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The Beginner’s Guide to Coworking Spaces

For freelancers, startup entrepreneurs, and solo practitioners, coworking spaces give you all the amenities and professionalism of an office without the high price of an office lease.

If you’ve ever worked from a home office, you know how frequently life interrupts work. While writing this intro, I’ve done the following things: grabbed a snack for my son, signed for a package from the mailman, and thrown a quick load of laundry into the wash. The freedom of working from home can be a godsend, but when a project needs extra focus or you need to meet with a client, you may want a space that is for work and only work.

Luckily, shared offices are cropping up everywhere. They range from quiet cubicles to gadget-heavy rooms straight out of a Silicon Valley episode. If you’d like to give coworking a try but are overwhelmed by the options, here’s a great place to start:

kaboompics_Young woman working in a cafe (1)How much do coworking spaces cost?

It varies by city, but most shared offices offer monthly subscriptions that fall into one of three categories: a “hot desk,” a dedicated desk, or a private office. Some coworking spaces also offer desks on a pay-as-you-go model. All of these options are usually accessible 24/7.

 

  • Hot desk. “Hot desks” refer to any seat available when you come in, sometimes in an open, common area. These typically go for $150 to $250 per month but can get as high as $450 a month in the trendier, upscale neighborhoods (think Manhattan). These are perfect for freelancers who just need to get out of the house once in awhile to reap the benefits of a distraction-free office environment.
  • Reserved desks. If you have pretty steady hours or frequent client meetings, reserved desks have the advantage of being yours and yours alone. The subscription fees for these range from $350 to $450 per month.
  • Private office. For the full office experience, many coworking spaces offer private offices for you or your team. This can get as high as $1,000 per month in places like New York City, but you can find them as low as $500 to to $700 in less metropolitan areas.
  • Pay-as-you-go. These are less common, as most coworking spaces earn their profit from subscription fees. When you do find them, they’re likely to be around $50 a day, with a little extra for a conference room or other add-ons. They’re great for travelers.

What should I look for in a coworking space?

Nearly all coworking spaces give you the option of stopping by and checking the place out before committing to a monthly fee. I highly recommend taking them up on the offer. Here are a few things to look for when giving them a test run.

  • Atmosphere. How does it feel when you first walk in? Is it humming with collaborators and networkers? Or is everyone keeping to themselves and focusing on the task at hand? More importantly, does it align with your work style? You want to make sure you can work well with the vibe and noise level of the place. Try stopping by at different times of the day or week to see how it fluctuates.
  • Amenities. Find out what’s included with your subscription. Is there a printer, copy machine, and office supplies if you need them? How about private booths in case you need to discuss sensitive information with a client? How fast and secure is the WiFi? Is there a kitchen?
  • Location. Of course convenience will be your first priority when scouting out a location, but check out the surrounding neighborhood as well. Any nice eateries nearby to take potential clients? Or even a coffees shop or park for when you need a break. Don’t forget, a thriving neighborhood will go miles towards making a great impression on your clientele.

How do I find one?

Aside from Googling “coworking spaces near me,” there are websites designed to find nearby coworking spaces. Both Desks Near Me and ShareDesk let you search according to location, display the pricing in the search results, and allow you to book from their websites. You can even filter your search results based on amenities available. Companies like Wework have desks and shared offices in cities all over the world, all with 24/7 access and a full lineup of features.

Wireless Internet and cloud-based tools have rendered the standard office unnecessary, but there are times when a home office or the coffee shop down the street just doesn’t cut it. Whether you’re a solo practitioner looking for a base of operations or a digital nomad needing a desk for the day, there are many options available to fill in the gaps.

Do you work in a coworking space? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

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