The Top Four Challenges in Coworking Offices [And How to Address Them]

The end of 2017 saw over 1 million people working out of coworking offices, and as we saw numbers steadily rise even further in 2018, we have noted first-hand some of the challenges facing both coworking offices in London like ours, and the clients using them.

Understanding the negatives as well as the positives about working in a coworking office is vital for progression, success and longevity. That’s why we want to draw attention to the top four challenges we have come across when it comes to coworking spaces, and how we have worked to overcome them as a community.

If you work or are thinking of working in a coworking office, below are four of the hurdles you may find yourself up against, and what you can do to address them in a professional and easy way.

#1 Distractions

Have you ever tried to complete a task in a noisy environment? Whilst there are plenty of people out there who can focus in on their task and blank out any background noise, for the majority of people, noise serves as a huge distraction. With all the will in the world, any coworking office space will face some noisy members; it is simply how we deal with them that makes or breaks a shared office space.

Brainstorming sessions, phones ringing, people chatting, Skype calls, coffee breaks, music through your neighbour’s headphones – these are all very real circumstances you may find yourself in when working from a coworking office. Don’t get us wrong, we understand that coworking spaces like ours require a feeling of flexibility and freedom, but we understand how frustrating it can be for those working hard.

So, what have we done to combat a noisy and distracting atmosphere? It is largely down to communication; firstly communicating with the prospective client that there will be areas of our coworking space that are less quiet than others, but also making it known that there are designated quiet spots available for uninterrupted working. The second thing to do is ensure an unwritten code of conduct applies to all of our workspaces; i.e. yes – you can listen to music, but be respectful of those around you and use headphones at a reasonable volume. We have an entire piece on coworking etiquette that you can find here, but nine times out of ten, it is a pretty easy hurdle to get over, as everyone is there for the same thing.

Our advice would always be to take a tour of any prospective coworking office before signing up and enquire about quiet spots and alternative workspaces.

#2 Connectivity

In this digital era, we find ourselves in, strong Wi-Fi and broadband is an absolute MUST for any coworking office. Your typical shared working space can have up to two hundred members, and each of those can have one, two, even three or more devices on the go at any one time. That is a whole load of internet usage, and a low or even worse, failing, internet service means low or zero productivity.

In order to succeed as a coworking office, you have to be able to offer users a strong and secure internet service. Failure to do so will lower morale, and often mean a loss of members.

We have worked hard to provide ultra-fast, ultra-secure Wi-Fi in all of our coworking spaces. For extra confidence, we have also ensured we have professional on-hand support if an issue does arise.

#3 Personal Workplace Expectations

If you talk to a handful of people who work out of coworking offices, they will probably tell you a number of bugbears that may all be completely different. One of the biggest challenges we have come across is trying to please the masses. One person may say they hate the smell of food whilst they’re working, whilst another may complain about it being too cold or hot. In many ways, some of the biggest hurdles are all down to personal workplace expectations, and this is when things can become tricky.

Ultimately, we strive to make a relaxing, comfortable and easy-going atmosphere for all of our members, but sometimes it can be difficult catering to the masses. A survey showed that just 54% of office workers felt the temperature of their work environment was optimal, with 27% finding it too hot and 19% finding it too cold. These statistics demonstrate how difficult it can be to cater to everyone.

There are certainly things we have done in order to improve the workplace environment. For instance, we have an unwritten rule, much like the one about noise, that people refrain from eating strong smelling food at their desk. We provide free coffee and have tried to obtain an idyllic temperature to work to. However, it is quite impossible to please everyone and so we ask that people with specific requirements check out their space first to avoid disappointment.

#4 Flexibility

One of the main draws of a coworking space in London is the flexibility it offers to its members. Fancy a day out of the home office? Want to work in a change of scenery? Feel uninspired and want to meet other likeminded people? A coworking office can offer all of the above and has been shown to boost feelings of autonomy, morale and productivity.

A successful coworking space, therefore, must offer flexibility in order to maintain long-term members, and bring in more. Things such as opening hours can make a huge difference in how likely someone is to become a member. Consider the business you are in, do you need 24/7 access to your workspace?

Along with working hours, there are things such as package options to consider. If you are a freelance writer who is saving money by working from home but wants a change of scenery once a week then a flexible day-by-day payment scheme would be ideal. However, if the option for an all singing, all dancing package isn’t there, some of the larger groups of professionals may look elsewhere.

A coworking office with a range of packages to offer flexibility and a good deal will do much better than one that only offers one standard package. People want the option to make their own decisions at the end of the day, and flexibility is key to this.

We currently offer a range of flexible packages across our sites to cater to a variety of different members’ needs.

Get In Touch

Areaworks have three sites located across London that offer flexibility, great facilities and above all else, a wonderful community (we have more launching soon so be sure to watch this space!). If you would like to take a tour around one of our sites, why not get in touch, we would love to share a brew and show you around!