Business Blog Business & Networking The Disadvantages of Coworking Spaces: How To Solve Them

The Disadvantages of Coworking Spaces: How To Solve Them

By Tim Ward


More employees are returning to the office after years of remote work. While this allows them to connect meaningfully with their colleagues after the isolation of Covid, traditional offices remove most of the flexibility and freedom today’s workers are used to.

For this reason, coworking spaces are becoming increasingly popular among small businesses. Studies of these spaces indicate that freelancers comprise 37 percent of users, followed by entrepreneurs and SMEs comprising 24 and 21 percent respectively. The number of these spaces worldwide is predicted to near 42 000 by 2024, compared to 18,700 in 2018. 

Their many benefits include 24/7 access, a selection of rooms and furniture, and amenities to support employees’ wellbeing. This means they offer flexibility, comfort and communities where employees can make valuable connections. 

However, it’s essential to understand the potential disadvantages of coworking spaces to choose one that suits your employees’ needs and protects your business.

Considering a hybrid work solution? Find out the benefits of a hub-and-spoke model.

Privacy Concerns in Shared Work Environments

Many coworking spaces are not designed to protect employees’ privacy, which is a serious concern when working with clients. A recent study suggests that 48 percent of coworkers worry about the security of their confidential work. This is because using computers and sharing a printer in public spaces can expose sensitive information to other colleagues and competitors.

With no soundproofing in some shared spaces, it is also easy for others to overhear confidential discussions with clients and use this knowledge for personal gain. Such confidentiality breaches can lead to lawsuits and fines for your business. The above study revealed that many employees are understandably self-conscious in shared spaces, which reduces productivity and causes stress.  

Most of Servcorp's coworking spaces include soundproof phone booths so employees can make private calls without being overheard. They also include private offices and boardrooms, allowing employees to handle sensitive information safely. These offices contain opaque and sound-insulated frosted glass entrances to ensure privacy.

Distraction Levels and Noise Issues

Coworking spaces can facilitate relationship-building and effective collaboration, making them ideal for team meetings and business conversations. However, their casual atmosphere tempts employees to chat while working, hindering their productivity and performance.

The noises of ringing telephones, printers, typing, and conversations also distract coworkers. This interferes with brainstorming sessions since sudden interruptions overwrite information stored in short-term memory. 

Research confirms that distractions increase errors in projects demanding attention to detail. Interruptions of just 3 and 5 seconds double and triple error employees' rates respectively, causing mistakes that at best require more time to fix and may have serious consequences if unnoticed. On top of this, workers can take up to 23 minutes after a single interruption to completely refocus on the original task, accumulating to hours of distracted work in noisy office spaces.

But this can easily be solved by selecting a better coworking space. For example, Servcorp's coworking spaces have a selection of breakout areas to enhance concentration and a workspace with minimal distracting noises, as workers are considerate of other people's space.

Assessing Flexibility and Comfort in Shared Workspaces

Insufficient or unsuitable equipment makes employees’ jobs difficult. Up to 31 percent of employees have reported needing more facilities to perform their duties. This is largely due to appearance and cost often being the main priorities in office space design.

Workers with musculoskeletal or sensory conditions may require additional monitors, lights, ergonomic chairs, and mice to work safely and efficiently. These adjustments require access to several outlets for electronics, which coworkers lack in some spaces. 

While you may be tempted to choose furniture to complement your space's look, ensure it caters to your employers' needs to keep them healthy and productive. Investing in height-adjustable desks and ergonomic chairs will allow your employees to tailor their workspace to their physical requirements.

Servcorp’s hot desks and dedicated desks offer a selection of furniture and equipment to suit your employees’ needs and working styles. In each space, workers can choose between leather sofas for comfort, booth seats for team meetings, and ergonomic chairs. The variety of offices and meeting rooms in each space allows your full team to access the facilities they need.

Security Risks

While open networks allow continuous and widespread internet access, they also expose businesses to data breaches and cyberattacks. Shared WIFI passwords and open network connections expose your data to hackers, allowing them to install malware on office computers and access sensitive information such as bank and medical records. This can have disastrous legal and financial implications for your business. 

Cybersecurity breaches in small businesses sharing coworking spaces, including entrepreneurs and startup companies, skyrocketed during the pandemic. Research shows a 148 percent increase in ransomware attacks in 2020 and data breaches affecting 422 million people in 2022.

