Nov 08, 2011

Is coworking a passing fad or is it a concept that shows the future of office space utilization?

Coworking, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the concept of setting up offices with an emphasis on open space being shared among employees. No cubicals, not focused offices with doors, just shared desks in a space with an open floorplan, whether it be within a single company or a shared space with perhaps a dozen entrepreneurs sitting at their computers in an environment more like a university library than a Dilbert cartoon. It has been mostly a west coast thing, but I am waiting to see whether it will spread and become a popular business model. Is it likely to catch on?


I think it is most useful for small companies that are just starting up and are undercapitalized.  And by small, I mean really small; one person startups, or perhaps a new business with just a few people.  It is cost effective, at least in the short term, to pay to share resources necessary to run a business such as copiers, office space, high speed internet access, etc.  Some types of mature business may work well in this model, especially those that require frequent cooperation and coordination, but I'm not sure how effective it would be for many people like myself who value quiet and at least a modicum of privacy and have difficulty mainting focus in the face of distraction.  One aspect that I would find very beneficial for single person businesses is that it gets one away from a home office, where it can be challenging to devote one's full attention to the business of business.  I know that when I am at my desk at home trying to get some work done, I spend a disproportionate amount of time removing cats from keyboards or answering questions about how much longer it will be before I am done. 

I suppose it might. But personally I'd rather it didn't. Cubicles are bad enough in terms of a lack of privacy. It's quite distracting having other people talking, typing, etc. when you are trying to get something done.

So maybe this will catch on and maybe it won't. But is it really good for productivity? For some people, maybe. But for others like myself the answer is no. We'd rather have a more private space to work in that is free of distractions and noise.
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