Choosing Your Solopreneur Workspace: Cafe vs. Coworking Space vs. Home Office

Since 2013, I have been a digital nomad, traveling full-time while building a location-independent digital marketing business and blog.

Because I’ve built my business from the road and haven’t slowed down since, I’ve worked from countless homes, cafes and coworking spaces. They have all had an impact on my productivity and motivation in different ways.

I want to share those experiences with you, fellow solopreneur -- so you can decide what might work best for you. Here’s what I like (and dislike) about each of these options.

Workspace Option 1: Home Office

Working from home is the default option for most solopreneurs. Some of us have designated home offices while others hang out on the couch, work from the bed or even camp out at the dining table. It’s the most flexible and private workspace you could ever ask for.

The Pros

  • It’s cheaper to work from home as you have no office rent to pay.
  • There’s no commute involved, saving you time, energy and expensive fuel money.
  • You are free to set up and customize your workspace however you like.
  • It’s completely private. (And as a bonus, you can turn up to work in PJs.)

The Cons

  • It can get lonely when you’re not working or interacting with people on a day-to-day basis.
  • It’s easy to get distracted by household chores. Kids, pets and TV also challenge your concentration.
  • The lines between home and work become blurry. Your home ceases to be a place for relaxation and you find yourself in work mode, 24/7.
  • There is a tendency to overwork and burn yourself out.

My Experience
While living in Vietnam, my primary workspace was at home as we had solid internet and a great desk. However, I did get antsy after a few days of working from home and realized I liked the energy of having other people around me. To combat isolation and burn out, I would mix it up by going to coffee shops a few days a week and this was a welcome break from home.

Workspace Option 2: Coffee Shop

Working from cafes is a great way to get out of the house and stimulate yourself in a different environment. With the growth of WiFi-enabled cafes around the world - the ‘coffice’ is a trend that solopreneurs have embraced with open arms.

The Pros

  • The coffee, naturally.
  • Free WiFi. Especially great if you’re on the go and need to clock in a few hours of work or check a few things.
  • The background noise in coffee shops is known to enhance productivity and concentration. I’m not making that up.
  • You can rotate and go to a new coffee shop each time. Changing up your work environment can often boost creativity.

The Cons

  • WiFi can be unreliable in cafes. Plus, if you’re sharing it with a lot of other people, it can be slow, too.
  • Sharing WiFi also comes with some digital security concerns.
  • At some cafes, you can’t just stay all day. Sooner or later they’re going to want you to leave. Even if they don’t mind that you hang around all day, what about when you need to go to the bathroom? Who is going to keep an eye on your stuff?
  • Being able to find a spot near an electrical socket isn’t always easy.

My Experience

Cafes are great for short bursts of work. However, I can’t imagine myself hanging out in a coffee for a full 6 to 8 hours of work. While living in Chiang Mai, I would work out of cafes about three times a week. I got a lot of writing done as I found myself very stimulated by other people’s energy around me (or maybe it’s just the caffeine?).

Workspace Option 3: Coworking Space

Thanks to the growing number of freelancers, solopreneurs and remote workers, coworking spaces are popping up all over the world. These office-but-not-really spaces usually aim to capture the flexibility of working from home, minus the isolation.

The Pros

  • They are designed for work. You will have access to quality WiFi, desk space, wall sockets and, if you’re lucky, they’re ergonomically designed for comfort.
  • It’s a welcome solution to beating isolation as you meet and interact with other entrepreneurs and freelancers. In fact, you could even meet potential collaborators for your business as solopreneurs are often looking to partner with other solopreneurs.
  • Seeing other people around you working hard often motivates you to kick into high gear on goals, too.
  • Because they’re designed for work, they’re usually less distracting and quieter than a coffee shop (no eavesdropping on other people’s juicy social lives) or even your home office, where household tasks and other errands can often be a concentration-killer.

The Cons

  • Most will require a membership. Depending on where you’re located, some can cost a pretty penny.
  • Sometimes it can start to feel like you’re going to an office (with a commute). You probably became a solopreneur for the freedom, and a rigid office-going schedule can seem like the antithesis of this freedom lifestyle.
  • While some spaces have the option to reserve conference spaces, for the most part, you never have complete privacy as you’re working with several other people in the room.

My Experience

I’m currently living in Mexico and I work from a coworking space almost every day. I have a lot going on with my business so I find the need to be in an environment that forces me to be productive -- so this is perfect. I love this spot but I occasionally get over having to come to the “office” and on those days, I recharge by working from home.

So, what is a solopreneur’s ideal workspace?

The simple answer: the one where YOU feel most productive and get the most out of your working day. That being said, we all have different styles of working, and respond differently to various environments. It’s important to experiment with workspaces to see what works best for you. Here are some ideas of how to do just that:

  • Build an office space -- yes, with a desk! -- in your home to inspire productivity if working from the dining room table or your bed doesn’t always cut it.
  • If staying home every day is slowly sending you crazy, try mixing it up a with a coffee shop visit every few days.
  • If the coffee shop environment is entirely distracting but you enjoy the hum of people, consider using an app like Coffitivity that creates the ambient noises of a coffee shop but allows you to work from the comfort of your home office, instead.
  • Perhaps you enjoy the discipline of having to be somewhere every day to get your work done: invest in a coworking space to ramp up your productivity and meet other solopreneurs, too. Most spaces will offer “open house” days or a discounted day pass so you can give it a go before committing.
  • Or, if you’re like me and like being stimulated by different workspaces, you could just leave it open and change it up every few weeks/months depending on where you’re at in your business. The change in environment often boosts creativity and prevents you from becoming bored with your space.

Fortunately you have the freedom to choose and customize your workspace according to your needs. It’s just another perk of this awesome solopreneur life.

Where do you like to work from and why? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Two years ago, Radhika left her desk job behind to become a digital nomad and has been a full time traveler, ever since. She runs a completely location-independent marketing agency that allows her to travel and work from anywhere while blogging at Fulltime Nomad.

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  1. I love working from home but when I start to go stir crazy I go to my favorite coffee shop.

  2. Gemma Reeves says:

    I was trying to learn more about co-working and came across this post. And after reading this, it became clearer to me that co-working is the way to go. I’m a freelancer and am currently feeling burnt out because of the stresses of my job.

    If I work at a co-working space, it would be more relaxing since there are other people around me. Moreover, I can meet new people and maybe even get useful tips from others.

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