Working Remotely: WFH, Coworking Space, or Hybrid Model?

6 min read • Apr 07, 2021 • Katherine O'Malley

Remember when work meant what you did professionally as well as where you worked? All employees for a business, of course, once primarily worked in the company’s office building. If you ran your own business, you probably rented office space—maybe only 1 room—in a commercial building.

Times have changed, and remote work is here to stay, which means you could be working from anywhere—in an office building, at a coffee shop, in your home office, or in a coworking space. (Despite social media posts, most of us won’t ever be working regularly from a chair on the beach.)

In a nutshell, working remotely means that you’re freed from the boundaries of a corporate office building. Workers with job location flexibility—knowledge workers, web designers, accountants, digital nomads, freelancers—can choose to work from a home office or from a coworking space.

So if you are lucky enough to choose where you work, what are the pros and cons of choosing a home office versus a coworking space? While there are ardent fans of both options, the reality is that the best fit will depend on your personality, your business, and maybe even the workday itself.

Working Remotely From Home

Ah, the dream come true—roll out of bed and into your home office with 30 seconds to spare before your first meeting. A “video off” meeting might even mean that you’re still sporting a case of bedhead.

Without a doubt, working remotely from home has several advantages:

  • No commute puts extra minutes (or hours) back into your day.
  • Your home office costs you next to nothing—maybe a chair upgrade—and might even qualify as a small business tax deduction.
  • Lunch only takes a trip to the refrigerator instead of standing in line at the local diner.
  • You might achieve a better work/life balance—daily walks for the dog, a homework review for the kids, and a run during daylight hours for you.
  • You have a quiet space to concentrate. No more distractions from an officemate chattering about the latest movies or crunching carrots.

But if you take off the rose-colored glasses, there can be some challenges to working remotely at home:

  • Maintaining a focus on work tasks rather than personal chores—is that unorganized closet screaming for attention again?
  • Maintaining boundaries between you and others in your house—sometimes your spouse, kids, or even your pesky pet forget you are working and demand attention
  • Professional isolation when the lack of in-person interaction with other professionals minimizes your networking opportunities and reduces the potential for collaboration

Working Remotely From a Coworking Space

If working from home isn’t for you but you want to avoid leasing commercial office space for your business, a coworking space might be the solution.

Some of the advantages of using a coworking space include:

  • Entrepreneurs can reduce their startup costs by renting coworking space rather than signing a long-term commercial lease.
  • Coworking rent is usually tax-deductible, so you might get to take a pass on navigating the IRS rules for a home office.
  • Some of the personal challenges of a home office disappear (e.g., finding ways to occupy kids who are remote learning).
  • Access to high-speed internet means no more fighting bandwidth issues at your house.
  • Professional networking opportunities abound. You might meet your next client at a coworking space or, at the very least, gain energy from being around other professionals and creatives.

But alas, there are disadvantages of remotely working in a coworking space, too:

  • Too much noise—you don’t have to listen to your neighbor’s leaf-blower for the third time this week, but the overall chatter of other tenants in the coworking space may be more than you expect.
  • Lack of privacy—while you could pay extra to have a “private” coworking space, it’s more likely that your work product will be visible to anyone glancing at your desk as they walk by.
  • You’ll need to factor in expenses related to office space, a commute, and maybe even a dog walker for your long days away from home.

Hybrid Work Model

As an entrepreneur, you have the luxury of blending working from home and a coworking space to create a hybrid work model that best fits your business and personal needs.

Are you on kid duty today? Do you need to spread out those top-secret client files to create a presentation? Then work at your home office.

Are you meeting with a client to review your work product? Then sign up for on-demand space at a nearby coworking location to have a professional spot for your presentation. You could even rent professionally-maintained video conferencing rooms—no more “can you hear me now” collaboration meetings.

Do you usually work from home but need a more professional-facing front, such as a business mailing address or a virtual receptionist? Virtual memberships at a coworking space to the rescue!

As big businesses contemplate what “return to work” looks like post-COVID-19 pandemic, they’re beginning to recognize that:

  • Many employees don’t want to give up the perks of remote work.
  • Remote work doesn’t reduce worker productivity.
  • Ongoing facility management can be a large expense.

As a result, many big businesses may opt out of some office space in favor of hybrid work models in the future. Company offices might be consolidated and replaced with space at coworking spaces to de-densify (hello, 6 feet apart!) and decentralize (goodbye long commute times!).

If you’re a small business owner who leases commercial office space, you could also downsize your office space and implement the hybrid model instead. Cut costs and boost employees’ morale? Sounds like a win-win situation.

Fortunately, choosing where you work isn’t a permanent decision. As an entrepreneur and small business owner, you have the flexibility to choose, whether you embrace the advantages of a home office or the perks of a coworking space.

Katherine O'Malley

Katherine O'Malley

Katherine O'Malley is a contributor to the Lendio blog. A technology geek at heart, she splits her time between traveling, freelance writing, database administration work, and implementing SEO on her travel blog. In her free time, she loves to research the challenges small-to-midsize tourist suppliers face and find ways that technology can help them out.