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Melissa Eisenberg serves at the Marketing Director for WisePricer, a real-time repricing engine for online retailers. As a journalist turned startup girl, she has worked with publishing and digital media industries in NYC, LA and SF, specializing in SEO, copywriting and website development.

Some call it coworking. Others call it shared offices. I would like to call it study hall. It is the land of little privacy, high convenience, crowded refrigerators, and amazing innovation.

For every business or startup considering the idea of coworking, there are some things you should know. After and coworking at several spaces around the world, and speaking to some coworking pros, I have compiled a go-to list of pros and cons when choosing a space to co-conduct business.

First, some of the cons

Personality is a primary consideration when contending with the challenges of coworking. If you are an introvert who values privacy and quiet, coworking may not be for you.

Todd Goldstein, CEO of LaunchHouse, a coworking space and accelerator program, contends that your working style has a lot of weight. “Unless you are really focused, a working space can be a huge distraction,” he said. Depending on how you manage your time, some of the benefits to coworking can get in the way of executing.

“As great as it is to have resources, sometimes those resources can be overwhelming, “ he said. “We have gambit of resources, from IP attorneys to app developers and sometimes entrepreneurs don’t know who to work with first.”

Equally so, if you have never been to a coworking space, you should know that every aspect of working is, well, shared. So if you don’t like helping out here and there, coworking may not be for you. As an experienced community builder for coworking spaces around the globe, Samantha Kanofsky believes that divas should leave their attitude at the door.

“People who do the best in coworking spaces like to pitch in, they don’t need an assistant handing them coffee,” she said.

Other cons: shared bathrooms, crowded refrigerators, perpetually unclean coffee zones, and lack of privacy.

But the benefits often outweigh the negatives

But frankly, for most startups and entrepreneurs, coworking spaces have more benefits than challenges. Most importantly, coworking opens you up to a copious number of resources, including networking opportunities, new ideas, and highly skilled professionals.

For example, Tiago Forte, a project manager at Parisoma, has found that the biggest advantage of coworking is the serendipitous interactions that further business ideas.

“Those random, unexpected meetings with people who either have an idea to share or can give you feedback, really benefit new businesses,” he said.

Equally so, coworking spaces host a myriad of events for their coworkers. According to Goldstein, these coworking events can help entrepreneurs and startups take their ideas to the next level. “We put on different types of events, from teaching basic bookkeeping to bringing in world-renowned VC’s that startups can bounce their ideas off of,” he said. “The goal is to better the companies that cowork with us.”

On a more functional note, coworking spaces are incredibly convenient. “A lot of people originally came for the basics; high speed internet, a desk, coffee, and ended up staying for the community and support,” according to Kanofsky. Coworking spaces are incredibly cost-effective, as a stable, ready location without the overhead of an office.

Other pros: plug and play workspace, worldwide networking, and access to innovators.

If you’re considering coworking, here are a few additional things to consider from Melanie Duve, Community Outreach Coordinator at Wix Lounge:

  • Composition of the community (demographics)
  • Proximity
  • Price (and amenities)
  • Physical layout of space (comfort level)

With all of this on the figurative (shared) table, there are plenty of places all over the world that your business can excel — you can usually find one in your community at DeskWanted.

Assuming you are driven, flexible, and sociable, coworking can be a great, affordable option to grow as a business.

photo credit: hyku via photopin cc

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