Pandemic Smackdown: Coworking vs. Working From Home

Photo of a coworking space, people sitting around desks and tables, working.

Millions of people found themselves living their work-dream, working from home for weeks and months, even after our bosses told us it would be impossible and that the entire company would implode if anyone wasn’t at their desk during work hours.

In 2006, I worked for the Indiana State Department of Health and I was asked to write a work-from-home plan in case we had to deal with the avian flu pandemic. When I finished, I was told we would never actually implement the plan because the managers had no way of knowing whether people were getting their work done and that they had to be watched.

I always wondered why the managers had hired terrible workers who couldn’t do their work without adult supervision. That sounds like a problem of bad management.

Now we see that not only are people able to work from home, we’re thriving, meeting expectations, and getting stuff done.

But maybe, just maybe, we’d like a little break from being at home.

Not that we don’t love working at home, mind you. It’s great. It’s been awesome. We get to be with our family and our pets, we get to be surrounded by our stuff, dress in clothes that are comfortable, and get a snack whenever we want.

On the other hand, we’re stuck inside with our family and pets, we’re looking at the same stuff all day every day, we haven’t changed clothes in three days, and we put on 15 pounds.

Coworking offers a few breaks and amenities that you can’t get at home. On the other hand, there are things you can do at home that you can’t do at a coworking space.

So what are a few differences, good and bad, between coworking and working from home (WFH)?

The Differences Between Coworking and Working From Home

Photo of a coworking space, people sitting around desks and tables, working.Coworking is social. You can meet new people, talk to other adults, and network to find new opportunities. You get to talk to other adults and learn new things. WFH means talking to the same people over and over.

On the other hand, spend enough time coworking and you’ll still talk to the same people over and over, but you get a break at night and over the weekend. Also, you love the people at home more.

WFH means you can wear the same clothes day after day, and you don’t have to shower every morning if you don’t feel like it. Coworking means you should practice basic hygiene and not wear the same clothes two days in a row.

On the other hand, coworking means your pets don’t avoid you after four days of not showering. Also, I don’t think your shirt is supposed to stick to you like that.

Coworking means driving to work and finding a place to park. WFH means you can roll out of bed at 7:55 and be “at work” with a hat and a minute to spare.

On the other hand, your podcasts keep piling up because you normally listen to them during your commute to and from work.

Coworking means you can sneak a Sausage McMuffin on your way to work without your spouse finding out. WFH means being reminded about “spoiling your dinner” when you look in the refrigerator for the 7th time.

On the other hand, WFH means being able to eat healthily and not have carb-heavy, grease-laden lunches.

Coworking spaces often have snacks, coffee, soft drinks, and occasionally even beer. WFH means competing with everyone else for the same old snacks. Also, one of your kids just ate the last of the Fritos.

On the other hand, there’s something a little unseemly about having a beer at 11 in the morning. Plus, you can’t hide your favorite snacks in a coworking space. At home, your family doesn’t know about that secret hiding place where you stashed your Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

WFH means you clean and do your laundry whenever you need a break. But coworking means you can focus on your job without being distracted.

On the other hand, we had meetings to break up the monotony of sitting in front of your computer for 8 hours a day. Also, those towels aren’t going to fold themselves.

WFH means you get to be with your pets, who love you unconditionally and want to be with you all the time. (Unless you have cats.) Coworking means. . . yeah, we got nuthin’. Pets are awesome.

On the other hand, the dogs bark at every damn car, pedestrian, and squirrel and I can’t hear myself think!

Working from home can be pretty great — at least we thought so when we sat in yet another traffic jam going to or from the office. But now that many of us have been working from home since March, the luster might have worn off a bit.

A coworking space can give you a much-needed break, and you don’t have to come in all day, every day. If you want a break from home, look for a coworking space in your area and start venturing back out into the workplace a couple times a week.

To learn more about coworking and how it can work for remote workers, entrepreneurs, and startups, please visit our website at

Photo credit: (Licensed for Commercial Use)

Erik Deckers is the Director of Marketing for Neoware Studios. He also owns a content marketing agency and has co-authored four books on social media marketing, including Branding Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media. He was the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando.