Have you just entered the digital nomad, remote work world? You might be hearing the phrase coworking a lot, but still asking yourself…
…”What is a coworking space?!”
Most digital nomads, remote workers and entrepreneurs use this term on a daily basis and it’s because it’s become part of the lifestyle.
In this blog post, we are going to share the definition of a coworking space, what features you can expect from one, how much they typically cost and why you might need to join one in the future.
Quick Answer: What Is A Coworking Space?
Summary: A coworking space is a shared working environment where digital nomads, remote workers, freelancers, startups and entrepreneurs pay a monthly fee to use the space to get their respective work done. Coworking spaces offer more than just a hot desk – they tend to build community, organize social/educational events and usually offer the fastest wifi in the area.
Why Are Coworking Spaces Becoming Popular?
There are 35 million people who identify as digital nomads, according to the latest digital nomad statistics. Yes, 35 million!
The future of work is remote, at least that’s what we believe and the coworking movement will grow with it. Coworking spaces facilitate a productive, collaborative work environment for anyone that works remotely. Ever since the pandemic, most people have experienced some form of remote work whether that’s working from home, a cafe or a coworking space.
Coworking spaces are only going to become more popular with this revolution of work and it’s a great opportunity to open one (for those thinking about opening one). The boom of startups also makes coworking spaces very attractive – which is also why places like WeWork became so popular.
Although, we think there’s a big difference between a coworking chain vs an independently owned coworking. A coworking chain can be found in most major cities and they offer a huge range of benefits with a hefty price tag. An independently owned coworking space is much more personalized, you’ll usually meet the owners and while the spaces aren’t gigantic – they are very welcoming and caring.
Overall, as we’ve been digital nomads since 2018 – we can say that it’s only growth from here for coworking spaces around the world. We see more people going from “What is a coworking space?!” to “Obviously I know what coworking is..”, at least that’s our hope!
What Is A Coworking Space? All You Need To Know
A coworking space is more than just your traditional office.
You get to work amongst some very cool people, be productive, have fast, reliable wifi and a dedicated space to work. In this article, we will share everything you need to know about a coworking space even if you’ve never heard of it before!
Why Do Coworking Spaces Exist?
What makes businesses successful?
Well, it’s usually because of something very simple – they offer a solution to a problem.
As the remote work revolution continues to grow, there is just one problem with this digital nomad lifestyle. And that’s that it can be very isolating and lonely. In fact, it’s the number #1 reason people decide to return home and stop this traveling lifestyle. When you work online and travel full-time, it’s hard to make friends and get to know people in the area. Even as a digital nomad couple, we still feel lonely at times.
How do you solve this problem? You join a coworking space!
That’s right, coworking means more than just a place to sit your butt down and work for 6-8 hours a day! You can work, meet people and attend social/educational events. That’s why coworking spaces exist and they have become popular in recent years.
What Do Coworking Spaces Typically Include?
Coworking spaces vary based on so many factors. But there are some things that you can expect to have in every coworking space you visit around the world. Here’s what they usually include in your monthly membership:
- monthly unlimited access
- hot desk (any space that’s free when you arrive, you can take)
- coworking community of like-minded people
- social events and activities
- educational events and activities
- phone booths (for meetings and/or recording podcasts)
- partner discounts (of local businesses in the area)
- dedicated wifi network for members only
- locker space
- x number of free pages of printing
- some coworking spaces allow 24/7 access
That’s a lot of amenities, right?!
Are you starting to see that it’s more than just glorified office space? A coworking space gives you the flexibility to change up your environment every month and the whole aesthetic alone will keep you inspired in your work. Not to mention the kind of people you will meet.
What Does A Coworking Space Look Like?
Coworking spaces look different wherever you go. There’s no one-size-fits-all which is great because you’ll never get bored of coworking anywhere in the world.
You have coworking spaces that look more like a traditional office where you get a dedicated desk (we tend to avoid these ones). You’ll have other coworking spaces that offer a more creative, collaborative space that’s pretty quirky. This is what I mean by that – you’ll have coworking spaces that have hammocks, swimming pools, nap areas, bean bags and so much more that you will never find in traditional office spaces.
We have coworked from spaces that had really comfortable ergonomic chairs and other spaces that only had wooden chairs and tables. The coworking space can look different based on where you are – for example, it’s normal for a coworking space in Chiang Mai to have nice ergonomic chairs. But while we were in Bali, it seemed normal for coworking spaces to have simple, wooden chairs that you couldn’t sit in for too long.
The desk sizes also depend on quite a lot. Our personal preference is a long rectangular table where 6-8 people can fit and feel the coworking vibes. We don’t like coworking spaces that have put up barriers giving us nightmares of cubicle office space lol.
Most coworking spaces will have plenty of natural light – something I need to be productive! The environment is usually very open and airy as well. They will have quirky design elements and features such as a hammock, bean bag, swimming pool, meeting/podcast booth, cafe/bar and so much more.
Need private offices? Other than the hot-desk style setup, most coworking spaces also offer private offices for businesses with a team of 2-6 people. You can also get a single private office within the coworking if you need the privacy and space to yourself.
Who Uses Coworking Spaces?
There’s not really a certain type of person that’s only allowed to use coworking spaces. You’ll find lots of different people (self-employed vs employed) doing cool things in a wide range of industries – that’s what makes coworking spaces much more interesting!
You’ll mostly find freelancers, startup founders, business owners, remote workers with a 9-5 and digital nomads who do their own thing. Some people have really small businesses with only a few clients and others might have a large business and team behind them.
A coworking space is for anyone who needs to get outside and work remotely in a dedicated space.
