Why one startup prefers coworking to remote collaboration


Last week we pointed out a recent Wall Street Journal article reporting a trend towards larger startups sticking with coworking as they grow. Various experts warned there could be downsides, from the community aspect of the space inhibiting the formation of a company culture to other coworking companies poaching your talent or ideas. But not everyone it seems sees eye to eye with the WSJ’s experts.

Since its launch last September women’s career advice site The Daily Muse has been run  by a largely remote team. However, the company recently opted for a change, moving together into San Francisco coworking space StartupHQ. Rather than growing out of coworking, this is one startups that’s growing into one, and in a recent post for Forbes, the Daily Muse teams explain why, for them, coworking beats a remote arrangement. Besides a swankier kitchen and more opportunities for bonding, they explain that their new home base provides significant advantages:

You Cut Down on Email (a Lot). I love email as much as the next woman does, but sometimes it can get a little out of hand. I never realized how much email traffic was being generated just keeping people in the loop, until I could look up and share a thought or idea with the team instead of busting out my laptop. It’s also been easier to keep the whole team involved in projects (or at least aware of them) when we’re all in the same space.

Instant Sales Leads. We work in a space with dozens of other companies. By meeting them and learning about their products, we’ve started to do business with many of them. In some cases, we’ve become their clients (we now use Xero, a cloud accounting solution), and in others, our deskmates have wanted to work with us. If you offer services to other companies, co-working can be a great source of sales leads, and you really can’t beat in-person customer service over coffee.

New Ideas. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to brainstorm. But that’s a lot harder to do alone. Being around my team means that we can riff of each other’s ideas and generate new, and often better, ones. Co-working has allowed us to have more serendipitous moments, and to better integrate sales, marketing, and editorial initiatives.

The debate around whether remote set-ups and coworking spaces work well for startups at different stages in their growth will likely rage on (here’s more from the pro remote camp, and here’s more from the anti if you want to catch up), as it seems that different companies have strong and opposed positions on the matter.

Do you think the ideal set up for a startup is simply down to the preferences and locations of the team, or can you say categorically that remote, co-located or coworking is best? 

Image courtesy of Flickr user {Guerrilla Future | Jason Tester}



I can add several things, which is bad for such kind of “co-working space”.

1) Failure in choosing right partners.
You tend to work with people that are near and become lazy to do the search of outside alternatives. You never make great content with that approach. Great technology – possible. Content – no. Great content is parsing thru about hundreds and hundreds of alternatives.

2) “Disturbance” factor.
When you have somebody to chat with – it is always easier to chat, than to sit and make your stuff done.
Especially, when you have so called “kitchens”.
I don’t know, why people call “sharing ideas”, what is just “chatting for fun”?
You never get those “ideas” memorized and thoroughly assessed.

3) Communication failure.
Yes, you don’t need an email to say them, what you think.
It relaxes you for some unknown reason. It makes you damn lazy to make your preparations for the meeting.
Why do you need to prepare? You can gather your colleagues in a second in your open space or a “kitchen” and try to explain them your ideas verbally.
Yet, you don’t care, that they have their own stuff to do and they don’t quite get what you do you want from them now.

And one more thing: I have all three “advantages” – cut email, sales leads, brainstorming – without having my team set up in one co-working space.

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