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Coworkers

Coworkers vs. Coffee Shop Conquerors

Sektor 5 in Vienna (above) & a coffee shop in San Francisco.

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Coworking undoubtedly has is perks and advantages, but so does the coffee shop next door, just in a different way. Yet, what is it that makes different people choose different workplaces? If you really want to know what the reasons are, you have to ask the experts: the people who actually use these spaces as their workplace. A student went out to coworking spaces and coffee shops in Vienna and asked their users about their working habits.

This article is written by Hana Hariri, who summarized some of the results of her master thesis. For this, she interviewed  people who work in coworking spaces and coffeeshops in Vienna. Here are the results:

Who are they?

The people interviewed in coffee shops varied widely in their professions. It is not only the entrepreneurs and freelancers who frequent the local coffee shops in order to get their stuff done…actually it’s mostly not entrepreneurs at all. College students also love working in coffee shops, as do pilots, journalists, professors, high school students, mathematicians or - to feed the “Lo-Fi-bohème-stereotype” - graphic designers.

In contrast, most of the coworkers interviewed in this survey are self-employed, or working for start-ups in a variety of fields. Among the interviewees are: software developers, musicians, consultants, people in film, marketing, and event-management.

Why do they work, where they work? And what do they like about it?

Coworkers stated that they picked the coworking space mainly because they didn’t want to work from home anymore, since they faced too many distractions and social seclusion. They were also missing the professional exchange with like-minded people. “If you work at home, you’re there by yourself all the time. You stay in your pajamas and sometimes don’t even get out of bed." In addition, they value quick support if needed: "you just turn around and ask the guy next to you for help. It takes 5 minutes to have your issue sorted out, instead of spending 3 hours doing research on the internet…” said coworker Simon.

Coworkers generally appreciate having interactions with others throughout the day. The fact that coworking spaces are far more affordable than a traditional office space was also mentioned several times during the course of the interviews. 

Café conquerors pick their particular workplace for slightly different reasons. Many do it as a way to get out of their normal working environment, and as a way to be in a lively atmosphere without necessarily interacting with people. A journalist explained it like this:

“Nobody talks to me, but there is still life all around me. These are the perfect conditions for my work and this is exactly what you will find in coffee houses. I don’t mind the buzz and the conversations around me. I just don’t want to be talked to. At home it’s either too quiet, because there’s no one there, or somebody is there and wants to talk to me”.

A big plus, for all the coffee shop workers, was the constant availability of coffee and snacks. Coffee shops are generally used to change up the daily routine, but they are rarely used as the primary work place. 

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