Coworking Spaces vs Small Offices: Which One is Right for You?

Coworking Spaces vs Small Offices

Fed up with working from home? But don’t want to go into the office? 

We have good news. 

There is another way. 

Well, actually, there are two other ways. 

  1. You could go to a coworking space. 
  2. Or you could rent a small office. 

But what’s the best option for you and your work? 

Let’s find out more. 


SECTION ONE: Small offices 

Why get an office at all? 

COVID-19 has changed the way we work, forcing millions of people to work remotely. 

Now, two-thirds of US employees don’t want to return to the office. One-third want a mix of home and office working. 

You may be wondering: 

Do I actually need an office? 

For many, the answer is yes and there are plenty of compelling reasons to bring workers back into the office. 

If you’re considering a small office, this provides you with a private space to work. They are also designed with productivity and focus in mind. 

Plus, a small office saves you from staring at the same four walls day-in-day-out. You get physical separation from your home and working lives. 

And you don’t have to share with anyone. 

Benefits of small offices 

Benefits of small offices

1. It helps keep your work and home life separate 

Even if you love your job, it’s not healthy to feel like you’re working every minute of every day. 

A small office can help you mentally separate your work and home. It provides physical distance and a different environment. 

2. Your workspace quality, guaranteed 

You can guarantee certain standards with an office. Some landlords are offering lavish amenities to entice workers back in the office. 

If you rent a serviced office, it’ll come with furniture and equipment. This may include ergonomic chairs, desks (maybe, standing desks), printers and air-con, for example. 

Plus, there’s the internet connection to consider. A (good) small office will provide a guaranteed amount of bandwidth. That means no stuttering Zoom calls or inconvenient internet outages. 

3. It’s free from distractions 

Post-pandemic, productivity started to take a hit. In a small office space, you can literally lock the door and block out any distractions. There’s no doorbell ringing or children screaming. 

This could work wonders for your productivity. While productivity is difficult to quantify, it’s certainly easier to focus on your work when you know that no one is going to disturb you. 

4. It’s a professional space 

A small office gives you a professional space to work from and meet clients. This can help boost your business brand. (And you can also brand your office, adding to the effect.) 

Some small office spaces also provide you with other business services. You’ll have a professional address, for example, and may get access to services like a receptionist. 

These little touches can go a long way to help you present a more professional front. 

5. It’s yours – and yours alone 

A small office is your space. You don’t have to share with anyone. 

There are plenty of wins here: 

  • Productivity. You can set-up your office to maximize your productivity. 
  • Freedom. You don’t have to clear up your desk at the end of the working day or carry your laptop around. 
  • Security. You are in complete control of your space. This could be important if you’re worried about the confidentiality of your work. 
  • Privacy. You get a quiet, professional environment with fewer scheduling conflict and distractions. 

Cons of small offices 

Cons of small offices

1. Less networking 

In a small office, there are limited opportunities to network with individuals and businesses in (and outside of) your industry. 

2. Separation of staff 

Office design has a direct impact on staff productivity and creativity. 

A traditional office layout with cubicles/individual offices can create barriers between staff. 

3. Office management 

If you decide to rent a serviced office, the furniture, amenities and IT infrastructure are provided. 

A leased office is more of a blank canvas – but that means you’ll have to sort out and maintain many of the office amenities. 

Make sure you check your contract in terms of what is (and is not) provided in your office space. 

4. Long-term commitment 

Traditional offices often comes with longer-term leases, compared to a coworking space. 

While some offices do provide flexibility, it’s important to (you guessed it) check your contract. 

5. Cost 

And we don’t just mean your rental costs

You may need to pay for certain amenities and travel to and from your office. 

6. Other tenants 

No one likes a noisy neighbour, right? 

If you rent a small office, you may find yourself working near other businesses. 

This could be a positive, providing you with networking opportunities. But if you need privacy and peace, make sure you find out about the other tenants. 

Who are small offices right for? 

1. Businesses needing a base… 

If you need (or want) to work in the same area – a small office is a great option, giving you the stability that you need. 

Plus, you’re guaranteed to work at the same space and desk for as long as you want to. Availability is not a concern. 

2. …and/or in need of a better location 

You may want to move closer to your clients or customers. A small office can put you at the centre of the action. 

There’s also the cost of travel to consider. If you’re regularly visiting clients/customers in the same location, it may make sense to move your business there. 

3. Small companies 

OK, it’s a no-brainer. But if you want a small office, you need to be a solo operator or a small business. 

That said… 

4. Room for growth 

Growing your business from your own home is a daunting and utterly impractical task. Some small office operators provide options to scale up, as and when you’re ready. 

