Workplace wars: Coworking space vs traditional office
Engagement 5 minute read

Workplace wars: Coworking space vs traditional office

Andra Mircioiu | August 6, 2020

Who’s it going to be: the coworking space vs traditional office? Both have their merits.

Coworking spaces are a lower-cost alternative to the traditional office or local coffee shop. They can offer a private office where you can meet with clients or large, open-concept working spaces where teams can collaborate. Most have a multitude of office-like amenities including meeting rooms, communal kitchens and a good number of coffee machines. 

With COVID-19 forcing many companies to cut costs and reallocate spending, coworking spaces may see a rise in popularity soon—or even become the new headquarters for some organizations. 

The 2020 Global Coworking Growth Study estimates that “almost 5 million people will be working from coworking spaces by 2024, an increase of 158% compared to 2020.” The study also found that: “The global average price per desk dropped by 2.14% between 2019 and 2020, which illustrates the increasing supply of new flexible offices, as well as how higher competition is leading to even more affordable options for companies and professionals.” 

By analyzing Google search trends, the team behind the Global Coworking Growth Study predicts that, post-COVID, “coworking will become even more mainstream, especially since companies are shifting to remote-first workforces. Demand will mainly come from larger organizations and enterprises looking to decentralize their workforces into smaller branch offices and remote teams into private flex offices.” 

If you’ve been considering switching all or part of your workforce to a coworking space in the near future, this article breaks down the differences between a coworking space vs traditional office, how to evaluate a coworking space for your specific business needs, and what the data says when it comes to productivity in coworking spaces. 

Coworking space vs traditional office

Coworking spaces are shared office spaces that offer a collaborative work environment and a sense of community. They offer your employees a wealth of networking opportunities and a way to connect in-person with employees in similar roles from other organizations. 

Remote workers who struggle with working from home can positively thrive in a coworking space. A study undertaken by Harvard Business Review found “that people who belong to [coworking spaces] report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices”. 

One of the reasons for the high level of thriving? Flexible work hours. 

Unlike the traditional office, coworking spaces are often open 24/7, giving employees who are working remotely the option to split their day and adjust their schedule to work longer hours or start earlier—the same flexibility that working at home might offer, only in a professional setting free of other distractions and at-home responsibilities. 

Tips for choosing a coworking space

A 2019 study by Coworker (as reported in a Coworking Insights article) found that SMEs (small to medium enterprises) account for 37.93% of all coworking space users. The second highest demographic is startup teams, at 27.12%. Freelancers only account for 16.61%.

It’s also interesting to note that remote workers (both entrepreneurs and corporate) account together for 13.17%, a number that’s only likely to increase in the next few years. 

If you want to find a space for your remote employees, here are a few things to consider when evaluating available coworking spaces. 

1. Proximity to transit

As they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Narrow down your search of coworking spaces by finding those near public transit and with good parking options in the area. 

2. Budget

Renting “hot desks” (common workspaces shared by many individuals) is typically cheaper than renting assigned dedicated desks or private offices. However, most coworking spaces allow month-to-month rent so you can always upgrade as needed. 

3. The work environment

Does your company have any legal or regulatory requirements when it comes to data privacy or proprietary information? If so, you may have to consider renting lockable private offices in a coworking space to satisfy those requirements. Do you require meeting rooms or conference rooms on short notice? That’s also something to consider. 

4. Community

Some coworking spaces are geared towards certain types of professionals, i.e. designers, coders, writers. Ask the community managers at each coworking space for a breakdown of the professionals that frequently use the space to figure out if it’s a good fit for your team. 

5. Future planning

If your organization has expansion plans in the near future or would like to explore the possibility of non-local remote workers, look for a coworking space that has a network of locations available to you nationally or even internationally. 

6. Amenities

Last but not least, amenities are an important perk of coworking spaces. Most offer wi-fi, coffee and printing as part of the rent but might have other unique and enticing amenities such as sit-stand desks or individual work pods.

For ideas and inspiration, check out Flare Magazine’s roundup of the coolest coworking spaces across Canada

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