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As more and more people work remotely, coworking spaces are popping up to accommodate them.
With work rooms, private offices, fast WiFi, and unlimited coffee, these co-working spaces offer the focused, work-friendly vibe of an office, without the feeling that you’re stuck in adult jail.
Plus, you might get to meet other location independents like yourself, which could be a great way to build your network or make friends in your neighborhood.
So, what should you look for when choosing a coworking space to call your work home? Here are seven features to consider.
1. Noise level
Do you need complete silence to think, or are you at your best with a low hum of background music and people chatting? Noise level can be a big factor in choosing a coworking space where you can be productive.
One coworking space I joined, for instance, let me down in this department. It was in a converted factory, with rustic wood floors and high ceilings. But since it consisted of one big, echoey room, I could hear every word of anyone’s conversation, making it tough for me to focus on writing.
Even though the space had an amazing design, it didn’t always help me get stuff done. I had a better time at the coworking space I joined in Madrid, which had a variety of rooms with different noise levels.
It had a designated quiet room, for instance, with a library-like atmosphere where people worked individually. It also had a central atrium where people could collaborate in groups, chat, or eat without disturbing others.
This multi-room setup was a lot better, since it let me choose the atmosphere where I could work most effectively. When selecting a space, take note of the sounds going on around you, so you can decide if it will be amenable to your work style.
Unless you’ve found a company that will reimburse your coworking space membership, price is probably a top consideration.
Most coworking spaces offer the lowest price point for a “hot desk” membership, meaning you can choose any open desk or space at the table, as well as reserve meeting or phone booth rooms for private use.
Some offer a lower price for a partial-day membership and charge more for unlimited 24/7 access.
The next step up would be a “dedicated desk” membership, where you would pay more for your own workspace.
Finally, the highest price usually goes for a private office, where you would have totally privacy to get your work done.
For my part, I’ve always gone with the hot desk membership. I’ve never had a problem finding space, and I actually prefer to mix up where I sit on a day-to-day basis.
But if you would like a designated work station, it might be worth the splurge for a membership at the next level.
If there are several coworking spaces in your town or city, compare the membership options and costs so you can find one that works for your budget.
3. Design and style
Do you want a space with tall, luminous windows that let in lots of natural light? Walls covered in the works of local artists and plants hanging from the ceiling?
Whatever your preference, look for a coworking space with a design that inspires you.
After all, a great perk of working remotely is the freedom to choose environments that stimulate your thinking and make you feel happy, creative, and productive.
So whether it’s rustic or modern, funky or sleek, look for a coworking space that matches your personal style.
4. Pet policy
If your French bulldog is your best friend, you might look for a coworking space that allows your dog to sit beside while you work. But if pup fur will make you sneeze all day long, look for a pet-free location.
Whether you get allergies, become hopelessly distracted by pups, or just don’t like animals in your workspace (no judgment…well, maybe a little), find out what the coworking space’s pet policy is before signing up.
Otherwise, you might make some canine friends in your coworking space, but you’ll have completely missed your deadlines.
Ease of location is another big factor when choosing a coworking space. Chances are, you don’t miss commuting back and forth from work now that you work from home.
So don’t reintroduce a long commute back into your life by choosing an inconveniently located coworking space.
You might also consider whether the space has multiple locations around your city, or even around the world.
WeWork, for instance, has 10 buildings in Boston, 18 in LA, and 56 in NYC. You can pay a reduced price to work at other locations.
It also has locations all over the globe, allowing digital nomads to find a work-friendly space wherever they happen to be living that month. Some other spaces let you hop around their different buildings at no additional cost.
6. Extra perks
You can expect pretty much any coworking space to offer the basics: fast WiFi, access to printing, and coffee. But some offer additional perks, like homemade fruit water or pizza Thursdays.
My last space, for instance, had kegs with three ever-changing varieties of locally made beer, donated by one of its members who owned a nearby brewery.
Plus, it held a happy hour on Friday afternoons with wine, cheese, and the chance to chat with your “co-coworkers.”
The space I joined in Madrid also had “sexy salad” Wednesdays, but I wasn’t there long enough to find out what exactly that meant.
Regardless, if you’re debating between a few spaces, looking for extra perks could help you make your final decision.
7. Professional events and social mixers
Along with helping you be productive, coworking spaces also offer a great opportunity to meet like-minded people in your community.
Often, the space will hold social events and professional workshops so members can meet and learn from one another. They might also host classes on anything from web design to mindfulness.
If you’d like the chance to meet other members, ask about the space’s social calendar before signing up.
Finding the right coworking space for you
Along with important considerations like noise level and cost, the best coworking space might come down to its overall atmosphere and vibe. Before signing up, most spaces will invite you in for a tour.
Usually, you can bring your laptop, get on the WiFi, and spend the day working there before you decide. Take advantage of this offer if you can, since it’s the best way to get a sense of the space.
And if you’re planning to move from city to city (or country to country), check out this list of global coworking spaces with locations around the world.