Coworking isn't for EVERY business...


For many people, the emergence of coworking  spaces has meant no longer working at home or at the local coffee shop. With this change in scenery comes other commonly touted benefits such as networking opportunities and no longer having to work in isolation.

What is less talked about, though, are the potential pitfalls associated with these spaces. While some of these may be intuitively obvious like the presence of excess noise and other distractions, other common problems are not so obvious. Being aware of these issues will help you identify any potential negative impact your coworking  space may be having on your business.



1. Excessive Noise

Imagine you are working your way through a complex line of logical reasoning and a sudden burst of laughter or a loud phone conversation nearby breaks your concentration. It can now take you 15 minutes or more to regain the thread of your reasoning and the concentration that was broken. If you are working in a congested coworking  space, this type of distraction can occur frequently if not regularly. The resulting breaks in concentration mean not only loss of productivity, but it can also result in psychological and physical effects, including irritability, increased stress, and headaches. In fact, it has been found that people are 66% less productive in open-plan working environments and that when noise is reduced, the physical symptoms of stress go down by as much as 27%.

With speech being one of the most distracting types of workplace noise, people working in coworking  spaces are particularly prone to the negative effects of noise. Depending on the nature of your work, the presence of consistent, excessive background noise can be detrimental to the success of your business.

 The Work Better solution:

Work Better’s private offices are all built with sturdy, soundproof walls that muffle any negative noise that might interfere with your work. We’ve also focused on designing our office spaces so our clients never feel “on top of each other;”  the large offices give each business plenty of space between each client.

Furthermore, Work Better’s centers also feature phone booths, collaboration spaces,  and meeting rooms for any clients who need to use the phone - many of which require no reservation. This provides an easy solution for telephone calls that might get too noisey.

Lastly, our professional Community Associates are on call to ensure that our common areas are being treated respectfully and that all of our members can enjoy a place to focus on their work.


 2. Loss Of Control 

When your day is being pulled in a thousand different directions by clients, colleagues, and your inbox, time quickly becomes one of your most valuable commodities. How you choose to spend your working hours has a direct effect on your output and thus your success. Optimizing available working time through practices like time blocking have been demonstrated to improve productivity by 50% or more.  By scheduling time for working on projects, making calls, and even for being reactive and checking your inbox, you help ensure that you get the most out of your available time.

The problem with working in an open-concept environment when it comes to this type of scheduling is that you are readily accessible to others. Without a door that can be closed, others are able to stop by at will. Suddenly your schedule full of carefully constructed blocks of time is thrown out the window with this inability to control in-person interactions. Even if these unplanned interactions are snippets of a few minutes here and there when someone stops by to say hello, that time adds up and represents a significant loss in productivity. But more likely, these interruptions are more frequent and prolonged than the occasional hello. This is due to the fact that some people choose coworking  spaces primarily for the social or networking opportunities.

 The Work Better solution:

Our centers are designed for you to find focus.  We’ve taken the time to design environments that don’t stifle collaboration but also still allow our clients private or semi-private chambers where they can get  their work done.

Our Community Associates do an incredible job of maintaining a respectful and professional environment. Our way of fostering networking opportunities isn’t to put  a keg in the kitchen but to host monthly client appreciation happy hours to essentially block time when clients can focus on getting to know their neighbors.


3. A Bad Impression

When it comes to business, impressions are critical. Depending on your particular business, you probably have to worry about the impression you make on clients, investors, colleagues, and potential new hires – just to name a few. When you first meet someone in person or via webcam, personal attributes like your attire and your mannerisms are not the only things that contribute to the overall impression you make. The physical environment is equally important since your surroundings are inexorably linked to you and thus your business. If you invite someone to your offices and they are clean, professional, and orderly, it creates a sense that your business is likewise.

The problem with coworking  spaces is that you can only control your immediate area. You may be having a very important potential client in for a meeting, but to everyone else, it’s business as usual. This means you may be meeting in a quiet, professional environment or more likely you may be meeting amidst chaos. This lack of control means that your environment may be the deciding factor for potential clients and investors rather than the quality of your work. You have only seconds to make a first impression, and once that impression is made, it is very difficult to change.

