Coworking Spaces vs Cafes

I love coffee shop culture. I’ve been lucky to travel to every continent outside Antarctica and experience caffeinated gathering spots on all of them. (I’d feel sad except I hear Antarctica’s coffee game is weak.)

I appreciate, too, as someone who works for myself just how critical getting out of the house can be to sanity, productivity and morale. Often, the best place to plop yourself down is a coffee shop.

Why, even Forbes has weighed in to tell us why coffee shops are valuable spots to work.

They are. There’s coffee, obviously. Snacks and perhaps some light ambient folk music. Still, when it comes to a regular place to work, coworking spaces may offer more for the average remote working Joe than a place that sells (even above-average) cups of joe.

Everyone knows a change of pace/environment/ is good for creativity/focus/productivity.

If you work from home, there are plenty of things to be distracted by. I wrote about them. Or you might be hoping for a spark of inspiration. But just like you want to work, all parts of your job might not mesh well with coffee shop culture.

See the faces on the poor folks around Dev? You might not be auditioning for a horror film, but those faces are the people listening to your video chat and conference call. It’s nearly impossible to be soft spoken and heard in a cafe. I’ve tried.

It’s also hard to focus during the lunchtime crunch or after school rush. You can be on deadline but that field trip of middle schoolers doesn’t care. It’s a great change of pace, but to a pace you can’t predict. It could be crowded or loud or cold or hot.

But, yes, breaking up the monotony is a great thing, for you. Let’s say you can go head down and pound out that work. So many creative ideas! Well done! One of the major complaints of coffee shop owners is more people staring endlessly at their screens, making for a silo vibe in what should be a social space. It’s worth bearing in mind whether you’re adding to the culture or hindering it.

Coworking spaces are built for focus and productivity. With zones perfect for when you need a distraction and when you don’t — social spots and kitchens for chatter, spaces for working with noise, spots to go head-down when you need to — it’s possible to get the various vibes you need in one spot and know it’s what that spot is there for.

You Can Build Community and Connections.

But you interact at a coffee shop! You might meet your next business partner or client at a coffee shop. You can chat up anyone who sits down near you. What, though, are the odds you’ll find your new co-founder?

More than likely, you’re seated next to someone else with earbuds and a look of determination to get things done. Or you’re seated next to a first date, a family out for a treat, a group of teens and a Unicorn frapuccino. Sure, you may get to be on a first name basis with the barista but coffee shops are not prime networking opportunities.

Good thing coworking spaces attract the kind of folks you want to meet. Meeting likeminded people, connecting with someone who can further your business and learning from everyone around you is not just in most spaces’ missions, it’s hardwired into the way the space is designed. It’s also part of their programming, with lunch and learns, networking opportunities and

Check Out That Free Wifi!

Chances are you are paying for wifi in your home so this isn’t a huge win. Still, the idea that you *could* get some work done someplace else is appealing. The trouble is, more and more of our work requires more and more high-quality internet access. Cafes? They aren’t in the business of your signal strength.

Some spots offer it for a limited time. Bummer. Some spots offer it but it’s vaguely consistent. Some cafes have moved towards not offering it at all, hoping people will be social and present instead of siloed and productive.

If you are a remote worker, you best check if you can even use that Internet. If it’s a log-on and go situation, you may be violating contracts that require higher security than a listed-at-the-cashier password. You can invest in a VPN, sure, but you could also just work someplace smarter and more secure.

Head, instead, to a coworking spot. Delivering exceptional, fast, consistent Wifi is part of their job. It’s also built into the cost of your (shared with a ton of other awesome people) space use so you don’t have to feel guilty and order a fifth coffee. And you can be sure they’ve done the research to understand security concerns.

Maybe You Enjoy a Good Power Play.

Plugs are life for the remote worker. While some computers may be able to run for six or so hours, many cannot. So if you have that burst of productivity you might not want to pack it up to head home and recharge. In Vienna, perhaps the cafe-ist cafe town ever, many joints don’t even have plugs available. One cafe owner is charging folks who plug in too long. It makes sense, the more juice we use, the more juice they pay for. Add a room of electricity-eating devices plugged in for normal work hours (you can’t unplug, right, because then you’d lose your plug) may impact their bottom line more than just you nursing that latte.

There’s also the battle for seat supremacy. There’s the counter, which seems made for a hobbit’s laptop or for you to type in your lap. There are the giant tables you feel rude anchoring yourself at. There’s the 2-top which kinda fits your stuff but makes spills crazy likely. Perhaps the broken down soiled couch is more your speed? You can play musical seats throughout the day trying to get the one that doesn’t have the afternoon sun beating down on your or the sightline into the toilet.

So, you’re left hustling to beat that programmer who always grabs a 4-top. Or eyeing with envy the parent with the kid tossing muffin crumbs onto the floor — right next to the plug you want. And, so, anyone who needs to put in a full day and doesn’t want an hour long lunch to recharge is left hoping they get the small table next to the pole that has good plug potential. And then? You can never move again.

Any coworking space will have given tons of thought to space layout. Seats for individuals and groups. And let’s be honest, seats that your tushie will actually appreciate. Ergonomic work systems are not the purview of your local cafe.

Plugs? Coworking spots got plenty. From standing desks to phone call pods, you have a place to sit and work, without stress. And chances are, there’s a plug right next to you.

You Can Find Someone to Trust.

So, you’ve got the plug. And a seat! You’re all set. But now you have to hit the loo. When you’re at a favorite coffee shop, how do you pick the stranger who will watch your stuff? We’ve all done it…scanning the room for the friendliest, trustworthy-est person. Not a dad with kids, that hot chocolate will ruin your computer. Not the lady who looks like she ran track in high school and could outpace you in a foot race. You could ask the other fellow working folks, knowing full well they won’t really watch your stuff. They’ll keep their earbuds in and eyes on the screen.

Coworking spaces are full of people who have self-selected to work there. You will likely know many of those people’s names. You can walk to the restroom without fear. Really! Or if you’re really a nervous nelly, give it to the space manager during your pit stops. They might think you’re a bit paranoid but they’re there to help. Ever tried to hand your laptop to the barista? No? Me either.

It’s So Much Cheaper Than an Office.

How much do you spend during a coffee shop day? Do you drink a few cups of something and buy a lunch? Most spots frown on you bringing your own lunch or coffee (understandable) so it can quickly top 20+ dollars a trip. If you opt to head home for lunch, how much time do you spend doing it, and at what cost?

A flexible, drop-in coworking membership with Deskpass is more affordable, usually with a cup or two of coffee included. And, with our new rollover feature, unused visits on active accounts remain usable in subsequent months. No lost money or visits if you opt to stay at home.

Flexibility is Best.

Maybe you still love a good coffee shop settle in. With Deskpass, you get the best of both worlds. Flexibility to work where you want, when you want. When you want a coffee shop, head on in knowing unused visits roll over. And when you want one of the 145+ spaces in the Deskpass network in LA, Denver, Austin, New York or Chicago, you can quickly and easily book.

In case we forgot to mention… we’re a monthly membership that currently gives you access to 450+ coworking spaces in 19 cities including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Houston, Denver, Boston, Miami, Seattle and D.C. Deskpass is a fantastic way to explore coworking, get you out of your home office or your local cafe and around a bunch of vibrant communities of lovely folks.

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