Coworking vs. Cafe working

by Janna Marlies Maron on October 24, 2011

Editor’s note: this is a guest post by ThinkHouse Collective associate member, Ronnie Nurss.

If you are a freelancer or someone who works from home, chances are you have attempted to get work done at the local coffee shop.  I have.

And why not?

I mean, you get your caffeine fix, get hooked up with free wifi, and get to snuggle in between the table of soccer moms bragging about their 7-year-old’s worldly accomplishments and the multilevel marketer seducing his latest victim with the next best get-rich scheme.

Then you go back home after a couple hours wasted on people-watching, eavesdropping on irrelevant conversations, and tuning out the barista’s playlist accompanied by the never-ending blender.

Just another day at the office, right?

Working out of cafes and coffee shops full-time is overrated. But there is an alternative.  I’ve finally found it.

It’s called coworking.

Working with strangers vs. Working within a community

Working at a coffee shop is a romantic idea, but in reality, it’s kind of lonely.  I’m not counting the 45 seconds of shameless flirting with the cute barista.  Besides that, most people are engaged in an intimate conversation or pretending to look busy on their laptop.  Most people shun any possible social interaction by plugging in the headphones.

Coworking on the other hand, you work within a community, with other like-minded individuals. Everyone has his or her own purposeful projects focused on things that they actually like to do.  Coworking is all about collaboration too and you will never find a short supply of help, brainstorming buddies, or a hearty shared laugh with a fellow coworker.

Weapons of mass distraction vs. mass collaboration

Trying to get quality work done in a coffee shop is like trying to lose weight on the Krispy Kreme diet…it’s impossible.  And I’m talking about real, quality work.  Being productive instead of busy.  The constant blending of $5 coffee drinks, people walking in and out, or the awkward first dates you may witness.

It’s hard to take an important phone call or to have a serious Skype meeting with a client in the midst of all the constant distraction.  Coworking offers mass collaboration.  Since you are working within a community, you have qualified and knowledgeable group of people to brainstorm ideas with, get expertise from, or just have a good time in general.

Spending $$$ vs. Investing $$$

Working at the local coffee shop, you spend money.  You have to.  You spend it daily on the coffee, which seems to be the cover charge for you to hang out there.  Every coffee equals two hours, maybe three if you stretch it.  Want to work longer, then you get that guilty feeling and feel enticed to buy the second, unnecessary coffee.  And you do this for weak wifi connection (since 20 others squeeze what they can from it).  You are not even guaranteed a desk to work at. You are spending money and you get what you pay for; a lousy work environment.

Coworking is like a gym for entrepreneurs and small business owners.  The coworking space gives you all the tools and amenities you need; secure Internet connection, plenty of desk space, printing, scanning, mail service, everything.  The most important and valuable benefit of coworking, though, is the community. But of course gyms, at least the good ones, are not free.  And you will be amazed at how little the monetary difference is between coworking and working at the coffee shop.

Don’t take my word for it.  Try coworking out.

Ronnie Nurss lives life with the goal of becoming the most interesting man in the world, or at least in Sacramento.  Follow Ronnie on Twitter @RonnieNurss and on his blog, The Meditations.

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