It depends on the amount of space available and the flexibility of your rental agreement. 

Here’s the deal: 

Make sure you check the flexibility of your small office contract. 

5.     Confidential information 

If you deal with confidential information or need privacy in your work, then a small office is a good solution. 

Confidentiality and privacy are also maintained for clients in a small office. 

6.     Increasing client interaction 

Face-to-face interactions are important to build your business. You can welcome clients into your office and convince them you’re the right person for the job. 

Plus, a small office gives you a professional (and personally branded) environment to meet in. 

How to find a small office 

How to find a small office

There are lots of operators out there who can help you find a small office space. Here are a handful of options: 

  • Flexspace 

The UK’s leading provider of flexible offices and workshops with a wide choice for small to medium enterprises in the UK. Find out more

  • Spaces 

Spaces is a full service, creative working environment featuring a mix of office and work environments with 414 locations around the world. Find out more

  • Instant Offices 

As the world’s largest procurer of serviced office space, Instant matches businesses with flexible office space around the world. Find out more

  • Premier 

Premier provides office spaces at more than 90 locations across the USA. Find out more


SECTION TWO: Coworking spaces and shared workspaces 

To start, here’s a quick coworking space definition… 

OK, here’s a brief coworking space introduction. 

coworking space is a shared workspace. Each and every one is different (that’s part of the appeal). There are plenty of coworking space examples. 

However, most coworking spaces are open-plan spaces (with other designs emerging). This coworking space design encourages members to interact and collaborate. 

Here’s the deal: 

Coworking spaces can provide hot desks, dedicated desks and private offices. Most are usually jam-packed with amenities including free wi-fi, snacks and coffee, focusing on the member experience

There are shared areas including common kitchens, restrooms and lounges. Shared printing, copying, faxing and/or scanning facilities are also available. 

A sense of community is important to most coworking spaces, who run regular events to encourage networking and boost the professional development of members. 

Some coworking spaces are tailored to specific industries. Others provide maker spaces and facilities. Most have meeting rooms and other conference services. 

What does this mean for you? 

To use a coworking space, you either sign up as a member or you may be able to drop in as and when you need to. Some spaces are open on a 24/7 basis. 

Members usually pay a regular fee to use the space and amenities. This is often charged based on how often you want to use the coworking space – and how you want to use it. 

Want to know the best part? 

Coworking is a cost-effective option. 

If you’re happy to hot desk, for example, you’ll pay less than an individual who wants to rent a dedicated desk. If you want to pay for a private office (more on that later), you’ll pay more again. 

Most coworking spaces are used by freelancers, the self-employed, corporate remote workers and small businesses. 

Anyone can use a coworking space. 

But should you use a coworking space? 

Coworking space introduction – How do they differ from small offices? 

Coworking space research reveals there are plenty of difference between these ways of working. 

And it looks like the coworking spaces are winning – coworking space as a percentage of total office space nearly doubled from 1.1% in 2017 to 2.1% as of Q2 2020.  

Here are some of the key differences between coworking spaces and small offices: 

1. Layout. 

Coworking space design is completely different, compared to a small office. 

While a small office provides segregated spaces for people to work, a coworking space usually has an open plan layout. 

2. Variation. 

Coworking spaces have different areas, designing for different purposes. This sort of coworking space design encourages members to interact and move around the space. 

In a small office, you may just get a desk and not much else. There are (sometimes) shared resources, like kitchens, but your chance of bumping into someone are tiny, in comparison. 

3. Collaboration. 

Coworking spaces often keen to build a sense of community, encouraging members to network and collaborate. 

In a small office, businesses often work in silo with little opportunity for collaboration. 

4. Events. 

Coworking spaces tend to organise a range of events – both professional and social – to encourage members to meet up and grow their careers/businesses. 

These events are often more regular (and socially-oriented) compared to small office rentals. 

5. Amenities. 

Small offices offer similar amenities, but coworking spaces tend to offer community-focused amenities. Think free beer on a Friday or yoga and meditation classes, for example. 

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6. Sharing. 

At a coworking space, you’re sharing the space with other members. 

You may find yourself sat in a noisy open-plan office, for example, and also have to share amenities with your fellow co-workers. 

At a small office, your space is yours and yours alone. 

Benefits of coworking spaces 

Benefits of coworking spaces

1. Less formal. 

Coworking spaces are typically less restrictive and formal, compared to a small office. 

Most coworking spaces provide areas where you can wind down and take a break – whether that’s in the shared kitchen or over the ping-pong table. 

That’s not all. 

