A few weeks ago, my friend and I were discussing office spaces and I told him that I been a member of my local co-working space for some time now.
He looked at me with a puzzled expression stating, “Why would you waste money on a co-working space when there are plenty of coffee shops like Starbucks all over the city?” Understanding where he was coming from, I did believe that setting up your freelance “Dev shop” in a coffee shop was the way any Lean developer/designer/freelance writer should go about running their business. But then I took the time and analyzed the opportunity cost of joining my local co-working space versus working from Starbucks.
For this comparison I looked at the following factors:
1. Cost — How much am I spending monthly?
2. Environment — What is going around me?
3. Connections — Who am I meeting?
Let’s expand on the example of working from a Starbucks over a 30 day period. On average I would spend the following in a given day:
- 2 drinks @ $3/drink = $6
- A snack @ $2 = $2
- Lunch @ $6 = $6
Total = $14
When extrapolated over 30 days = $14/day * 30 days = $420/month
Even if I chose to have only two drinks a day the price is still = $6 * 30 = $180/month
Now let’s look at co-working spaces. Co-working spaces have existed for some time now, but have gain popularity due to the rise of startup companies looking for a low cost office space to work from.
The average co-working space cost in America today is around $250 / month, depending on the city’s cost of living and the amenities they provide.
Most co-working spaces offer the following amenities:
1- Meeting rooms
4- Office supplies
5- High speed internet
At Start Houston I am paying $199/month which includes free energy drinks, coffee, snacks, showers, printing, and meeting rooms.
Compared to going to Starbucks, working from Start Houston saves me money and offers me more.
Let’s now look at the environment of the coffee shop compared to a co-working space. Anyone who has ever been to a coffee shop knows there are highs and lulls to the day to day activity. In a typical day, I would see an influx of activity at the following three times:
1. In the morning (5AM — 9AM)
2. Lunch rush (11 AM– 1 PM)
3. Afternoon ( 5 PM — 7PM)
That being said, during these times I really got to hear the hustle and bustle of customers ordering from underpaid baristas.
Now in a co-working space, it can be quite noisy if not more noisy than at a coffee shop and at an inconsistent rate. In fact, there could be fellow developers working on bugs from 10PM to 3 AM in the morning.
At most coffee shops, after 5pm, the noise tends to wind down until the shop closes.
At Start Houston, there are moments of high noise, but overall it is quite peaceful. Overall, I would side with a coffee shop’s noise than a co-working space.
Now this is probably the biggest differing point between coffee shops and co-working spaces. It’s the connections.
When it comes to coffee shops, their primary purpose is to provide coffee, teas, and food. They were never meant to be used for running your business out of. Therefore, many people come with a narrow objective in mind. They are going to get coffee and meet with people they already know, or simply get their coffee to go. There is very little interaction amongst other patrons.
At Start Houston and other co-working spaces I have been a part of, everyone wants others to succeed. There are many collaborative efforts in place to make sure each venture gets a mentor, funding, and other vital resources they need. In addition, at the end of every month there is a “Pitch Night” that allows entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to potential investors.
At a coffee shop, you could tell other patrons what you’re working on, but they might look at you as being too “pushy”. Or offer a simple, “that’s a cool idea,” but nothing much afterwards.
So if you’re like me and are wavering between joining a co-working space or working from your local coffee shop, just take the leap for one month. I promise you won’t regret it.
If you like this post, please let me know. Tell me what experiences you have had at a co-working spaces.
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