Pros and Cons of Collective Workspaces

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The traditional corporate workplace with cubicles is starting to go the way of the dinosaur. Movies like Office Space, and television programs like The Office, have caricatured how those environments resemble Lord of the Flies rather than Wall Street.

Images of human workers being treated like drones, subjected to soul-crushing monotony in a sterile office environment, blinded under harsh fluorescent lights, affect the way people choose to work. Enterprising coffee shops and commercial real estate companies have begun offering opportunities to work more flexibly and in locations that inspire. These collective workspaces, or co-working places, are quickly taking over as the ideal “office.”

No workspace is perfect. Even a hip, post-industrial collective workspace can’t have only an upside. We’ll take a look at the benefits and advantages this type of work environment provides. Then we’ll discuss any negative aspects of the different options.


Problems Solved By Collective Workspaces

Even introverted workers need community. Proximity to other busy people can help motivate you. The community of people around you helps combat loneliness or isolation too. For entrepreneurs used to working alone, a collective workspace can provide some much-needed human contact.

There is also a psychological benefit of just leaving the house. Many people work from home, but there are a lot of people who don’t feel like they are really working until they get to a work environment. The mental connection can help boost productivity.

Doing cool work in the presence of others also leads to networking opportunities. Stopping a moment for a cup of coffee can lead to an introduction to valuable new work partnerships.

Using a shared space removes a lot of the headaches maintaining an office. You eliminate the long setup process or long-term leases. This article from Business News Daily further expands on the broad benefits.


Types of Collective Workspaces

A person who wants to use or join a collective workspace has a wide range of options. Consider your personality and work style when choosing.


Paid Temporary Office Environments

Many brands of small and flexible office solutions are available. Pay by the month, the day or the hour. They offer many of the benefits of a larger office space, like conference rooms, printing, coffee, internet access, and shipping and receiving services.

Each of these office environments has its own personality. They cater to different clientele. Some, like WeWork, offer bicycle storage for workers who choose not to take a car. Some buildings may even be pet-friendly, a big perk for the pros who happen to also be animal lovers. Others, like Regus offices, have a more polished, traditional corporate office feel.

This article from Inc. magazine walks you through a more complete list of different brands of commercial shared office spaces. Maybe you can find one nearby that suits your needs.


Coffee Shops

When you walk into a Starbucks or any nice coffee shop, you almost always see people working on their laptops. They often wear earbuds to help block out the noise. This environment has become a very popular workspace, especially helpful for short bursts of work when you can’t get to an office. There are also people who seem to stay all the time, and the baristas know them by name.

A coffee shop also offers great networking opportunities because of the increased chance to see and be seen by other professionals. Stopping off for a coffee could create random opportunity with other connections stopping by. If you use the opportunity, you may win some work from the impromptu meeting.

The negatives are that the coffee shop is noisy and filled with distractions. You also might not find it dependable for finding a vacant table. For the frugal or the dieting professional, the temptation to keep buying expensive, high-calorie beverages and snacks could become a problem.


Free Community Workspaces

Being an entrepreneur, working hard to get your business off the ground, you may want to keep a careful eye on your overhead. There are still other options for collective workspaces that don’t cost anything, as Entrepreneur magazine explains.

The linked article describes community, college, and university programs that encourage small businesses to use spaces on their campuses at no cost. Sometimes the requirement is that there is at least one active student on the team.

Other options for free temporary workspaces are local libraries. The rooms can usually be reserved through the circulation desk or by calling ahead. You might also find a page on your library’s website that shows you availability.

Churches with enterprising leaders have recognized that their facility sits nearly empty a lot of the week. Offering a hospitable working space to congregants and neighbors is a great way these churches can serve their community.



Flexibility is the key. One great advantage to any of these options is that one can try them out without a long-term commitment. You may discover a new collective workspace to be a boost to the way you work.


PHOTO: Startup Stock Photos / CC0 Public Domain

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