This can help boost your productivity, giving you a break so you return to your work refreshed. 

2. Flexibility. 

Most coworking spaces provide you with flexible options to use the space as and when you want to. 

You’re not tied into a long-term rental contract and if you don’t want to use the space every day, you don’t have to (or have to pay for it). 

Best of all? 

If you need to scale up (or scale down) the number of spaces you need at a coworking space, this isn’t usually a problem. 

That’s because most coworking space design has flexibility in mind. 

3. Creativity. 

Coworking spaces are designed to inspire. There are plenty of coworking space examples of solid design

From their open-plan layouts to high ceilings and zoned areas, a coworking space can provide you with variation in your working day and new sources of inspiration. 

4. Networking. 

A coworking space can connect you with people who have different skillsets and think differently. 

This not only helps you build a wider network but also gives you a constant supply of talent to analyse and talk through your ideas. 

5. Community. 

Loneliness is a major issues for many homeworkers. Even if you work in a small office, you are still segregated from other workers. 

A coworking space provides you with a human connection. You can build relationships with other members, boosting your morale and (maybe) your business. 

6. Events. 

Most coworking spaces run regular events, from lunch and learn sessions to more formal talks or just some (usually free) beers after work. 

7. Amenities. 

Coworking spaces come with a range of amenities. 

From free coffee to professional services and meeting rooms, you get access to most typical office perks – without having to buy (or maintain) them. 

8. Wi-Fi. 

Coworking spaces live and die by the quality of their Wi-Fi. 

These are generally optimised and provide a better quality connection compared to a home internet or coffee shop network. 

9. Separation. 

A coworking space provides you with the physical and mental separation from your home and working lives. 

10. Cost. 

Coworking spaces are generally cheaper than small offices, providing members with the flexibility to pay for what they use and need. 

Cons of coworking spaces 

Cons of coworking spaces

1. Distractions. 

While coworking spaces are vibrant places to work, you may find this open-plan and community-focused environment distracting, especially if you need to concentrate in your work. 

2. Privacy. 

If you need privacy in your work or deal with confidential information, then a coworking space may not be a fit for your business. 

3. Cost. 

While a coworking space is cheaper than a traditional office, it’s still more expensive than sitting in your home office or a coffee shop. 

4. Branding. 

If you want to present a professional and branded image to your clients, then you may struggle to do this with a coworking space. 

5. Availability. 

You have to book to guarantee a slot at a coworking space. 

Here’s the kicker: 

Sometimes, a desk may not be available. Also, other shared resources like meeting rooms may get booked up. 

6. Competition. 

While you’ll work with like-minded individuals in a coworking space, you’ll also be working with the competition. 

So, you could regularly run into people you’re competing against for business. 

But wait, let me tell you something. 

This could be a perk, where collaborative projects could emerge. 

7. Personality conflicts. 

A coworking space is a shared space. That means a lot of different people working together – often in close proximity. 

So, there will inevitably be some conflict – and a lack of HR department may make it difficult to resolve any major issues. 

Who are coworking spaces right for? 

Who are coworking spaces right for?

Coworking space research reveals that this way of working is on the up. There are an estimated 35,000 flexible workspaces in the world today. 

Here are some of the people you’re likely to find in such spaces: 

1. Freelancers. 

Isolation and loneliness are common downsides to freelancing, and this is where a coworking space can help. 

It also provides freelancers with a professional work environment while maintaining the flexibility they’re used to when working from home. 

Networking opportunities are another major benefit for most freelancers, helping them meet like-minded individuals, share ideas and even find new work. 

2. New businesses. 

The flexibility of coworking gives new business owners the chance to scale up and down as they need. 

Plus, they’re a cheaper option compared to a serviced office. 

Many coworking spaces also provide new businesses with support to grow. And the networking opportunities can also help them find new work and clients. 

3. Small businesses. 

Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from coworking spaces. 

They get the perks of using a professional workspace without the overheads (or restrictions) of running an office. 

The collaborative atmosphere of a coworking space is also great to nurture creativity and boost productivity – both valuable attributes for small businesses. 

4. Remote workers. 

Remote work is now a feature of most working lives – but many remote workers can struggle to focus and stay productive in a home office. 

A coworking space offers a middle ground between the home office and the office. 

Remote workers can leave the house but also get a professional work environment – without the restrictions (and often lengthy commute) of a traditional office. 

5. Commuters. 

Commuting is unlikely to top anyone’s list of favourite workday activities. 

However, a professional office environment still provides a lot of benefits. 

Coworking gives workers a way to enjoy the benefits of the office while reducing the length of their commute. And a ‘coworking space near me’ should be easy to find with a quick search. 

