What Is a Coworking Space?

Coworking space with two men working on laptops

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What Is a Coworking Space? A Digital Nomad Guide To the Power of Coworking

Have you ever dreamt of swapping your office desk for a sun-drenched balcony in Bali, laptop buzzing with the promise of freedom from the 9-5 grind? That’s the life of a digital nomad, and with remote work remaining a popular choice for many workers, many of us are asking, “Where do I want to work from?” 

To answer this question, in the dynamic landscape of remote work and digital nomadism, the term “coworking” has gained significant traction, leading us to our topic: what exactly is a coworking space, and why should I care?

Coworking Spaces Are Shared Offices For Independent Working

Coworking spaces embody a shift in how we perceive work environments. Imagine a workspace buzzing with focused energy, each desk occupied by a diverse tribe of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote professionals. This, in essence, is a coworking space. It’s a shared office environment where individuals come together to work independently but not in isolation, sharing a communal space.

At their core, coworking spaces offer a specific and intentional space for independent working. They’re the digital nomads’ answer to the traditional office’s rigidity, providing flexible workspaces that accommodate various needs and schedules. 

Whether you’re a freelance writer seeking inspiration, an entrepreneur in need of networking opportunities, or a remote worker craving a dedicated work atmosphere, coworking spaces are designed to cater to these diverse demands. 

They merge the autonomy of working independently with the camaraderie of a shared space, creating an environment that fuels productivity and community simultaneously, offering an escape from the monotony of the cubicle and/or the isolation of the home office. 

Ditch the isolation blues and embrace the pulse of productivity. Enter the world of coworking, where digital nomads and remote workers from all corners of the globe unite under one roof to create, connect, and thrive.

What Are Coworking Spaces Used For?

At their core, coworking spaces serve as hubs where individuals, irrespective of their industry or background, come together to work in a shared environment. These spaces are not limited to a specific profession or sector, allowing diverse professionals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote employees to coexist under one roof.

This means that the answer as to what the spaces are used for is as diverse as the nomads and remote workers themselves! Whether you’re a freelance writer seeking inspiration, a coder chasing deadlines, or a budding entrepreneur brainstorming the next big idea, coworking spaces offer a sanctuary for your professional endeavours. 

  • Need a meeting room for a client pitch? Check. ✔️
  • Craving a quiet corner for deep work? There’s that too. 👍
  • Just want a change of scene from your accommodation or home office? Perfect. 💯

Plus, high-speed internet, printing facilities, and even coffee bars and other cool amenities (or distractions!) are often at your disposal, making these spaces a one-stop shop for remote work productivity.

How Do Coworking Spaces Actually Work?

The main perk of coworking spaces lies in their adaptability and inclusivity. Most offer flexible membership plans, ranging from daily passes for hot desks to monthly subscriptions and dedicated desks for long-term residents.

Your fees grant you access to amenities like high-speed internet, meeting rooms, printing facilities, and more. This flexibility enables individuals to choose the plan that best suits their working style and schedule.

Think of it as a gym for your professional well-being – pay your dues, and the tools for success are yours to use.

man working in a coworking space

How Much Work Can You Get Done In a Coworking Space?

One common concern for those exploring coworking spaces is the environment’s productivity level. Contrary to misconceptions, these spaces are designed to enhance productivity. This depends on your work style and the specific space.

Studies by Deskmag and Harvard Business Review suggest that coworking can actually increase productivity due to the control, community and flexibility that they bring to remote workers. 

I am a budget traveller, and often I have found myself sitting on my hostel bed in a dorm room trying to get work done while everyone else is partying – a less-than-ideal setup, and one that my back is definitely suffering from! Finding dedicated workspaces in the places that I travel to, for me, has been invaluable. 

The sense of community, the structured environment, and the elimination of distractions can work wonders for your focus, and I really appreciate the ability to draw a line between work and life, leaving me free to enjoy my travel time and only think about work in dedicated environments.  

You should be mindful that some spaces can be inherently social, so choose your coworking haven based on your noise tolerance and need for quiet zones.

Are Coworking Spaces Noisy?

While some coworking spaces exude a lively atmosphere, they typically strike a balance between collaboration and focus. Modern spaces often provide designated quiet areas or soundproof rooms for concentrated work, ensuring that you can tune into your tasks without distractions.

The noise level varies greatly. Some spaces cater to focused work with designated quiet areas, while others embrace a more collaborative vibe. Do your research, read reviews, ask for recommendations and visit potential spaces to get a feel for the atmosphere. Remember, earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones are always your nomadic friend! I use Sony’s wh-1000xm4 (not sponsored, I just really love these headphones!) and the noise cancelling is pretty great, allowing me to get my head down and focus when I need to. 

To be honest though, most of the coworking spaces that I have gone to have been pretty quiet – everyone is there for work and to focus not to chat, which means the atmosphere typically reflects that. If you do have a meeting, or you’re working with a group and worried about disturbing the peace, you should scope out some livelier spaces, or book a private meeting room.

What Type Of Facilities Will You Get?

