Kyle Schmitz is the director of product design at Accountingfly. He sometimes works remotely out of a coworking office space in downtown Pensacola, Fla. We asked Kyle about his thoughts on the pros and cons of coworking spaces for accounting, and he was happy to give us the real scoop.
Coworking spaces suck: Everyone does their own thing, so there’s not much “community”
It’s not easy to become part of the community at my coworking space. I was lucky that I had a couple of friends already there, so I was able to feel comfortable right away. But I still haven’t said a word to 90% of the people I share a space with. I feel like cowork spaces push the idea of community and even “family,” but it’s not something that comes naturally just from sharing a space. It’s hard to find the time to meet the other people.
Sometimes the idea of “community” or “family” goes a little far at my coworking office. And some members don’t respect your space. In a large open office, some members forget that it’s not OK to just walk up to you and start talking. There are no enforced rules about how to interact with other members, so anarchy reigns.
Coworking spaces are awesome: You’re surrounded by sources of advice and help
I joined a local coworking space because I wanted to be around others of my same discipline. It’s definitely been a good move because I’ve already gotten good advice from a few of my peers. There are experienced people there who I can turn to if I have a question or need help with a project. Using coworking spaces for accounting can provide free help for software you don’t know that well or even give you someone to double-check your math.
Coworking spaces suck: They can be just as distracting as working from home
It’s easy to get distracted in the open environment of coworking spaces. There are distractions at home, but there are probably just as many at a cowork space. Most coworking spaces have perks to draw you in, but if your attention is easily diverted, it’s just as bad as being at home (read: ping-pong tables). That’s why it’s a spot I don’t go to every day, but rather a supplement to working in the main office or from home.
Coworking spaces are awesome: You can invite your friends!
I chose my local cowork space because I already had a couple of friends there. Those friends have introduced me to others in the facility which has helped expand my network a bit. It’s fun being able to work next to and hang out with people I know from my real life rather than being home alone. And it definitely beats trying to force a “friendship” with an office coworker who I’d probably never talk to in any other social situation.
There’s one drawback though: If my friends don’t come into the coworking space on a given day, I’ll usually just work from home.
Coworking spaces suck: Artificial socialization is awkward
My coworking office organizes social activities, like happy hours and meetups, which seem a little forced. I wish there was a more organic way to meet the others at my space. People go there to do their work, not to socialize, so it can be hard to find a time and place to introduce yourself.
And, as a father, the cowork events don’t always line up with my parenting schedule. There needs to be a more natural process to help us all get to know each other without the forced interaction of happy hours and lunches (no one wants to talk with food in their mouths).
Coworking spaces are awesome: Despite the drawbacks, being with people usually beats being alone
Overall, I’m glad I joined my local coworking space. The positives outweigh the negatives, and I generally prefer it to the solitude of working from home, especially when my friends are there. I found this article on Lifehacker that says working around other people makes you more productive than being alone, and I believe that’s true, for the most part at least. I think coworking spaces for accounting are generally a good thing.
Plus, there’s a ping-pong table.
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