Who uses coworking spaces? Anyone, really! But if you are a:
- digital nomad
- remote worker
- online entrepreneur
- startup founder
You’re amongst the right crowd of people. As fully remote people, you need a reliable place to set up for work, do what needs to get done and call it a day! If you can’t rely on your Airbnb or the coffee shops in the area, a coworking is always a reliable option for you!
Remember the problem that coworking solves that I mentioned above? Coworking can help reduce this sense of loneliness because you are seeing people every day and working amongst each other.
What Are The Benefits Of Coworking Space?
Sure, a traditional office space will work for any type of worker. But what are the benefits of coworking spaces exactly? There are actually quite a few and we think that it will only continue to expand. Here are some advantages of coworking spaces for digital nomads, remote workers and business owners:
- Reduced Sense of Loneliness
- Gives You A Routine/Schedule
- High-Speed Wifi Guarantee
- Host Educational/Social Activities For Members
- Gets You Outside The House
Those are only some of the benefits of coworking spaces. If you want to learn more, we wrote an extensive article on all the benefits we’ve experienced coworbenefiking over the last couple of years.
If you want a space where you can meet inspiring people, get your work done (productively) and always have reliable wifi – you’ll love being a member of a coworking space.
What Are The Disadvantages Of A Coworking Space?
Coworking is nowhere near perfect. There are some flaws and annoyances you might experience when joining a coworking space. Here are the disadvantages of coworking spaces that we’ve experienced over the years:
- Upfront Monthly Costs
- Disrupted Work Flow (at times)
- Having To Commute Again
- Network Privacy/Security Issues
Some people just don’t like coworking too! It’s not their vibe, it’s not their thing. We have heard several people saying, “I just escaped the office, why would I go back to an office environment?!” which is pretty fair! These people usually end up working from home or coffee shops instead (which have their pros and cons in and of themselves).
It’s up to you and the kind of lifestyle you want live. For example, if you move around a lot faster then a coworking space might not make sense. But if you’re like us and move every month or more, a coworking space is still a great option to have a dedicated workspace.
How Much Do Coworking Spaces Typically Cost?
The costs vary a lot from so many different factors. It could depend on the city, the kinds of amenities they offer, the location of the space, how active/inactive the community is and how well the owners look after the space.
I’m not going to leave you with just an “it depends” answer though because that helps no one! I could give you a price range but that also doesn’t really help to pull numbers out from the sky lol. I’ll do you one better and simply state the prices we paid for each coworking space and you can see for yourself the price range.
Here’s how much we typically paid for coworking spaces around the world (in USD):
- 🇹🇭 Chiang Mai, Thailand: $70 / month
- 🇮🇩 Bali, Indonesia: $183 / month
- 🇨🇴 Medellin, Colombia: $114 / month
- 🇬🇹 Antigua, Guatemala: $162 / month
- 🇲🇽 Playa del Carmen, Mexico: $180 / month
- 🇵🇹 Lisbon, Portugal: $200 / month
- 🇭🇷 Zagreb, Croatia: $250 / month
As you can see, there’s a big range depending on where you cowork in the world. Whenever we are digital nomads in Europe, we stray away from coworking because they are usually very corporate and very expensive. If you are in Latin America or Southeast Asia, we have experienced some of the best coworking spaces there and they won’t cost an arm and a leg!
How To Find A Coworking Space Anywhere
Not sure where to start finding a coworking space? It’s pretty simple: You just Google it! This is how we do it:
- Google “coworking “_insert name of city_”
- Read some blogs to understand the different types of coworking available
- Pick 2-3 spaces you want to check out/commit to a daily pass
- Do your day pass at each space to see if you like it
- If you do, sign up directly at the front desk/reception.
We never book a coworking space in advance or online. It’s important to check out the space first to see if it’s somewhere you can enjoy working and double-check if the community is actually active. We’ve been to some that just have zero stuff going on (but we’ll blame it on the pandemic 🤪).
You can also find the best coworking spaces through the ‘local FB digital nomad groups” as most people will share their favorite spots (that might not be on Google or blog posts yet).
There are coworking chains like Regus and WeWork if you want a more office-like feel and management. The costs tend to be much higher than the independent-owned coworking space but it’s a reliable option in most major cities.
Coworking vs Work From Home vs Work From Cafes
One of the long-standing debates between digital nomads is whether to work:
- from a coworking space
- from a cafe or
- from home
Personally, I’m not productive at home so we don’t even really try to work from home. This also depends greatly on whether your Airbnb has a decent enough work/kitchen table to work from, otherwise, you might be creating a make-shift desk. This option does work best for people that have to take a lot of calls – for example, coaches or consultants might need to work from home because it’s too noisy at a cafe and the coworking space might not have a meeting booth.
A lot of people enjoy working in cafes because it’s fun, inspiring and high-paced. Some might see this as a distraction but others thrive from it. Matthew doesn’t enjoy working from cafes like I do and we kind of mix it up from time to time.
Are Coworking Spaces Worth it?
Hopefully, this has answered your question of “What is a coworking space?”.
Now that you know what a coworking space is – is it worth signing up?
Yes, coworking spaces are worth it if you need to get some productive work done, meet like-minded people and have a dedicated space to work. If you want a real change of environment every single day then maybe a coffee shop would work better for you. You just need to constantly find a cafe with fast wifi, ample amount of plugs and owners happy for you to sit there for a while (which can actually be pretty hard).
We personally love coworking spaces when they are designed and managed really well. Coworking spaces can be a great way to meet fellow digital nomads who will inspire you. They are also a reliable place to get fast wifi and a comfortable place to sit for 6-8 hours a day. There are lots of types of coworking spaces but we personally enjoy the ones that are independently owned with a real heart for community, for example, Coworking Bansko.
Have you tried a coworking space before? Comment below your thoughts and let us know!