Accepting a position as a remote worker no longer means working at home alone in your PJs. As coworking spaces gain popularity across the country, you have more opportunities to work with — or at least in the company of — others, and possibly work more productively.
A coworking space is a shared work area designed for members and guests to spend all or part of their workday. Most coworking spaces use a membership model where you pay different rates depending on the access you want, from unlimited to a specific number of days or hours per week. Some coworking spaces also offer guest rates if you need to use the facilities for just a day.
Coworking spaces offer all the amenities of your typical office, including plenty of seats, desks, and even comfy couches. Private offices are often available for drop-in use or reservation. Most coworking spaces are equipped to accommodate technology needs as well, from high-speed Internet connections to video conferencing facilities. Shared kitchens and mail service are also common.
While coworking spaces are popular with small, home-based business owners, remote workers from larger companies are also finding these spaces valuable. Home-based business owners often use coworking spaces for meetings or as reliable mailing addresses, while remote workers enjoy being able to telecommute while still having the benefit of a social office environment. If you need to travel as part of your job, you might be able to find a coworking space with locations in multiple cities that you can access under one membership fee.
What to Look for in a Coworking Space
If you are considering accepting a remote assignment, it is worth looking for a local coworking space while you are engaging in your job search. You could negotiate the membership fee into your job offer. The challenge will be finding the right space for you. As the number of coworking spaces increases, you have more options.
First, you should consider the hours you will need access to the space, which are particularly important if your work will require you to connect with people in different time zones. Some coworking spaces are available 24 hours a day, while others are more limited.
Next, you should make sure you are comfortable with the security measures the coworking space has in place. Learn about the system to gain access to the space. The space may provide pass cards for 24-hour access, but you will want to make sure there are additional security features as well, such as cameras. You should also inquire if there is staff present on site to enforce security measures or help with technology. If staff is available, be sure to check what their schedule is.
Before making a commitment, visit the coworking space to ensure the environment is comfortable for you. You will want to check noise and traffic levels at different times of day. Will the type of workspace you need be available when you need it, even during busy periods? Will you have access to private spaces when you need them?
Some coworking spaces emphasize community, hosting happy hours, educational gatherings, or other special events. Others may promote privacy and enforce a professional on-site etiquette of keeping to yourself. Some spaces now provide access to child care, while others allow pets. Finding the right match could turn your lonely remote work assignment into an opportunity to spend time in a unique and productive work environment.
Dr. Lori Long is a professor of management at Baldwin Wallace University.
Dr. Lori Long is a professor of management at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, where her teaching and research focus on human resource management and effective work/life management strategies. She is also a faculty fellow in the university’s Center for Innovation and Growth.