If you’re a full-time freelancer, budgeting for taxes and saving for retirement aren’t the only things you have to worry about. You also probably have to buy your own health insurance, plan around missed income for time off and, of course, force yourself to stay productive during the day. Self-employed bosses who crave office interaction often turn to co-working spaces to satisfy this need, but there are pluses and minuses to replicating an office environment by renting a desk. We’ve collected the biggest pros and cons you’ll want to consider.
1. Networking: If you decide to invest in a co-working spot, be sure to bring along your business cards, because working from a spot that’s packed with other freelancers and entrepreneurs can be great for building connections. Not only will you have the opportunity to make new friends, but more importantly you’ll also expand your professional network. If you’re a writer, there may be a graphic designer at the desk next to yours who can whip up graphics for a killer website; if you’re a web designer, you could meet an editor who can ensure your site’s verbiage is fit to impress.
2. Meeting Space: If your business includes meeting regularly with clients, a co-working space could practically be a necessity. Most spots are beautifully styled and convey a professional ambiance… And there’s a certain suggestion of professional success that’s communicated by taking meetings somewhere more upscale than your living room.
3. Productivity: Many freelancers struggle with staying productive when they work from home. It’s not surprising — with no one looking over your shoulder, it’s way too easy to scroll through your Instagram feed for a lot longer than you planned. And taking a nap is SO tempting when your bed is right there looking all warm n’ comfy. Getting yourself out of the house and into an office where everyone else is working could be just the push you need to keep you focused.
1. Cost: Working at home is essentially free (and can even get you a tax credit if you’re careful about blocking out a work-exclusive space), while reserving a spot at a co-working space is like tacking a second rent line onto your monthly budget. Prices will vary by location, but even unassigned hot desks in prime locations can start at $300 per month, with fancier options such as reserved, dedicated workspaces topping $700 per month in cities like New York where space is at a premium. Considering that coffee shops are also free (minus the cost of your lattes), shelling out for a co-working space may look less than attractive, especially when you’re still in the startup phase.
2. Dedicated Desk Availability: All co-working spaces are different, but most offer at least a couple of different pricing plans. One option will simply include hot-desk access to the office, where you plunk down for the day wherever you can find an open spot, while another, pricier plan will include reserving a dedicated desk for only you to use. If you don’t splurge on the latter, you won’t have a desk of your own, which means you’ll have to cart all your materials to and from the space every day and won’t have any predictability about whom you’re working near.
3. Commute: Although you may be more productive at a co-working space, it’s worth noting that you’ll have to *get* there. Unless you’re lucky enough to find an office spot right down the street, this can take a sizable chunk of time out of your day. It will also increase your transportation spending — and since you’re going to and from a regular workspace, unlike business travel, your commuting costs won’t be tax-deductible.