Coworking Space vs. Coffee Shop: Why Coworking Wins
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, professionals from numerous walks of life were chipping away at the concept of permanent workspaces and the 9-to-5 workday and five day workweek. Digital nomads representing the gig economy had more than chipped away at the “wall”—they had broken it down and the majority of them were working from all sorts of places. Startups and small businesses were increasingly abandoning the traditional concept of workspace and work timeframes and were embracing 100% remote workforces or using coworking spaces based on the needs of their businesses.
Some large enterprises had gotten on the “bandwagon” and were offering greater flexibility to their workers and adopting hybrid workplaces where workers spent some of the week collaborating with colleagues in coworking spaces—either corporate designed and maintained or rented—and the remainder of the week working remote.
The Genie Is Out—New Normal Workplace Here to Stay
But there were still “old-school” businesses holding onto the idea that success and productive work could only be attained if workers were in a fixed and assigned workspace eight hours a day, five days a week. A Pew Research study published late last year shows that 71% of workers in the U.S. are now working from home, and most of them do not want to return to the days of sitting in traffic for hours each day to commute to a permanent workplace and confined to a fixed eight-hour per day work schedule.
Contra what some businesses and managers thought, work productivity for workers actually increased during the pandemic; they are working longer hours and are more productive than when commuting and sitting in an office five days a week from 9 to 5. The reality is the genie is out of the bottle, and businesses wishing to return to pre-pandemic work environments will find it very difficult to recruit and retain high-quality workforces. Try as much as they want, they are going to have a very difficult time stuffing that genie back into the bottle.
On-Demand Workspace and Meeting Space Needed
As the pandemic subsides, albeit some professionals and businesses will opt for 100% remote work, most experts believe the majority of professionals and businesses will shift to hybrid work environments. Some days, professionals will spend the entire day working from their home offices. On other days, however, they will need a space to meet in-person with colleagues, partners, and clients. For some businesses, they will shrink their overall office footprint and redesign their workplaces so that workers have on-demand workspaces and meeting rooms that can be used as needed. However, not every company will elect to retain workplaces in every location where their workers are at.
Seeking Out the Local Coffee Shop to Work and Meet: Pros and Cons
In each of these scenarios, some form of workspace and meeting space is needed. One of the options is to leverage the local coffee shop. Before the pandemic, coffee shops were a popular gathering place for busy professionals; individual workers would camp out for hours pounding away on their laptops and groups of individuals would congregate around a table with their laptops for length business conversations.
Coffee shops certainly have their alure. It’s difficult to resist the smell of freshly roasted coffee and to get started with your work with a brewed latte and pastry—and there is always more if you want another drink or snack. Nearly every coffee shop won’t mind if you take up a space for a couple hours, and they all have some form of internet for patrons. Plus, there is almost always plenty of electrical outlets and comfortable chairs or sofas to sit on. There is a sense of continuity and convenience when the home office has become too isolated or distractions too numerous to focus on your work.
The same can be said about in-person meetings. There is nothing better to get a meeting off to a great start than a cappuccino, macchiato, or cortado. Coffee shops are known locations as well, and the familiarity puts colleagues and clients at ease (not to mention they are normally easy to locate).
Yet, there are disadvantages that come with coffee shops—for both individuals trying to get work done and for professionals meeting with others in-person. Coffee shops can fill up at certain times of the day, and the congregation of people and noise can be a big distraction. Confidentiality is a problem as well—from those looking at your laptop over your shoulder or eaves dropping on private conversations.
And at a certain point, the amount of time you spend sitting in the coffee shop can become a problem. Either you need to purchase drinks and food regularly to justify the time spent there, or employees at the coffee shop may begin to give you or your group glares (particularly during high-volume times when seats and tables are at a premium). Finally, for individuals working by themselves, getting up to use the restroom can be a logistical challenge. If you leave your laptop and other belongings on the table, you risk having them stolen. If you take them to the restroom, you must juggle them all and risk losing your table and chair.
Leveraging Coworking Space: Pros and Cons
Coworking space is a great alternative to coffee shops. They are no longer only used by digital nomads but by actual businesses—small to large. With the shift to hybrid work environments, their utilization rates are expected to grow exponentially. Coworking spaces, such as those from Davinci Meeting Rooms, can be booked by the hour, half-day, or full day. They also come with various technologies that are critical for work productivity—printers, presentation tools, office supplies, and more. Additionally, most have lobby greeters who can direct you to all of the resources, help you locate the right space, greet your visitors when they arrive, and introduce you to others in the space.
The opportunity to interact with other like-minded professionals is not only invigorating to most, but such can lead to beneficial collaborations and business activities. Most coworking spaces like Davinci Meeting Rooms come with meeting rooms, and thus it is easy to move from focused work on a project to a collaborative meeting with employees and clients. And when a client arrives for a meeting, the first impressions of a professional meeting space has definitive advantages; their perception of you as a professional and/or your company is bound to be immensely higher than if you met them at the local coffee shop.
When it comes to cost, coworking space is certainly more expensive than paying a few drinks at the local coffee shop. But they are immensely less costly than renting a permanent office, and there is no long-term lease attached to a coworking space. The collaboration in a coworking space can come with its disadvantages. Some professionals can get distracted due to the social atmosphere and spend too much time chatting with other professionals in the coworking space.
While privacy in a coworking space is much better than a coffee shop, it can still be problematic for those who are on the phone frequently. Finally, some coworking spaces have limited operating hours, and thus for those who need to work early morning or early evening hours, they may be problematic.
Coffee Shops and Coworking Spaces: Important Tools in the Workspace Toolbox
Nearly all of the data indicates that professionals are excited about work post-pandemic. Greater workspace and workhour flexibility will result in better work-life balances—better health, happier marriages and relationships, and more time with kids and families. Businesses benefit, too. They have a much larger pool of workers from which to recruit, and it becomes easier to retain their top talent. Where we work evolves into a toolbox of options. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all scenario, and coworking spaces and coffee shops are two of the important tools that we need to ensure are included in that toolbox.