6. Corporates. 

Many corporates are waking up to the benefits of coworking, allowing teams to use such spaces on an occasional and (sometimes) permanent basis. 

This not only helps bring disparate teams together (especially during these times of increased remote work) but also give corporates access to a new pool of talent. 

Traditional financial organisations, for example, have set up in coworking spaces to work with emerging Fintechs. 

Types of coworking spaces 

A solid coworking space definition is hard to pin down. Each space is different – and a lot of new coworking models are emerging. 

There are a lot of coworking space companies to choose from. Here are the main types: 

1. Conventional. 

There are plenty of different flavours of coworking space but the most common is one where you can rent a desk on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or, maybe, yearly basis. 

These spaces are open to everyone and don’t tend to target a specific industry or type of worker. 

They usually come with standard amenities including free Wi-Fi, coffee and meeting rooms. 

2. Office rental. 

Some coworking spaces come with rental office space on top of their rental desks. 

This provides small (and new) businesses with the privacy they need and the opportunity to brand their space, while also realising the cost and community benefits of working. 

These spaces typically come with good conference facilities too and other amenities/services to help growing businesses. 

3. Corporate. 

These coworking spaces cater for a more professional member who wants a typical office environment but without the isolation of a small office arrangement. 

Knotel, for example, seems to be exiting the coworking business and focusing solely on enterprise clients

4. Minimal. 

These spaces provide you with a desk and Wi-Fi connection, free coffee and not much else. 

But they’re usually a cheap option – and more professional than working in a coffee shop. 

5. Industry-specific/niche. 

These spaces are only open to members who work in a specific industry or niche

A lot of coworking spaces are tailored towards the tech industry but there are also spaces dedicated to everything from construction to catering. 

6. Meeting space only. 

Some spaces let individuals and businesses rent a meeting room, and nothing else. 

This can help home workers who want to use a professional space to meet clients. 

7. Operator-led. 

When most people hear the word “coworking” they may think of big operators like WeWork

Some coworking space companies own several spaces, often in the same region. This provides members with the opportunity to use multiple spaces in the same group. 


How can I find a coworking space? 

If you need a coworking space, check out AllWork.Space. We can help you find the flexible workspace you need to meet your needs. 


SECTION THREE: Finding your workspace 

Determine your needs 

Determine your needs

Every business is different. Every individual works in a different way. 

Here are the main considerations to help you decide between a small office and coworking space: 

1. Privacy and quiet. 

If you need privacy and quiet to do your work, you need a small office. 

A coworking space is too crowded and busy. However, a coworking space with office rental options could be a viable alternative. 

2. Flexibility. 

Coworking spaces provide flexibility. You can choose when you use a coworking space and how long you want to use it for. 

Some coworking spaces (and small offices) are open on a 24/7 basis. However, coworking spaces provide you with the flexibility to scale up (and down) as and when you need to. 

3. Location. 

Location is a primary concern for most businesses. You may want to be close to your clients or other working in your industry. 

Or you may want to find a space that’s close to your home (or usual office location). 

There should be plenty of options available – for both small offices and coworking spaces. A quick ‘find coworking space near me’ search should do the trick. 

4. Budget. 

Depending on the scale of your business, a coworking space is usually a cheaper option compared to a small office. It lets you pay for what you need to use. 

A fixed rate coworking membership is often cheaper in the long run too, compared to hiring a desk on an ad hoc basis, if you use the space on a regular basis. 

However, a small office may be a worthy investment if you need privacy and a more professional environment to win clients and keep your business operating securely. 

5. Size. 

Do you work alone or are you running a small business? 

While solo operators are usually more suited to coworking spaces, a shared office all provides benefits including privacy and stability. 

Some businesses prefer to work in a small office to increase team morale. Others, especially those in the early start-up stages, may need to protect their IP and want to work behind closed doors. 

6. Collaboration. 

A coworking space is designed with collaboration in mind. It’s the perfect place to meet like-minded individuals and similar businesses, helping you widen your network and find work. 

While some small offices are shared with different businesses, there are usually fewer networking opportunities and less chance of collaborating with like-minded individuals. 


IN CONCLUSION 

Both coworking spaces and small offices have pros and cons. 

If your business is fairly small or your work alone, a coworking space is a cost-effective option, providing you with the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. 

If you or your business needs privacy and meets with clients on a regular basis, a small office space gives you a quiet place to work and guaranteed peace and quiet. 

Which is better depends on the needs and wants of you and your work. 

There are a variety of platforms that can help you find the perfect workspace. To find out more, check out AllWork.Space

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