The Work Better solution:

From the moment any guests of yours enter a Work Better office center, a friendly Community Associate will be there to cordially greet them and offer a refreshment after seating them in our luxurious reception area.  From common interviews to investor pitches, we understand that appearances mean everything. Depending on your preferences, we can prepare our meeting rooms to have the look, feel, and professional ambiance you desire.

What’s more-- we’re always happy to be on call to make sure your meetings run smoothly. Our Community Associates can do anything from finding your computer charger to booking a caterer for lunch so you can focus on your guests.


 4. Absence Of A Cohesive Culture

One of the biggest selling points of coworking  spaces is a fun, vibrant community. Indeed, this type of environment may be a relief from the isolation and inconvenience of working from home or a local coffee shop, but it comes with its own problems – especially if you aren’t operating as a team of one.

One of the biggest potential problems with your team working from a coworking  space is that it may not always be possible to work in immediate proximity to one another. Further, if your coworking  space has limited or no meeting space available, it’s impossible to close your team away for any period of time for meetings or brainstorming sessions. Under these conditions, it is challenging to grow and develop as a tight and cohesive unit.  Without the ability to close your office doors when you choose, this also means that it can be difficult to remove yourself from negative or annoying individuals who also work in the space. No longer is your office culture defined by the people you choose to work with but rather by who buys a membership to the space.

Working closely with your team in a cohesive environment improves morale and the sense that you are working together towards a shared goal. Conversely, any barriers to coming together as a team means that you are likely to see drops in productivity and an increase in turnover.

The Work Better solution:

Work Better’s centers are designed to encourage collaboration with team members, and we’ve designed our rooms to fit different needs.  We understand that brainstorming is not going to happen with strangers next to you-- which is why we’ve created separate breakout spaces for our clients to create their next big innovation.


5. Breaches In Privacy And Security

In a 2015 survey of more than 3,400 ISACA members, it was found that 83% of respondents believe that cyberattacks are one of the top three biggest threats to businesses today. Depending on your particular coworking  space, your business may be susceptible to attack via an unprotected WiFi connection. This could put the viability of your business at threat if anyone ever gains access to your clients’ information or valuable trade secrets. As more and more businesses are centered around offering a service or intangible, knowledge-based products like app development and financial management, privacy is incredibly important. The more an outsider learns about your product or trade secrets, the less likely you are to remain competitive in the market. Security breaches of this type may be exacerbated by the presence of others in the space working in your industry.

In addition to these types of threats, people working in a coworking  space face additional threats to security and privacy. Not only do you have to worry about who is trying to steal your data via the Internet, but you now also have to think about someone looking over your shoulder or listening to your conversations. Beyond that, if you don’t have a secure locker, equipment theft is a very real concern anytime you step away from your computer.

 The Work Better solution:

Work Better prides itself in being the industry leader when it comes to tech infrastructure. Not only do we provide more bandwidth in our standard offering for our clients than any other coworking space, but we also offer triple-redundant circuits to ensure no outages, direct access to ethernet ports, and the ability to bring in your own server or establish a VPN tunnel.


 6. Problems With Scalability

Finally, coworking  spaces are not conducive for growth and scalability. As your business grows, having access to space that fosters a cohesive team and allows for private and productive collaboration is absolutely critical. Further, as your team grows and scales, your business may start to require additional resources that are not readily available in a coworking  space. Meeting rooms, industry specific equipment that isn’t easily transported daily, and secure Internet access represents just a small sampling of additional resources your business may need as it grows. Rather than just harming the day-to-day operations of your business, your coworking  space may also be restricting your future success as well.

The Work Better solution:

In our fifteen year history, Work Better has created solutions for teams as small as two and as large as thirty.  Our goal is to create a long-term relationship with our clients, so we can keep providing them incredible service year after year. If you’re ready to get started with building a company and don’t want to spend the next few years worrying about how to accommodate your staff, we’re happy to take care of the logistics so you can focus on more important things.


Who contributed to this article? Kelly Schulz and Patrick Reynolds

Patrick Reynolds is also one of Work Better's Sales Managers and is available to discuss more in depth how your experience can be tailored to fit your specific needs at Work Better. To chat with Patrick, you can reach him here


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