Over the past five years, I have worked from home as well as renting a shared office space for my writing business. During the pandemic, more people than ever started working from home. As restrictions are slowly being lifted and people are getting vaccinated, many are considering renting a spot in a co-working space. Here are the pros and cons of both lifestyles.
Please keep in mind that while I share a lot of my personal experience in this post, it doesn’t necessarily represent all shared office spaces as a whole. I encourage you to find legitimate reviews on Google of the specific co-working spaces near you.
What It’s Really Like to Rent a Shared Office Space
The Shared Office May Be Louder Than You Think
In 2016, I rented my own private office in a hallway with other people who had offices, too. The building manager promised that it was a very quiet place. This turned out to be a total lie. Traffic from the street was very loud, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The walls of my shared office were paper thin. So I could hear every single word the person was saying in the office next to mine. This man was an insurance salesman, so as you can imagine, he was talking on the phone all day long. We were only a few feet apart, so I could hear every single work he was saying, crystal clear. This made me feel self conscious about my own phone calls, knowing that he could hear me. I felt that I couldn’t play music or listen to podcasts, either.
If you rent a cubicle or shared office space, it’s very likely that you will go through the same experience. You have no idea what these other people do for their jobs. And even though I paid for a private office with a closed door, that didn’t stop the noise from coming through the walls. I personally need peace and quiet to get my writing done. I would try to wear headphones to make it less distracting, but I could still hear his voice. It made the fact that I rented an office completely pointless. The whole point in renting an office is to have fewer distractions compared to being at home!
You May (Or May Not) Meet New People, and Form Professional Connections
One of the things that people like the most about renting a shared office space is the fact that you get to meet new people. When you’re self-employed or simply work from home, it’s really difficult to get any social interaction. For some people, this is a huge plus. If you live in a city with a hip We Work location, there are testimonials that claim that they have met great friends in their 20’s and 30’s through a co-working space. That may be true, especially if they offer mixers and other social events.
However, my personal experience was dramatically different from what you see on TV. I’m in a suburban part of New Jersey, and it’s not exactly a location where hot young entrepreneurs want to live. So I was the youngest person renting in my building. I couldn’t relate to anyone there, or make new friends. At the time, I was in my 20’s. Everyone else was in their 40’s to 60’s. They were all married with kids, and were more focused on working and going home immediately at 5PM. After I left, I no longer keep in touch with any of those people. I found that I preferred to make my own friends outside of work, and the shared office did absolutely nothing to help my social life.
You Can Write Off Your Home Office Space, Too
Some people want to rent an office space is that they can write it off as a business expense. But did you know that you can write off your home office, too? This is calculated by the square footage used for your office in your home. So if you have a two-bedroom apartment and one of the bedrooms is used as an office, you can do the math to figure out how to deduct your existing rent. Doing your taxes this way might actually save more money in the long run. For more information on home office deductions, check out the IRS website.
You’re Still Commuting
Having your own office seems very glamorous, until you begin to live the day-to-day reality. You think that you would enjoy going to your own office every day more than a regular job, but that’s not always the case. The process of getting up with an alarm, rolling out of bed, and looking presentable are all the same. So is the traffic during your morning commute.
With that being said, some people actually prefer that lifestyle, because they need that sense of structure in their day to get themselves motivated. And by paying the rent on the office space, it motivates them to get up and use the office to the fullest to be productive. But if you have no issues being productive from home, I would say it’s not necessary.
It Can Be Even More Isolating Than Working From Home
When you first get an office space, it feels amazing. It’s like you’ve unlocked an achievement for Adulting 3.0. But after the initial thrill wore off, I began to dread going into the office. Instead of driving to see my old co-workers and friends, I was going to a small office to be alone and isolated. It was actually far less isolating for me to stay home with my family than it was to go to a building where no one talked to me for 8 hours a day.
If you currently live alone, you might be hoping that you could have more social interaction by getting an office. This may or may not de true, depending on the layout of the office space. But try to appreciate the things you can do at home, like taking naps, answering the phone, and talking openly on Zoom. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side.
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