Working from home vs coworking? We look at the pros and cons of each way of working to help you decide the best location for your business.
Traditional offices may soon become merely a memory, as homeworking and shared coworking spaces become the market’s hottest commodities. Just prior to the pandemic, warnings of a regional office space crunch had been buzzing around for a year or so. It was all down to very little new space emerging, while leasing had reached its highest point in the last five years.
The pandemic accelerated the shift to home-based working for everyone. Increasing numbers of small businesses and freelancers had already been taking the step to set up at home or in shared spaces. Now more than ever before, for industries that can accommodate it, flexible working is the future, giving you and your employees the freedom they want.
Evolving businesses are finding they have to look beyond traditional private office space and explore more flexible options. But what’s best, collaborative coworking or working from home?
Creative coworking space
Coworking spaces are taking off across the land, as the demand for affordable office space rises (anyone else’s rates making them sweat?) and the business world continues a trend towards collaboration.
These are the places where several businesses share a premises – or even desks within a single office space. They’re particularly popular with start-up entrepreneurs, who often like to network and discuss strategies with like-minded individuals.
The business benefit is that co-working spaces are flexible and low-risk. Most offer easy-in, easy-out terms – usually one month’s notice. Affordable coworking spaces for startups with 24/7 access are usually also fully serviced, including internet, cleaning and security. Some offer complementary tea and coffee.
These creative co-working communities have sprung up in clusters across Britain’s entrepreneurial hotspots, with companies like Be Offices expanding out from London to Birmingham, Bristol, Belfast and beyond. Increasingly they are appearing in towns and even villages as well.
Coworking can be great for escaping the isolation of working from home. There are colleagues on tap and opportunities for collaboration with other freelancers. You also get a professional business address and location to meet clients and partners.
On the downside though, it can be an expensive solution. Though most spaces will have a variety of options, including part-time and even virtual tenancy. Watch out for noise levels too; while most people are respectful, half a dozen businesses on the phone at the same time can be pretty distracting. Noise reducing headphones are generally a must.
Working from home
Despite the popularity of co-working spaces, homeworking is at an all-time high. More than 4.2 million Brits now work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Not too surprising really. It’s brilliantly flexible for anyone juggling a busy home and work life, there’s zero commute (unless you count the steps from bed to desk) and there’s usually a lack of interruption, meaning huge potential for productivity. And shhh don’t tell anyone, but an added bonus is that you can also work from bed if you fancy, just get yourself a cushioned lap tray and you’re all set!
For employers, it means you’re not limited to recruiting to a specific radius, giving you more scope to find the perfect person. Not to mention the cut in workforce costs, such as office rates, utilities and commuter fees.
Take the rose-tinted glasses off though and you’ll see that it isn’t always such an ideal option. In fact, working from home can be isolating and a little lonely.
Staff may miss the banter with colleagues and the opportunity to mix with new and exciting people. Some also find it blurs the line between work and home, so you slip into the trap of working 24/7.
When it comes to working from home, there are three golden rules:
- Only work in an assigned space; not your bed or your sofa. Go for a desk.
- Vary your surroundings every so often, before you go insane and start talking to the walls.
- Give yourself a break. It’s easy to forget when you don’t have a mate urging you to pop out to lunch. Everyone needs a rest, even those working from home.
Let’s not avoid the elephant in the room. As an employer, it takes a lot of trust to allow employees to work remotely, without supervision. But if you have a team that is motivated, dedicated, and willing to go the extra mile to see the company succeed, it can be a great idea.
Speaking for myself, I’m fortunate enough to work in a co-working space, with clients who don’t mind where I am based.
I stay home when I really need to fire through tasks like there’s no tomorrow, tripling my workload as there are no distractions!
But as a sociable creature, craving interaction and friendships with colleagues, I’m usually in the office.
The best thing is the balance – and the autonomy to choose.
So, what do you think? Have you made up your mind about working from home vs coworking? Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Ultimately, it depends on your personal style.