done away from the main headquarters. As we entered the 90s and the internet, email and personal computers became widespread, employees left the branch offices and did more of their work from home.
Meanwhile a parallel group of skilled workers took the concept to its logical conclusion and became freelancers, offering their services to multiple companies from the comfort of their own home offices.
In 1990 around 5% of the US population classed themselves as freelancers. By the year 2000 this had quickly risen to 15%, and today it’s closer to 30%. The rise of faster internet connections, powerful home computing and mobile devices is directly correlated.
It’s therefore quite clear. People don’t want to work at a designated workplace and if the opportunity for remote work came about they’d likely take it and be happier because of it.
The Digital Nomad Revolution
Many companies are now offering flexible hours and remote work to their employees, either as a formal policy or at their discretion. Telecommuting has more than doubled in the last 10 years. However there is a sub-section of this trend, mainly emerging out of the tech and web based industries, that is embracing remote work in the very foundations of their business.
Check the whole infographic here.
As shown in the infographic, website BuzzFeed and travel service Airbnb have half of their workforces doing their jobs entirely out of the office. Automattic, the $317 million developer behind the WordPress blogging platform have no in-office employees at all. They don’t even have an office. Their office is Google Hangouts and their own internal chat room. They are what is known as “fully distributed” and they tout a number of benefits to this structure.
“This has been amazing for the company in that we can attract and retain the best talent without them having to be in New York or San Francisco or one of the traditional tech centers,” explained Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg in an interview with Glenn Leibowitz.
He also told Forbes: “All of the money we save on office space, we blow on travel costs.”
Travel is an integral part of the modern remote worker’s lifestyle both for the work itself and their own leisure. They call themselves digital nomads, people who leverage technology beyond the home office and take their work on the go. After all with cheap internet access virtually anywhere in the world and the ability to do most tasks on a mid-range laptop or tablet, why would you stay at home? The philosophy of freedom from the office is quickly evolving into freedom from the home as well.
Digital nomads encompass a range of skill levels and positions which also affects the type of nomadic path they choose. The average freelance blogger or graphic designer may opt for a minimalist lifestyle, travelling to places like Thailand and renting basic rooms to keep costs low. Living in Bali, Indonesia instead of London for example will save you thousands in monthly expenses. It’s not uncommon for people to become nomads in cheaper parts of the world in order to amass savings or pay down existing debts quicker. The culture and experiences are an added bonus.
Check the whole infographic here.
Others may take the minimalist route in the beginning while they work on a tech startup and hope to become more lavish once it takes off. Some nomads are already business owners and leverage their wealth and technology to network and party globally with other successful leaders, rarely living from a home base.
Leading digital nomad Pieter Levels believes that with the exponential advancement in travel and technology that the digital nomad lifestyle will soon be the norm. By 2035 he predicts 1 billion people will be leaving the office and even their home behind.
Flights are going to be faster and cheaper. New modes of transport such as Elon Musk’s Hyperloop might take us between cities like LA and San Francisco in just 45 minutes, and he even has his eye on space travel!
Many companies are also developing apps and tools to aid nomads on their travels. Teleport and Nomadlist help people find the best cities for their budget and circumstances, Horn and Sqwiggle provide great team chat solutions, and Slack and Timedoctor can keep you focussed and engaged when that self discipline is slipping.
There is also aspects of the growing sharing and cooperative economies emerging in the digital nomad community. Even though the traditional office is behind them there is still a need for work-focussed environments with added tech and resources. This is where coworking spaces come in. From huts with wifi on the beach to full blown state of the art complexes, with conference rooms, computers and leisure & relaxation facilities – nomads are opening up unique spots all over the world where others can pass through on their travels.
This is even evolving into coliving. When people are constantly travelling from city to city and country to country, it would be nice to have somewhere familiar and free to stay with like minded people. This is the concept behind startup Caravanserai which aims to be an online hub for such places.
Maybe one day in the not too distant future the majority of us may actually like working!
This is a guest post written by Georgi Georgiev, digital nomad and Bali’s resident. Georgi about himself:
I only own 2 suitcases, a fully stamped passport, a small part of a start-up business and a college degree. I am passionate about building companies, marketing and learning foreign languages. I also code a little. Previously I worked for Techstars in London, UK. Currently, I invest and build start-ups with Potential.vc in Asia. Went to Lund University in Sweden and Rollins in Florida, USA. My current location: Bali, Indonesia.
© John Benson – CC 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/j_benson/
There are many possible avenues. Which one is the best? It all depends on where you are and what level of the service you expect.
One of the biggest, and probably the oldest, directory for free coworking is Coworking Visa, with more than 450 spaces, offering free access with varied conditions. Coworking Visa allows active members of one coworking space to use other spaces around the world for free for a set number of days (3 is the default). Since the list is huge, you should always make sure in advance that the chosen space still accepts Coworking Visa. You may end up with a disappointing experience, like my ownwith one of the biggest coworking spaces in Berlin, where I arrived during my short trip, already behind schedule on my work. No one knew they were listed as a Coworking Visa partner, and I ended up paying 15 EUR, instead of using one of many other Berlin spaces for free. This is just an example of a bad luck and lack of planning, so you should definitely try Visa’s database and Coworking Wiki, of which Visa is only one part.
If you need something more unified, check Coworking Pass by Startuptravels.com. They have more than 30 coworking spaces all over the world, which offer 3 days for free. However, to use it you need to be an active member of Startuptravels.com, with the requirement of having acquired at least 3 new members for this platform (by sharing “your” registration link).
Last but not least, most coworking spaces offer at least one day’s free trial. Use copass.org, startupblink.com, desknear.me, or sharedesk.net, ask for your free coworking day. These websites work well in most countries, though they are not very accurate in Poland. letscowork.pl has probably the best coverage in Poland. Obviously, you will us in all the aforementioned places.