The U.S. got its very first coworking space in 2005. Not quite 15 years later, the country now offers 781 coworking spaces, where remote workers can tap the benefits of a structured office. In future years, that number will almost certainly keep growing.
This means that even once you’ve decided to rent a coworking space, you face the challenge of choosing the best one for your needs. And the closer you are to a major metropolitan area, the more choices you have.
How can you narrow the pool of possibilities down to the best coworking space for you? While each worker is different, these considerations will help you make your choice.
The first thing you should think about is the location.
When you rent a coworking space, you’re buying an office. You might only pay for five days a month, or you might pay for 365 days a year. No matter what, though, having an office outside of your home means having a commute.
You need to know that you can live with that commute. Think about travel time and travel methods. If the best coworking space is in a neighborhood across town, is it worth navigating traffic to get there? Will your coworking space force you to have a car, or can you save your hard-earned money by using a bike or public transit?
These questions don’t have right answers—it’s all about what works best for you. But make location the number-one priority when you choose your coworking space. A great space that’s too hard to get to will become virtually worthless.
While the location is critical, so is cost. A coworking space that eats up too much of your profits will harm, not help, your career.
Don’t delve too deep into the search before deciding your budget. How much can you realistically afford to pay for a coworking space? What’s your ideal price, and what’s your maximum price?
You may get the chance to take on more work or raise your rates once you have the resources offered by a coworking space. But it’s best not to count on these opportunities before you have them. Work with your current budget to figure out how much you can pay right now.
Now that you have the broad location and budget needs nailed down, you can start to think about the specifics.
One thing many remote workers rely on is flexibility. You may find yourself working at odd hours or on weekends, depending on when your deadlines are and when you work best. Look for a coworking space that accommodates you when you need it.
For example, are you allowed to come in and work at three in the morning? Or, if you pay to access the space 15 days a month, can you pick which days you come in?
Not all remote workers need flexibility. If you like a regimented schedule, a coworking space that’s open from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday might be ideal. But for many workers, a flexible schedule is part of the job, so you’ll need a space that works when you do.
One of the best things about coworking spaces is that they offer resources that you don’t have. The best space for you will have amenities that you genuinely need and can’t afford (or don’t have space for).
If you often need to make hard copies of documents, for example, you’ll want a coworking space with a high-quality printer and scanner. If you need to host client meetings, you’ll want a coworking space with private rooms available.
Other amenities may not be as essential but can sweeten the deal. Free coffee and snacks, cool classes, gym access, and other perks can help sway your decision. However, be sure to make your choice based on needs, not wants.
How a coworking space is laid out can affect your ability to get things done.
If it’s an open-office plan, you might find yourself distracted by noise. If the private rooms have large windows, you might struggle with the feeling of being on display as you work. If the walls are thin and noise carries, you might have a hard time hosting client meetings in the meeting rooms.
The pictures of a space online will show you one perspective, but make sure to visit in person so you can see if it really fits your work style.
Community and Culture
With a coworking space, you once more enter a traditional office environment where you’ll be working near other people.
One of the main perks of coworking is this human connection. You can make new friends and business connections while staving off feelings of loneliness and isolation. However, this only works if you like the community and culture.
As you tour possible locations, be sure to chat with the people there. Does the space feel inviting and friendly? Does it host lots of workers in your industry who you can relate to? Does it have dedicated meetups and events to forge new connections?
If you like working alone, you should also make sure the space offers enough private rooms to keep you focused. But make sure to factor the office culture in when you make your final decision—working near the right people is another perk you’ll benefit from.
The right coworking space will all but pay for itself by making you more productive and fostering valuable connections. But paying for the wrong coworking space can feel like throwing money down the drain. These simple considerations will ensure you get the best space for your needs, so you can focus on what needs to get done.
Of course, a home office will still serve as a valuable backup when you can’t get to your coworking office. Not sure where to put a home office in your living space? This guide will help.