Head to Head: Coworking Space vs. Traditional Office Space

If you’re new to the coworking world, you might be thinking to yourself “What’s so great about a coworking space?  Can’t I just lease a traditional office space and call it a day?”  Well, while you could do that, it’s helpful to know the pros and cons of coworking spaces vs. traditional office spaces to understand which will be more beneficial for your business.


The Advantages of Coworking Spaces

Now we aren’t being biased – coworking spaces really do have many advantages that make them a great option for those who want to get out of the home office or coffee shop.


·      Affordability:  One of the biggest advantages that coworking spaces offer is their affordability.  If you’ve looked into renting an office from a traditional office space for your startup team, for example, then you know that they can be a bit pricey.  Coworking spaces often offer various membership types at more affordable price points, which means that everyone from freelancers to teams can find a space that fits their budget.

·      Flexibility:  Coworking spaces offer plenty of membership flexibility as well.  Traditional office spaces require multi-year contracts in order to lease, which can be scary for businesses that don’t know if they’ll grow into or even outgrow their office in that time.  Coworking spaces often operate on month-to-month memberships:  if for some reason you outgrow your current membership or discover coworking just isn’t your thing, you aren’t locked into a long-term contract.  Coworking spaces also come with the ability to upgrade your membership (and your office space) if you find your team needs more room.

·      Community and Networking:  For freelancers and remote workers, it’s tough to beat the community that coworking provides.  Working remotely can be a pretty lonely business, but coworking spaces come with a community of other likeminded freelancers, entrepreneurs, remote workers, and startups that is lacking if you rent a traditional office by yourself.  Along that same vein, there are also plenty of networking opportunities to be had in coworking spaces.  You never know what new business opportunities may arise over a coworking coffee break or chance meeting in the hallway.

·      Variety:  Coworking spaces have a variety of membership and space options that can work for everyone from freelancers to startup teams.  Just need a shared desk?  Check.  Need a private office for one?  Check.  How about an office for you and your team?  Check.  If you just need a business address, many coworking spaces offer private business mailbox services too.


The Disadvantages of Coworking Spaces

While coworking has plenty of perks, there are some downsides depending on your team’s needs.


·      Limited Space:  Depending on the coworking space you choose, you may be limited as to what space is available to you if your team needs to upgrade.  While most spaces will try to be as accommodating as possible, some simply don’t have the room to house larger teams.  If you foresee your team growing rapidly, this is important to consider when deciding between a coworking space and traditional office space.

·      Distractions:  If you’re used to working from home, a coworking space can provide a lot of potential distractions that come from working in close quarters with others.  For some, the noise of other members can make it hard to concentrate.  And when working in a fairly open environment like a coworking space, you have to be considerate of your officemates:  no long phone calls in open areas.

·      Lack of Privacy:  Depending on your membership type, you may also have less privacy than you would be afforded in a traditional office space.  If your business often deals with sensitive information or you would simply like a quieter area to work, it’s important to examine the membership options your local coworking spaces provide to see if they match the atmosphere you’re looking for.


The Advantages of Traditional Office Space

Traditional office spaces can have their advantages for some businesses too, and there are a few things you should consider when comparing them to coworking spaces.

·      Size:  If you have a larger team, a traditional office space might be more useful for you, depending on the coworking space options in your area.  Many coworking spaces just don’t have the capacity to accommodate private offices for sizeable teams.

·      Stability:  Traditional office spaces are also good options if you know you’ll be there for the foreseeable future.  If you plan on building your team, providing a stable environment in which they can do their best work is important.  Uprooting your employees and moving each time you outgrow your coworking space will cause unnecessary disruptions to your team’s work life.

·      Privacy:  By renting an office from a traditional office space, you guarantee extra privacy.  You won’t be sharing the space with other businesses, and depending on your work style, this makes a huge difference in your productivity.


The Disadvantages of Traditional Office Space

Traditional office space does come with some disadvantages that are crucial to consider when looking for your own office.

·      Expensive:  One of the biggest disadvantages of traditional office spaces is their cost.  Simply put, unless you do have a sizeable team or plan on adding employees in the immediate future, a traditional office space is often too costly for a freelancer or smaller startup team to justify, especially if you live in a major metro and want an office close to downtown.

·      Lack of Flexibility:  Traditional office space leases are not the most flexible, and if you need to leave your office for whatever reason, it can be difficult.  Those multi-year contracts we mentioned earlier make increasing or decreasing the amount of space you’re renting pretty hard.  Just think of it like renting an apartment – once you’re locked into a lease, there’s not much you can do about it if your needs change, short of breaking said lease.

·      Isolated:  Isolation is a big disadvantage for freelancers and remote workers when it comes to renting an office from a traditional office space.  It can be hard to meet any of your fellow tenants when you work in a private office alone, and if you work alone day in and day out, a sense of community is likely important to you.


At the end of the day, it’s crucial for you to sit down and really compare specific coworking spaces to specific traditional office spaces in your area to see which will work better for your business and budget.  Coworking isn’t for everyone, just like a traditional office space won’t work for everyone, so use this guide as a way to help assess what is most important to you in order for your business to thrive.