What do you do when you work at home, but you don’t want to work AT home on a particular day? The coffee shop is the traditional answer for many people. You get your coffee, you get your wifi, and a little bit of socialization. So long as the coffee shop doesn’t mind you hanging around, it’s a pretty good deal.
But have you considered a coworking space? It costs more than going to a coffee shop, but it has a lot of advantages too. Let’s take a look at a coworking space vs. coffee shop so that you can decide which is better for your needs.
The Coffee Shop
Coffee shops have long been the choice for teleworkers who need to get out of the house for a while, but want to keep working. The free wifi and easy access to coffee and snacks, makes it a highly appealing place to work when you don’t have to be glued to your home office.
Even if you don’t chat with other customers, it’s a little bit of human contact, which many work at home parents need. You can even bring your kids if necessary, although bringing children means you probably won’t stay to work as long. Coffee shops aren’t made for little kids to sit around at very often, and there’s only so long that their tablets can keep them well enough behaved.
On the minus side, you’re taking up space the coffee shop may need for other customers, and they may not like it if you stay too long without additional purchases. Most people recommend that you make a purchase every couple hours at least.
You shouldn’t make a lot of phone calls or do other noisy work while working in a coffee shop. You’ll annoy the other patrons, and it’s rude. These are things you should be doing elsewhere.
Meeting quietly with a client or coworker at a coffee shop isn’t too bad, so long as you aren’t disrupting the other patrons, and you have each purchased something.
A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be louder than the other patrons. If the shop tends to be quiet, your phone calls will be more resented than if there are a lot of people already chatting. Of course, a louder shop also makes it harder to hear the other person on the call, not to mention the background noise they may get. There’s a balance you should find.
Above all else, respect that the coffee shop is a business, and you’re using their facilities.
The Coworking Space
A coworking space costs more to use than a coffee shop, but it has a lot of advantages. It can be worthwhile to use one at times. Some work at home employers offer a stipend to use a coworking space.
The first thing to do when considering a coworking space is to see if they offer a free one day trial. Many do, and you should use it before you consider whether you want to use the space more often. This gives you a chance to meet the other people who use the space. You’ll get a feel for if the culture there is what you want. They should at least offer a tour if they don’t have a free trial.
You might be surprised by how affordable a coworking space can be. I took a look at the website of a local coworking space, called The Orange Space. I’m not going to quote prices, as these vary so much from coworking space to coworking space. A day pass may not far off from what you might spend in a day at the coffee shop. Coworking spaces may offer part time and full time memberships available too. If you used this kind of space regularly, it could come out cheaper than going to the coffee shop.
Plus this one, at least, includes coffee and tea. You’ll have to bring your own snacks.
Costs will vary quite a bit depending on your area. I saw prices ranging from $12 for a single day pass, up to the $500 range for a dedicated, full time desk. Prices get higher if you need a space for a team, but I considered what an individual might pay. Several places had monthly plans starting at $100 per month, which is very reasonable. A few go higher for individuals than $500/month, but those are in expensive areas.
You definitely don’t want to bring your kids to a coworking space. It’s a professional space, and the other people working won’t appreciate the distraction, even if the kids are mostly good. Many coworking spaces do not allow children at all.
A few coworking spaces offer childcare as well, which is great if that’s a problem you’re facing. It costs extra to use the childcare, of course, but if you need that help it’s a great convenience. Collab&Play is one such company.
The great part about coworking spaces is that everyone else is there for the same reason – to work! While you may chat with the other people working there, you all have the goal of having a productive day. Still, coworking gives you a great chance to network and connect with other remote workers in your area.
Which Is Better?
When considering a coworking space vs. coffee shop, it may not be clear which is better for your needs.
If your use will be rare and you don’t care about networking with other professionals, you may as well stick to the coffee shop for those days that you need to get out of the house. Libraries may be a good choice too.
On the other hand, if you like getting out of the house to work often, and enjoy the ability to network with other professionals, go for the coworking space if it’s in your budget. Take a look at the ones available in your area, and try out the ones that look good to you. See if they’re a fit. So long as you don’t need anything fancy in your coffee, many of them include that. You won’t even miss out on your caffeine.
These aren’t your only choices for places to work when you work at home. You have a lot more options. But both coworking spaces and coffee shops are popular due to the advantages they have to offer.