Working at Coworking Spaces versus Working at a Cafe — Which Is Best For Me?
Are the overall costs significantly lower if one chooses to work at a cafe instead of a coworking space? When am I ready to transition from working at a cafe to a proper coworking space without risking too much?
In this article, we teased out the nitty gritty details of working at coworking spaces versus working at a cafe based on your current situation. This article serves as a guide for you to help make your decision-making process a little less painful. Bear in mind that not everyone will share the same business type, financial situation, and other factors such as available cafe and coworking options, but you might find one that you can relate most to.
The new entrepreneur who’s just quit her 9-5 job with a good idea and a bit of savings
Jane recently quit her sales job at an international firm to build her first business. She has adequate savings to tide her through the next year. The city she lives in offers a myriad of cafes and coworking options, none of which take more than an hour to travel to. She decides to go with the idea of working at a cafe, as this offers her the flexibility she needs to meet potential clients and the option to change the work environment as she pleases, something she looks forward to after spending the past 5 years commuting to the same office. She also does not want to be tied down to a lease, as most coworking spaces require a commitment of 6-12 months and two months of rent paid upfront.
Work at a cafe
* City offers many choices of cafes and coworking spaces
* Cafe does not require long commutes from home
* Most cafes offer a good selection of decently-priced food and beverages, high-speed and reliable wifi, adequate seating, and laptop charging points.
* Brand new, untested business idea that is not proven to be profitable — e.g. still at ideation/prototyping stage
Jane’s personal preferences:
* A frequent change of work environment is preferred over commuting to the same office space every day. As most cafes in her city offer wifi and charging points, she’s free to choose which ones she wants to work from.
* Does not want to be tied to a lease: after having quit her 9-5 sales job, Jane prefers not to be tied down to a lease commitment yet. She feels this may be necessary at a later stage of her business, and not at this point when her business is still in its infancy.
Note: “Some savings” here is pretty vague — for some, this could be a three-digit sum, and for others, this could mean having a six-digit sum of money sitting in the bank with no loans or debt to repay. Regardless, you want to ensure that you have at least a 6-months runway for you to live on should your business be unprofitable or worse, fold. The first thing a new entrepreneur should do (before quitting the 9-5) is to estimate how much she or he would need to live on for the next six months.
A freelancer who runs a profitable freelancing gig for a couple of months
John has been freelancing as a digital marketing and SEO expert for the past 8 months, has a decent client base and recurring profits each month. He spends most of his time working at cafes in his city and is perfectly comfortable with his current situation. Several new coworking spaces started popping up around the district he lives in, offering reliable and fast wifi which he can benefit from as this offers him a better work experience than at a cafe of his choice.
Explore coworking spaces
* City offers many choices of cafes and coworking spaces
* Cafes and new coworking spaces do not require long commutes from home
* Most cafes do not offer high-speed and reliable wifi, adequate seating, or laptop charging points.
* Earning profits each month from freelance work, has savings
John’s personal preferences:
* Although he is comfortable working from cafes with slower and less-reliable wifi, John is open to exploring options that offer a better work experience. With better wifi connection, he would be able to work twice as fast and improve the video call quality with his international clients, something he thinks would make the business experience better for his clients.
* After spending the last 8 months hopping from one cafe to another, the thought of having a proper workstation where he could keep his laptop and business materials at sounds like an ideal option.
* With a profitable freelance gig and savings, John is fine with signing a lease agreement and committing to a coworking space for the long-term, if the conditions of the coworking space meet his needs.
* Coworking spaces also offer fully decked-out meeting rooms which he could use when meeting his clients, something he feels could increase the professional image of himself and his business.
Note: If you find yourself in a similar situation, keep yourself open to different coworking spaces available and the benefits each coworking space could bring to you and your business. The different rates that each coworking space is an important consideration, but there are other factors such as the kind of network you will be exposed to and the nature of the coworking space that you have to take into consideration as well. Some coworking spaces are known to conduct after-work drinks and hold many events each week, which may or may not be your cup of tea.
Remember, everyone’s situation is unique. You may find Jane’s situation more relatable at this point, or perhaps it is John’s situation that you can relate better to, but there are some nuances and differences unique to your own situation.
To make things easier for you, here are some factors you will want to consider when you’re making your pros and cons list:
On opportunity cost:
1. Will my business benefit from the network available at the coworking space I’m looking at?
2. What is the amount of time I can expect to spend commuting to and from my choice of a cafe or coworking space?
1. What are the available options I have when choosing a cafe or coworking space to work from?
2. Does the cafe or coworking space offer my preferred working environment?
3. What are the other perks I can think of/expect when working at a cafe or coworking space of my choice?
1. Is my business currently profitable, or am I still reaching a break-even point?
2. Does the savings in my bank offer me enough reassurance to commit to a coworking space? If so, am I willing to spend some of that money on a coworking space?
3. How much can I expect to spend for a coworking space on a monthly basis? How much can I expect to spend at a cafe each month?
Are you a coworking space owner, or an entrepreneur who’d like to share your reasons for your choice and your experience? Join like-minded entrepreneurs like yourself on our Facebook Group and see what everyone else has to say! Your experience and advice could help fellow entrepreneurs!