Cowo…what?

April 2021

Explaining the basics of the wide-spreading but not so widely understood trend of coworking.

The popularity of coworking offices is on the rise, however, since it is a relatively new service, it happens quite often that I need to explain what it actually is.

In fact, whenever I hear a simple question „what do you do” I start typing in my mental search engine a phrase „coworking”, as I am 89% sure I will need to provide a brief definition of the concept in a moment. (I am glad I am writing this text as I will have a canned response on hand and will be able to move on to talk about the weather much quicker).

(source CoworkingResources)

All right. So, what is it, really? If you feel you don’t get this idea yet, we’ve got you. You will find the answers below. If you are familiar with coworking offices but not yet sure if this is something that will work for you - I will try to bring you closer to the answer. And if you wonder who will benefit best from coworking offices and for whom it will be more advisable to choose a micro office or a separate serviced office, check here: [a separate article]

What is this coworking thing all about?

In a nutshell, a coworking office is a piece of professional working space that you can rent. There, you will find desks, chairs, most probably conference rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom. Additionally, printers, scanners, paper shredders. A whole package. Everything you need to work in front of a computer.

Seemingly, it does not differ much from the well-known old-fashioned office buildings. So why this fancy name and the whole fuss? Coworking offices are meant for a specific group of clients: people who need a profesional space for work, who want some comfort, convenience, freeness and flexible terms of agreement. Who, by default, work from home, however due to a certain reason and at a certain time, start finding it impractical. They might be looking for a greater motivation, wish to improve their productivity, search for some face-to-face interaction or quite the opposite: they need some peace and quiet (e.g. parents of small kids).

In the pandemic times it is more obvious, as a long-term involuntary home-office starts to getting on nerves of many of us. But before the times of compulsory work from home, the percentage fo people that had been involved was way smaller. The largest groups were comprised of freelancers (self-employed people offering their services on a per-job, usually short-term basis), remote workers, e.g. for companies based in a distant city or abroad. Some of the most common industries that have their representatives in coworking areas are: IT-related businesses, PR, marketing, sales, graphic design and writing. However, it can be popular among almost any service-based game, such as translation, consulting, or photography. The idea itself was a by-product of a specific need, or rather a side-effect of dreams coming true: when you finally land the so desired remote job and can start working from home, after a while it becomes a nuisance.

Your efficiency drops, working from your bed and pulling an all-nighter becomes a common practice. You start talking to a cat, a plant, and then even to a pen and check if a sandwich got your joke. And I mean, you are sober.

Then it becomes clear that it is actually good to go out sometimes, to brush your hair and change a T-shirt.

This is why the coworking offices came into being. People who wished to work from home now want to have an office. They pay to rent a desk, they dub up with others so it is cheaper, merrier and to have some company to drink coffee with. This is how the perfect solution was invented. You can work in a place, that you truly like, that is comfortable, cosy, with welcoming and homelike ambience. You can work among people who have similar needs. You have got fellow workers who are not your bosses/reports or your team members, so you can go ahead and beef about stupid workflows.

You go there for work but it also feels somewhat like a party, since there are people around you that are your buddies (real ones), mates, even friends, whose company you enjoy, and if you don’t - you simply do not have to bother. There is no need to quibble about a deadline, and to avoid this guy from your team because they need something from you and now they see you having a fourth coffee break.

Long story short, a coworking office is a cooler, pimped-up workspace that you rent wth other fellow nice remote workers who have similar needs.

Should You Try Coworking?

The coworking solution comes with numerous advantages, but there is no guarantee it will suit you too. Coworking offices may differ a lot and even a tiny detail may impact your comfort. Luckily, when it comes to coworking, you are not forced to make a blind guess and sign a long-term contract (and it is often a case with the traditional office spaces).

It is always a good advice to arrange for a test day at the coworking of your potential choice. One day of testing is, of course, not much, but it may be enough to spot things that may not go well with you. You can decide if the ambience seems OK, if a desk and a chair are comfortable. Also, due to the fact that the agreements are usually flexible and the notice of termination is mostly short (2-4 weeks), it is not like you are betting your life. At the worst you will lose a couple hundreds (that you can add to company’s expenses anyway) and go back to your previous work style.

Karolina Kondrak

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