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Co-Working: An alternative for startups, small businesses and freelancers

By KC Calpo |

We all know what a typical office setup is like: stuffy, constrained, mind-numbing, boring. However, those who have chosen to take the self-employment route (a.k.a. freelancers) and small groups still in the starting stages of their professional endeavor may not have the luxury of having an established business address with the necessary equipment and environment. Here’s a new alternative that answers this particular need (and is now taking off in the Philippines): co-working.

[related|post]What exactly is co-working? Basically, it’s a setup that enables people from various industries to rent a work space for different durations (daily, monthly, yearly) --- and share that space with folks who are in the same boat. It’s quite different from the leased spaces and serviced offices popping up around the metro: what sets co-working apart from other options is that it fosters community building and espouses creativity without the stringent limits of a straight-up corporate environment. Co-working is increasingly being done by writers, artists, creatives, telecommuters and startups. But while the idea’s fresh and enticing, it may not deliver the same results for everyone.

Pros:

●    Co-working spaces offer both the venue and opportunities for individuals to bounce ideas off one another, get immediate feedback on a wide range of projects, build networks for future projects, and maybe even get in touch with prospective clients and investors.
●    It enables freelancers to get away from the confines of home (or cramped office spaces), and stave off laziness or cabin fever. For freelancers who work in coffee shops, co-working will allow them to escape the din of noisy customers and the expenses for parking and (often unsecured) Wi-Fi access, as well as those obligatory (and fattening) frappes. Oh, and no more scrambling for a vacant power outlet!
●    It gives small firms the work space and equipment they need without the high costs of maintaining an office in a fixed location. For an overview of rental spaces in the metro, click here.

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Cons:

●    For freelancers who are still starting out and/or have minimal earnings, the daily/monthly/annual fees for co-working spaces may put a dent on their delicate finances.
●    Because of co-working’s social aspect, some individuals may get distracted easily, and be unable to finish everything they need to do. Those who can’t maintain their focus may have a difficult time with co-working.
●    On the flipside, people who are fiercely independent may not be able to hack co-working. While there is mutual respect among community members when it comes to privacy and working space, there will always be individuals who prefer to be in quiet, formal surroundings during normal office hours --- and have very specific ideas about what type of working environment works for them.


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