Coworking… you mean like WeWork, right? Akin of Kleenex to tissue, WeWork has become the giant of the coworking space. So yes, that but uh, different…
Coworking in its simplest form is shared office space on flexible terms (like Uber for your car and AirBnb for your house) You don’t have to commit to a long lease term, with security deposits or other upfront expenses. You don’t need to set up the internet or stock the toilet paper, you just show up and do your work. Most spaces have unlimited or limited access to accommodate your budget and a plethora of amenities that are attractive for different types of users.
There are 3 basic styles of coworking: membership, dedicated desks, and private offices. While you may have corporate areas for larger companies, virtual memberships or special event options, these 3 make up the majority of what you will find in a coworking space.
Membership is typically the least expensive access to a coworking spot. You can access all of the common areas and amenities (kitchen, bathroom, common desks, coffee), fairly similar to working from a coffee shop, it's a first come first serve basis (although less coffee grinding and distractions). This is your “UberPool” option of workspace, lowest cost and biggest bang for the buck. In most cases, you may get discounted or free access to events & meeting rooms.
Dedicated or Hot Desk
Dedicated desks are reserved spots that only you can work from. You pay a little extra to not have to play the first come first serve game any longer, plus you can leave monitors or make it your own with some decor. These can be sometimes located within the membership area and somehow designated as to not be available for regular members, or can also be located in their own locked room with other dedicated desk members. However the space slices it, these are generally a bit more private than regular membership, and a little more expensive.
Private offices within coworking spaces come in all shapes and sizes. From micro offices that are basically a cubical (maybe even a bit smaller, not kidding), to executive style offices that can fit a small company. There is far from a standard when it comes to private offices, but with all of them, as the name implies, you get privacy. A lockable door that only you have access to, probably blinds, your own whiteboard or TV, nicer furniture… the benefits vary greatly by provider.
So how do you pick a coworking space?
Like anything, you need to do your research. Schedule a tour or book a day pass to work from the spot for a day, talk to the other members and get a feel for the community. One of the biggest perks of a coworking spot is the community, you want a space that has folks you can relate to. You’re a freelance graphic designer? Find a spot with great internet and other freelancers. Do you do sales and a lot of cold calling? Make sure the spot has a phone booth so you won’t bother others. Do you have a lot of meetings? Make sure the space has conference rooms and explore the cost to rent them out, it may be above and beyond the monthly membership expense.