Design Debate: To Cowork or not to Cowork?

99u.adobe.com 99u.adobe.com3 years ago in #Business Love50

Comfortable armchairs, frothy cappuccinos, friendly collaborators, and rubber plants that seem to rise higher than the clouds. On the surface, what’s not to love about coworking clubs?  For freelancing creative professionals today, hunkering down together in formerly abandoned warehouses to foster collaboration and idea sharing has become somewhat of the status quo. Research shows that 33% of today’s workforce is independent or freelance—and this workforce naturally needs desks to occupy—so it’s no wonder that in 2018 over 2,000 coworking membership spaces opened worldwide. And these numbers continue to rocket. If it’s between Skyping in pajama pants (“has it really been three days since I last left the house?”) or the regularity and community that a collaborative work space espouses, it’s very easy to understand why so many freelancers are opting for membership packages these days. But is the price tag, which can easily surpass $250 a month, really worth it, or are we better off sticking with coffee shops and the local library? And given the meteoric rise and current crisis of WeWork, should we be more mindful of which cozy, bean bag-laden haven we embrace? For our newest installment of Design Debate, we spoke with a remote freelancer traveling the world with his laptop, a researcher of Urban Planning studying the effects of coworking hubs on a neighborhood in Ontario, and the co-founder of a feminist, intersectional membership space in Minnesota. To cowork or not to cowork, that’s the question today—so ready, set, debate!  *** “Whether or not coworking is right for you depends entirely on the business you’re running, and what kind of environment you work best in.” – Alex Deruette, Design Director and Co-Founder of Kickpush  “Coworking spaces can be very useful. When I started my own company, being part of a membership workspace helped us with promotion and it introduced us to a lot of people. But for some individuals, maybe working in more creative roles, the atmosphere of a coworking space can ultimately be a problem. “In 2014, I left my job, hired my friends, got an apartment in the suburbs of London, and founded Kickpush. We worked out of the apartment for an entire year but then decided to become a ‘real’ company, and so we rented a little studio out of a coworking space in central London. When I say little, I mean it—it was the size of a bathroom.  “It was fun to start with and a good move for the company. Our neighbors were a virtual reality production studio called Visualise, and we ended up working on a very, very cool project with them for The Economist. The coworking space itself was a beautifully designed environment. We were exposed to a lot of great people as well as nice food and coffee. “But after six months, we all started to feel like we were back to a nine-to-five job. And while the space looked amazing and was a great place to bring clients, it was not comfortable at all. There was a big problem with the chairs for example: We had these old, very cool chairs from the ’50s that were impossible to work in. “Eventually, everyone on the team decided we’d had enough. We all just wanted to travel, while still working together but remotely. I first went to Lisbon and now I’m in Mexico. I now spend my mornings in a coffee shop, and then I finish my day at home where I can play my own music and have access to all the things that inspire me. When I’m working creatively, I find it very difficult to concentrate…

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