Will a co-working space be too busy for me?

Co-working spaces are renowned as a melting pot of creativity and connectivity. But with all the buzz and hubbub, is it possible to get your work done?

If you’re starting up a small business or thinking of striking out on your own as a sole trader, chances are you’ve considered taking a desk at a co-working space.

By offering space to multiple entrepreneurs and small businesses, co-working spaces are able to offer the kinds of amenities usually only seen in larger corporate outfits, said National Marketing Manager for Hub Australia Amy Green.

“We now have over 1200 members,” she said. “The spaces offer all sorts of useful amenities including meditation areas, end-of-trip facilities, gyms, parents’ rooms and cafés.”

Of course, not every place is able to provide all of these amenities, but most offer opportunities to connect with likeminded people.

Networking and social events

Co-working spaces tend to organise a schedule of events (usually out of hours), allowing people to come together; to meet, greet, talk shop and wind down depending on your preference.

Digital Marketing Consultant Kate Collinson rents a desk at The Commons Collingwood, and says it’s not unusual for non-tenants to organise their own social events as well.

“Everyone tends to be very sociable and easy to get along with, but that doesn’t mean you can expect to be immediately invited to the independently organised gatherings,” she said.

“If you’re naturally good at networking, then a coworking space is the ideal place to meet new people with a wide variety of skills. But if you’re not naturally gregarious, you’ll still need to put that extra effort in.”

READ: The rise of the co-working space

What about when it’s time to buckle down?

With all the amazing amenities, meeting rooms and potential new connections to make, some might begin to wonder how to get any work done at all – but users say the hive of activity isn’t a distraction from their tasks at hand.

“Everyone I’ve met at The Commons has been very professional and polite. We all come here to work so there’s great respect for one another’s time,” said Collinson.

Joel Robertson, a Web Developer working as a sole trader out of Golden Handshake in Melbourne CBD, agrees, saying his experience has been of one of the most productive workplaces he’s seen.

“Everyone here is very aware of the fact that they’re paying for the privilege to be here, so socialising is generally kept to a minimum while people are working,” he said.

As such, it seems that the same rules of mutual respect apply at co-working spaces – perhaps to an even greater degree than in more traditional business environments – and that’s something the owners and managers are keen to foster.

“Our members have access to both quiet zones and louder areas, as well as phone booths to take calls,” said Green.

“When designing the space we allocated different floors for businesses that may want to network a bit more and others that prefer ‘quieter’ areas. Our community leaders have good relationships with our members and can help address any issues that may arise in shared spaces.”

Co-working spaces provide great benefit with little downside to entrepreneurs and small businesses looking for an alternative place to get work done, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the culture and facilities differ from place to place.

“Not every co-working space is going to be perfect for everyone, so it’s worth doing some thorough research,” Collinson suggested.