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coffee shop vs. coworking space

In today’s entrepreneurial and out-of-the-box-thinking culture, coffeeshops have become the sought after venue to meet, work, chat and think.  It’s a go-to for those in desperate need of a reprieve from the walls of their home office as well as a bastion of inspiration for the creative.  There’s something about the balanced din of baristas grinding coffee, background music, and swirling voices that can be a catalyst for productivity–or is it?  Is the java joint the one-stop shop for those looking to get their work buzz on or does it run a sad second to coworking spaces where community is proactive and not left up to chance?  But does coworking offer all that it boasts or can one get the same vibe at the local cafe without the high cost of entry?

I met up with Hubbers Bob Gregor of IOVITA, Derrick Duplessy of The Duplessy Foundation, and Julianne Zimmerman of Reinventure Capital to get their take on where they prefer to get their work groove on.

1. Why do you feel a coworking space is better than a coffeeshop?  What are you able to accomplish here that you wouldn’t at a coffeehouse?

“Everything you could do in a coffeeshop, you can do in a co-working space. The reverse is sadly not true….can you print?  No.  Can you copy? No. Can you go to the bathroom? Maybe.  Can you openly collaborate, meet privately, and find a community of skilled professionals to help you?  %#@(&* to the no.”  – Derrick

“There’s higher energy with faces that you grow in connection with and not random strangers gratuitously guzzling down cafe mochas. Such connections drive higher value relationships that flow into business opportunities” – Bob

“I’ve been a member of the CIC community since 2004, so CIC coworking environments are really my office home. [As opposed to my home office, which is my other preferred work environment!]  I’ve been an Impact Hub Boston member for the past few years, and I really appreciate the studious atmosphere, coupled with the friendly community.  I find it very easy to be super-productive there, whether that means head-down writing, calls, meetings, or spontaneous conversation breaks.  Conversely, a coffee shop offers an anonymous surface — ideally, Hemingway’s clean, well-lighted place — in which to pound out some work for a short period of time, and I have definitely taken advantage of the focal energy coffee shops can provide, particularly when I’m traveling between meetings.  But for me they’re not ideal for sustained work — and besides, as a one-time waitress I feel a residual obligation to turn the table over after I’ve occupied it for a reasonable period of time.   – Julianne

2. Here at Impact Hub, like most coworking spaces, community is a big focus.  How has the coworking community impacted your quality of work and personal life?

“The Hub hosts are amazing.  And I routinely meet very cool community members who are doing really exciting things. It’s invigorating to be around such a vibrant group of people pursuing so many different endeavors. It keeps me optimistic in a way that working in a company office never did.” – Julianne

“I feel a sense of home, which is so vitally important to me as I transition my life to Boston.  Having the Impact Hub community helps me feel grounded at a crucial phase of my professional career, which was moving to Boston to be involved in a high-impact startup.” – Bob

“It allows me to meet some of the smartest business folk in the world and converse with them.  An informal discussion taking place 20 feet to your right could change your business.”  –  Derrick

3. Are you an introvert or extrovert? How does co-working meet your needs for individual productivity, community, and professional/entrepreneurial progression? 

“I’m an extrovert – Impact Hub helps me not drive my introverted developer coworkers absolutely crazy.” – Bob

“I’m an introvert performing daily as an extrovert. If I don’t see people outside my house in a business setting, might as well put a cape on and try to be Superman.” – Derrick

For my purposes, the best description I’ve encountered of introverts and extroverts is that introverts expend energy in interacting with other people, where extroverts gain energy in interacting with other people.  Either can be socially adept, and both can also be socially awkward.  By that classification, I am definitely an introvert, and although I enjoy working with other people, my idea of downtime generally involves solitude.

When I need to be undisturbed, my home office is ideal.  I love to work there. But a big part of my work involves engaging other people, and for that, my home office is not at all suited.  

The coworking spaces I use are really wonderful for providing people plenty of opportunity to interact, without necessarily forcing any interaction. Everyone is pretty respectful of others’ attention, so the noise level is not intrusive, and yet serendipitous conversations frequently occur (like the one Demetria and I had in the Hub kitchen where we first met!) And of course there are meeting rooms and phone booths for private conversations.”  – Julianne

4. Do you feel coworking spaces are here to stay or just another fad that won’t outlive coffeeshop mania?

“Coworking spaces are here to stay. It’s simple economics. At a coffee shop, someone believes in their business at a worth of about $4.25; a coworking space is about $12 a day, which means you have to be a lot more serious about your business to invest in yourself.” – Bob

I don’t know what the next global economic shift will bring, so its tough to say how that will affect our working patterns. But for the time being, coworking spaces serve an important and valuable role. I don’t think that is going to change in the very near future.” – Julianne

“It’s not a fad. It’s the future of work. Smaller companies, freelancers, and experts sharing space is the evolution of work. As we [get] further away with technology, we still need proximity to confirm our humanity.  Without the knowledge that living breathing people are around the corner, we are just toiling away [without insight]. The coffeeshop has proximity but it doesn’t have community. It wasn’t built for that and they gotta turn those tables at some point.” – Derrick

5. What’s one thing you wish your coworking space had that was readily available at a coffeeshop?

“Seasonal flavored coffee like Pumpkin Spice for Autumn and Chocolate Peppermint for Christmas, Dark Chocolate for Valentine’s Day……” – Bob

“Green Juice – but that’s not available at every coffeeshop, either!” – Julianne

“Nothing.” – Derrick

There you have it, coworking wins by a landslide!  What more can be said about a productive working atmosphere coupled with hobnobing and building community, not to mention the awesome snacks!  Save the coffee house rendezvous for Saturday conversations and that first date but efficiency belongs to and thrives among those in the coworking space.  But let’s keep the dialogue going…..what makes Impact Hub THE haven of effective working and community building for you?