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The coffee shop vs Coworking spaces: Which is better?

The coffee shop – pros and cons

It’s become something of a cliché, the freelancer who sets up a laptop in a coffee shop and spends the day nursing a coffee while making use of the free Wi-Fi. This certainly has a couple of advantages over working from home, but there are also some significant inconveniences.

In a coffee shop, there is the obvious benefit of human contact and interaction, even if it’s just ordering a drink or asking for the barista’s expertise as a coffee guide when deciding what to order next.

Coffee shops also offer a neutral space to meet clients. An informal discussion in these comfortable and laid-back surroundings can be highly productive; however, for more formal meetings or presentations, this kind of setting may be inappropriate.

Then there is the issue of facilities. While coffee shops generally offer Wi-Fi, they are usually notoriously bad. For someone who needs fast and reliable internet, the connection in a local Starbucks is likely to become a source of frustration very quickly.

While there is certainly a role in the freelancer’s world for this kind of location – and many make do by switching between working from home and heading to a coffee shop – most will find it impractical as a permanent solution.

Coworking spaces

For many freelancers, the discovery of coworking spaces comes as something of a revelation; these dedicated working environments designed with their needs in mind offer most of the conveniences of working from home or working in a coffee shop without many of the disadvantages.

Much-needed structure

Freelancers usually value their freedom, but as we mentioned before, the lack of routine can prove highly detrimental to productivity and creativity.

Coworking spaces provide an ideal compromise. Many freelancers feel the act of leaving the house and “going to work” gives much-needed structure to their day. This leaves you free to manage your own time but encourages you to stick to a routine, offering the best of both worlds.

Motivating environment – and perfect for networking

Coworking spaces are often populated by other hardworking and driven freelancers employed in a wide range of different fields. For many, this kind of atmosphere can be highly motivating, especially after coming from the experience of working at home.

In many ways, this kind of situation can be far more positive than sharing an office space with co-workers from the same company since the element of office politics this often engenders is absent in a coworking space.

Working in a coworking space is also the perfect environment for networking, as professionals from across the spectrum are brought together.

You may discover new ideas from people with different skill sets, or you may find the person sitting at the desk across from you is looking for the services you provide.

Inexpensive, flexible, convenient, professional

The great advantage of renting a coworking space is that it is extremely flexible. Most places rent desks by the week or even by the day.

You will usually find the full suite of facilities like phone lines and internet access included in the price, and there is no long-term commitment – factors that make setting up in a traditional office prohibitively expensive.

Often, there will also be meetings rooms at your disposal for when you need to meet with clients in a more professional setting – which will help create a far better impression than you could in a coffee shop.

Finding the right mix

Setting up as a freelancer can be a daunting prospect and a significant challenge. Without the reassurance of working for an established company, you need to think about finding new customers, managing relationships and developing your business by yourself.

However, for many, the biggest problems come from a lack of productivity when working alone. Every freelancer is different, and the key to being creative and productive is probably finding the right mix of working from home and using public spaces like coffee shops.

However, as more and more are coming to realize, incorporating coworking spaces into this blend can prove to be a very positive step in becoming a successful freelance designer.

What’s the benefits of Working from home?

For those who have never tried it, the life of a freelancer might seem like a dream job. You work when you want and where you want, you don’t need to turn up at the office on time and you have no boss to answer to.

However, that’s not quite the reality, and many freelancers struggle to find the ideal setup that maximizes productivity. Here, we look at three of the most common solutions for freelance designers and their relative merits.

1. Working from home

Many, perhaps the majority, of those taking their first steps into the world of freelancing start off working from home – and for good reason. There are many clear advantages associated with this obvious option. 

Inexpensive and flexible

First, there is the flexibility – it’s hard to imagine anywhere more flexible than your own home. You can work the hours that suit you best, at the times when you feel most creative, and you don’t have to follow anybody else’s timetable.

It’s cheap, too. There are no extra expenses (except perhaps installing a proper work desk in an office, but even this isn’t necessary), and most people will usually have a telephone line, an internet connection and everything else already available.

However, most people who try this soon realize that working from home is not the ideal situation they first imagined.

No routine, no social contact

One of the biggest problems freelancers who work from home report is the lack of a fixed routine. Without someone keeping an eye on whether they are at their desk on time in the morning, many find it difficult to stick to a strict schedule.

Then there is the problem of distractions. At home, it takes a strong will and exceptional self-discipline to avoid being side-tracked into doing a million things – other than work.

Another major issue is the problem of loneliness.

Of course, the simple fact of sitting at home all day working alone can certainly affect your mood, but the lack of day-to-day contact with co-workers can also have a big impact on creativity and productivity in the long term. Many freelancers notice their work output dropping as a result.

Finally, there is the issue of meeting clients. Even if designers spend the majority of their time working on projects, a certain amount of contact time with clients is also required. For most, inviting clients to their home for meetings lacks the required level of professionalism.