Debbie Faizal, Negosentro.com | According to the results of the Global Coworking Survey, by the end of the year 2016, more than 10,000 coworking facilities have opened in different locations in the U.S. The rising trend in the use of such areas for work is largely a result of the fact that workers are increasingly preferring to start their own enterprises. While operating out of coworking spaces does have various advantages, this entrepreneurial option comes with its own set of challenges. If you’ve been considering moving out of the home environment and into shared working areas, being aware of the possible downsides can equip you to prepare for them. Read ahead to understand how.
Challenge No. 1 – Possibility of Overcrowding
Coworking spaces typically have a large number of desks and cubicles for freelancers in a single location. Accordingly, you might find that the spaces are crowded with teams of two or more workers sometimes using a single cubicle or desk. Crowding invariably leads to getting in each other’s way and interrupting workflows that can be detrimental to productivity. You should also be prepared for people stopping by at your desk for a chat or your opinion in the particular field where you have expertise. The ambience of community and collaboration that can be a positive of shared spaces can sometimes become a nuisance when you’re trying to concentrate on work.
The solution? Look for coworking spaces that have limited seating and private cubicles. You might have to pay a bit more for them, but they may be worth the cost.
Challenge No. 2 – Unexpectedly High Costs
Given the high overhead costs such as utilities, internet expenses, maintenance of premises and equipment, and insurance, among others, you might find that the membership fees are high. Though, they are lower than the leases you might pay for conventional offices.
The solution? Shop around for coworking hubs that have competitive membership fees. To help cut back on the other costs, check with your accountant for the deductibles you can claim on income-tax returns. As long as you’re working in the same location for a long while, you could deduct expenses like phone bills for business purposes, rent, and computers. To economize on the cost of equipment, consider investing in refurbished laptops that you can buy at affordable rates. You always have the option of upgrading as the business grows.
Challenge No. 3 – Risk of Data Breaches and Information Leaks
Since you’re using shared networks and servers, the risk of data breaches becomes very high. Further, working in shared spaces carries the risk of confidential business information and intellectual property getting stolen. You also risk being overheard when you’re talking to clients and vendors.
The solution? Equip your laptop with the most advanced of firewalls, anti-virus, malware, and spyware software. Be diligent about the password policy you use and change it frequently. You could also install face identification software that blanks the screen when you look away. This tool can protect your work from being copied by over-the-shoulder viewers. You could also consider moving to a private conference room to have your conversations.
Challenge No. 4 – Insufficient Internet Bandwidth
Coworking space providers typically offer you high grade internet services. However, when a large group of are people using the same network, you might find that the server bandwidth is not sufficient to go around.
The solution? Considering investing in a wireless internet connection of your own. You could also think about using the Wi-Fi hotspot created by your phone. This strategy has two benefits. You get protection from data breaches and high-speed exclusive internet services.
Challenge No. 5 – High Turnover Rates
One projected advantage of coworking spaces is the possibility of tapping into the talent resources available in the community around you. However, many shared spaces have a high turnover rate with freelancers and entrepreneurs moving on to other hubs or office spaces of their own in a short time. If you’re banking on the expertise of the skilled people around you, the turnover could be an inconvenience.
The solution? Partner with other renters who you know intend to stick around for a long while. Better yet, learn the additional skills you need to continue to function without assistance.
Challenge No. 6 – Inconvenient Hours
Check with the shared space owners about their working hours. Many such rental spaces have working hours that may not match your requirements. Like, for instance, if you’re starting a business on the side out of your regular job hours.
The solution? Look for coworking spaces that have extended working hours. If you can find rentals that are open round the clock, that would be ideal.
Challenge No. 7 – Possibility of Noise and Distractions
Shared working spaces usually mean that you have a bunch of people with different approaches to working and personalities in a confined space. As a result, you may have people around you joking and laughing while you’re trying to work. Or, they may be having political debates, brainstorming sessions, or loud telephonic conversations that you feel are disturbing. The bustle, energy, and activity can have unexpected effects on you. For instance, you might find it hard to concentrate or you might find the bustle inspiring.
The solution? Most coworking spaces allow you to have a trial. Spend some time in the office and see if the ambience and vibes match your needs and personality. Make your decision after assessing if you can work in the hub.
Challenge No. 8 – Security Issues
Many freelancers renting coworking spaces talk about the issue with unknown visitors walking in and out of the premises leading to the risk of thefts. For instance, should you step away for a cup of coffee; you don’t want to return to find that your laptop is missing.
The solution? Shared working spaces now offer security with a careful screening of the personnel entering and leaving the premises. Look for such spaces. Further, secure your equipment with affordable laptops locks and other tools that make it impossible for thieves to walk away with your belongings.
According to a study by Emergent Research, by the year 2018, there may be more than 1 million freelancers and entrepreneurs working in coworking spaces. This data is a clear indication that in spite of the challenges, coworking spaces are here to stay. Find solutions to the possible problems and focus on the positives of working in shared spaces. You may find that the positives far outweigh the issues you might face.