Ask DN: Coworking space vs. cafe

over 5 years ago from , Pretend designer and product person

If you freelance or work remotely, which do you prefer and why?


  • Jared White, over 5 years ago

    When people think about remote work, they often default to the WFH concept. Some guy/gal sitting around in their pajamas in their bedroom working on their laptop when they aren't feeding their cat or playing video games.

    Now I know quite a few people that WFH, however unlike that silly stereotype they have a real office room set up as a professional workspace, and it works great for them. For me, my house's floor plan coupled with the fact I have two small children makes that unpractical.

    The next well-known "upgrade" from that idea is to work at a café/coffee shop. I don't really consider that an upgrade, in fact in some ways it's a downgrade. Don't get me wrong—I love working for an hour or two at a café some days. Always a good idea to get out and about and enjoy the freedom to work different places.

    However, I really feel strongly that if you are a working professional and doing a lot or all of your work remotely, you need a real office. And if that office isn't at your house, then it needs to be somewhere else. And that's where cowork spaces come in. Some are set up with open floor plans so it's sort of like working at a café only (hopefully) quieter and more ergonomic. In my case, I rent a private office with a door that's located at a cowork space, and that works very well for me. I don't really care for open floor plans. I like my privacy while working and the ability to focus without distraction from anyone else. I also like the fact I can have other non-design/development-related gear like musical instruments or camera equipment or whatever else I want at hand that might be creative or otherwise.

    So big, big thumbs up for cowork spaces/private offices. I really encourage every freelancer I meet to give it a serious consideration.

    20 points
  • Charles DeluvioCharles Deluvio, over 5 years ago

    I've dedicated a room in the apartment for all my office needs. I wake up, and get straight to work. I'll still go to a café to meet up with some friends or clients just because it's more convenient (I'll do that at least once or twice a week, 2-3 hours max) + as a freelance designer you get to expense a portion of your rent, internet and electricity/heating bills.

    Working at a coworking space gives me anxiety: just like working at a full-time job. I'll spend at least 2-3 hours getting ready + commuting to and from said space, bring a lunch or spend money + I have to small talk :| Kidding I love people.


    And for those who can't decide, there's the coworking/café combination at Crew. lulz.

    9 points
  • Patrick LoonstraPatrick Loonstra, over 5 years ago

    Coworking space, big time. But working in a coffee spot is also important once every few days.

    A constant change with new impulses works best for me, with a save and steady spot.

    2 points
  • Vivian Guillen, over 5 years ago

    I think a coworking space is better. They have faster internet and less noise than a cafe.

    2 points
  • Zak ErvingZak Erving, over 5 years ago

    I've got a standing desk and treadmill desk side-by-side in my garage. Every day, I pop open the big door, sip some coffee, and log some miles! Beats either, IMO. If I need social interaction I'll go to a bar at happy hour to finish up that one last task :P

    1 point
    • Kieran Rheaume, over 5 years ago

      haha this is my favourite answer so far. How many glances from neighbours you must get..

      1 point
      • Zak ErvingZak Erving, over 5 years ago

        Oh believe me. My neighbor's mailbox is right in front of the garage, and when he picks up his mail, he makes sure to tease me about working and walking and rocking out to Wolfmother :P

        0 points
  • Gokhun GuneyhanGokhun Guneyhan, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    The best is the combination of both, the cafe in a cw space :) I used to be at WeWork and thought staying at the cafe was more productive than the office most of the time.

    Currently working from home if I have to be quicker (big screen & faster internet) and going to a cafe when I want to experiment new ideas or if i'm working on more boring parts of the project so I won't find myself doing something else.

    1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    My own house beats anything. I go to the coffee shop or a restaurant to have a break, then I go back to home where I can listen music without headphones and be dressed as I want, have the TV running, etc.

    0 points
  • Jonas Bucinskas, over 5 years ago

    If you only compare these two then definitely coworking spaces are better. They offer somewhat structured work environment and usually the cafe is a part of that space too.

    However i think that coworking spaces are only good for building your network. They are usually designed for it with events, places to chat and over-excited coworking space manager(i used to be one, sorry) All of these things don't really help to concentrate and do the actual work.

    I just moved to the new city few days ago and i hardly know anyone here. I'm gonna go and find some co-working space and use it to expand my network. However i don't think i'm gonna stay there long, because that same network will impact the quality of my work.

    0 points
  • Tim Swan, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    I'm a fan of co-working (read: my own) space. I quite like the separation between work and home — leaving the house for work and leaving the office to “end” a day. Having a desk that I can mess up, clean up and organise to my liking.

    It's worth checking out different spaces and getting one that works for you. Much like house hunting — the more spaces you look at, the better informed you'll be.

    It's also worth considering smaller things that might effect you – natural light, temperature, ambient noise, and even things to do around the space itself. When it comes to work, can you spread out, stick notes up etc. A few things you might not realise you do until you can no longer do them… say, in a café ;).

    If only there were a place that provided both…

    0 points
  • Greg BowenGreg Bowen, over 5 years ago

    I love cafes for deep coding sessions - no distractions, noise cancelling headphones, constantly in new surroundings. Meetings /screenshares at home or cowork.

    0 points
  • Bruno MarinhoBruno Marinho, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    The main benefit of remote, is no commuting time at all so for me what works better is to have a nice office space at home. So I can always feel inspired to sit and work.

    0 points
  • Mitch Malone, over 5 years ago

    I prefer to work in a coworking space (currently at a wework). I can't concentrate at home; too many distractions. Coffee shop won't work because I'm talking to my team a lot during the day so I need quiet. Wework has coffee, little conference rooms, fast internet, and cool places for lunch/walks. I find that I'm just more productive in an office.

    0 points
  • Wil NicholsWil Nichols, over 5 years ago

    Cafés. Coworking spaces are overly insular, and I'm less fond of that culture. Cafés make for good conversation when needing a break, headphones block distractions otherwise, and if the wifi works, it's perfect.

    Since moving a few months back, I've been using a home office, but that depends on if flatmates have guests. Now, mostly split between cafés and home. Every so often use a coworking trial to rent a meeting room.

    0 points