Coworking spaces go beyond desks and chairs; they typically offer a whole range of facilities. From fully-equipped kitchens, lounge areas, and wellness rooms, to networking events and workshops, these spaces provide an ecosystem conducive to both professional growth and personal well-being.

The amenities do vary, but most spaces will offer essentials like plug points, high-speed Wi-Fi, printing facilities, and comfortable desks and chairs – everything you need to have a productive day, and get your stuff done. Some even go above and beyond with phone booths, nap pods, event spaces, and even on-site cafes and gyms. The best part? You only pay for what you use, unlike the hefty overhead of a traditional office.

Lots Of Digital Nomads Love Coworking Spaces…

Digital nomads, like me and the rest of the DNA team, find coworking spaces as their haven. 

And for good reason! Coworking offers a solution to one of the main disadvantages of the digital nomad lifestyle: the isolation that often plagues remote workers. These spaces foster a sense of community, allowing you to connect with like-minded individuals, share experiences, and build valuable professional networks. 

You could be swapping travel stories with a content creator from Argentina or brainstorming ideas with a web designer from South Africa – the possibilities for collaboration and inspiration are endless.

But even just sitting and being present in an environment surrounded by others on a similar journey to yourself can help to alleviate some of the isolation that often comes from being a remote worker and/or digital nomad. 

With our nomadic lifestyle, these spaces offer stability and community in the midst of travel chaos. The inherent flexibility of coworking memberships aligns perfectly with the remote work ethos, allowing nomads to work seamlessly from various locations worldwide.

digital nomads networking and coworking in thailand with wifi

Pros Of Coworking Spaces

  • Community & Networking: Opportunities to connect with diverse professionals. Sense of community and belonging, networking opportunities and collaboration, find other remote workers, expats and like-minded folk in unfamiliar environments. 
  • Flexibility: Various membership options suiting different work schedules. Flexible work arrangements and cost savings. Many operate on 24/7 schedules so you don’t have to worry about timezones and late-night meetings. 
  • Productivity: Encouraging atmosphere leading to enhanced work output. Increased productivity and focus from having a dedicated workspace. Encourages work-life balance as you can leave work at the office! Escape from isolation and home office distractions.
  • Amenities: Access to facilities and resources that assist and encourage work and leisure all in one location. 

Cons Of Coworking Spaces

  • Distractions: Potential noise or interruptions in shared spaces.
  • Costs: Membership fees might be higher compared to working from home. Can be expensive in some locations
  • Availability: Popular spaces might face limited availability during peak times. 
  • Adaptability: The atmosphere might not suit everyone’s working preferences.
  • Potential for lack of privacy for confidential work
Digital nomad working from a hammock in thailand

Difference Between Coworking Spaces & Offices

While traditional offices focus on a singular company or industry, coworking spaces are for everyone and anyone, they embrace diversity, fostering a melting pot of professionals from various backgrounds. They prioritise collaboration, creativity, and an open environment, setting them apart from the traditional office culture.

Coworking spaces are designed for independent workers and offer flexible memberships, while traditional offices are typically leased by companies for their employees. Coworking spaces tend to be more open-plan and foster collaboration, while offices prioritise individual workspaces. Ultimately, the choice boils down to your individual needs and preferences.

How Expensive Are Coworking Spaces?

The cost of coworking spaces varies based on location, amenities, and membership plans. On average, monthly memberships can range from a few hundred to several hundred pounds, depending on the facilities and services included. The average price does seem to be trending downwards though thanks to the increasing number of these spaces. 

Hot desks can start as low as $50 per month, while dedicated desks can range from $200 to $500. Some spaces even offer pay-per-use options for occasional users, here in Koh Phangan, Thailand I’ve found some coworking spaces that offer day passes for as little as 250 baht (around $7). You can check out our full list of the best coworking spaces in Koh Phangan here!

The best coworking space for budget travellers

Cafes are typically suggested as a go-to alternative to traditional coworking spaces, and some cafes in digital nomad hotspots even have their own dedicated coworking areas. This is great because you can make use of their setups and wifi for the price of a cup of coffee or two! 

The best coworking space for those on a budget though is the original coworking space – the library! This is one of the few places that has no expectation of you spending money to be there and use their facilities. If you are in a metropolitan area, look for the local library, they are usually free to use for anyone and have great work setups that are underused. 

Conclusion

Coworking spaces have transformed the landscape of remote work, offering a blend of professionalism, community, and flexibility.

For digital nomads and remote workers seeking an environment that marries productivity with a sense of community, coworking spaces stand as an ideal choice.

Embrace the revolution of remote work, explore the vibrant world of coworking, and find a space that resonates with your work style.

Coworking spaces are more than just shared offices; they’re vibrant hubs for the remote work revolution. Whether you’re a seasoned digital nomad or a curious freelancer, these dynamic spaces offer a chance to connect, collaborate, and conquer your to-do list in a stimulating environment. So, ditch the isolation and embrace the coworking revolution. You might just find your next travel adventure, business partner, or even a lifelong friend amidst the laptops and latte art.

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