With so many people working in the same building and no secure storage areas for personal items, coworkers’ belongings are vulnerable to theft. Many are wary of leaving items on their desks or in public view, which prevents them from comfortably using all the facilities available.

You can be assured of your belongings and data’s security in Servcorp’s serviced offices, which include private Wifi for each employee with their own passwords and AES encryption. All packages also include lockable storage for personal items.

Inconsistencies in Amenities and Services

Technological problems and outdated equipment interrupt your employees' workflow, causing time management problems and increasing stress. Rural areas often have slow and unstable Wi-Fi, preventing employees from editing cloud-based documents or using web-based software. While employees can hotspot their mobiles to stay connected, smartphones bring even more distractions and their own cybersecurity risks into the office.

Additionally, older computers include outdated software and operating systems. These lack newer productivity-boosting features and may have bugs preventing employees from retrieving files. They also contain vulnerabilities to malware infection and cyberattacks.

(Find out if coworking spaces are tax deductible)

Shared printers in some spaces also lead to long printing queues and employees accidentally taking each other's documents, which causes unnecessary delays and stress. Paper jams and toner or cartridge problems take much longer to fix and interfere with everyone's work in this situation.

Servcorp’s coworking spaces are equipped with the latest technology and include personal printers and scanners. Businesses enjoy top-speed WiFi and a dedicated IT support team that provides personalized support packages and on-call assistance during business hours. Managers can set up any internet configuration, including VPNs, VLAN or dedicated bandwidth, and enjoy the same benefits. Employees can also print, scan or photocopy documents at their desks.  

Lack of Personal Space

The designs of coworking spaces can significantly affect their suitability for different types of workers. Extroverts thriving on social interaction feel most comfortable socializing with other employees in crowded environments. The casual look and social amenities of shared spaces will energize these people and assist in building community and culture. 

But this space is unlikely to suit all of the diverse personalities and work styles your team brings to the office. According to a recent study, many employees want a workplace that energizes them, which means different things to different people, and limits their socialization with colleagues

Fortunately, Servcorp’s offices have something for everyone. More social coworkers will love the larger common rooms with sofas near self-served tea and coffee, and those preferring to work alone can do so in separate meeting and board rooms. Employees also have 24/7 access to the space, allowing them to organize their work schedules around their preferences.

Some reported preferring to focus on their work but feeling pressured to socialize. These workers would likely work more effectively in smaller offices, as would employees who prefer to work in silence or more structured environments.

Analysing The Costs of Coworking

Coworking spaces can be costly for several reasons. It is important to consider your employees’ needs and preferences when selecting a membership to avoid paying for unnecessary services.

Pricing typically includes membership options, which include access to different amenities at a monthly price. Renting multiple rooms with comfortable furniture and more equipment will likely cost more than one meeting room. Offices in larger cities also tend to cost more due to higher real estate costs in these areas.

Many spaces require monthly or long-term contracts, which may not align with the changing needs of freelance and startup companies. Being locked into a year-long contract becomes a wasted investment if the business suddenly stops needing the space. Monthly memberships, like subscriptions, can be more flexible in being canceled from the next payment date.

Servcorp’s packages and financial incentives give your business great value for money. For a monthly fee, you can choose between different packages to suit your employees' requirements and work styles. Both the Hot Desk and Dedicated Desk packages include monthly vouchers for employees covering printing costs and one day of hot-desking.

You can also purchase a Servcorp membership with a pay-as-you-go plan to avoid recurring costs when you stop using the space. This grants employees access to the coworking lounges and meeting rooms, as well as weekly community events. 

All packages include access to Servcorp’s online community, where you can register your company to do business with over 50,000 clients. This community allows you to profit from your investment by expanding your client base and potentially attracting investors!

Overall, choosing a work environment that supports your business’s growth is vital.  When suited to employees’ work styles and preferences, coworking spaces immensely benefit their wellbeing and performance.

However, they can pose serious privacy and security risks. Distractions and inadequate amenities in poorly designed spaces are serious disadvantages for your employees and hurt your business’s performance over time. 

To protect your company and team’s wellbeing, invest in spaces such as Servcorp’s, which mitigate the above risks, allow your team to work effectively, and can be well tailored to their working needs.

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