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Microeconomics of Coworking – Leveraging that $5 coffee by turning the Coffee Shop into your office

Microeconomics of Coworking – Turning a Coffee Shop into your office in exchange for a $5 coffee

Your ownership of a small business often means that you also have a small budget. With this in mind, let’s look at the Microeconomics of Coworking by talking dollars and cents. $20, $100, or $1000 expenditures can put a dent in the bottom line of the business that opened its doors just 2 weeks ago. Your new business might be an infant at the moment in need of coddling until it can crawl, then walk, then run.

The Works serves small businesses with private office space, dedicated desks, phone booths, unlimited access plans, and conference rooms for rent. But we aren’t oblivious to the fact that expenses (and the stress that those expenses cause) are a tough reality when you’re trying to get your company off the ground. You’re bootstrapped. Your ambitions outweigh your revenue. That doesn’t mean you’re going to fail. Sweat equity is a concept that works for small businesses just getting started. You’re probably already wearing many hats. You’re the marketing person, the IT person,  accounts payable, accounts receivable, graphic designer, and more. Unfortunately, the concept of sweat equity doesn’t eliminate all expenses. You’re going to spend money as your business grows.

So off to the coffee shop you go. They have free internet and some tables that you plan to turn into a work desk…..and that’s all you need to be productive today, right?

Consider this potential outcome of working at the local Coffee Shop:

You drive over to the local coffee shop.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a table to sit at.  You set up your laptop and get the wifi password from the Barista.  That table you’re sitting at is for 4 people, that’s all that was available when you arrived.  Soon after you arrive multiple parties of 4 arrive looking for a place to sit.  But there are none available. Well, there was one available, but you decided that it would be your desk for the rest of the morning.

Now you’re getting a few uncomfortable stares because these foursomes can’t sit down because you’re sitting at the only available table that fits them all.  This happens a few more times.  Maybe this bothers you, maybe it doesn’t.  I mean you bought a $5 coffee, right?  You’re now entitled to turn the coffee shop into your office. You avoid making eye contact with anyone else who may want to sit down and enjoy their Pumpkins Spice Latte.

Then comes the time to make the first of 6 phone calls you need to make before noon.  By now, the coffee shop is bustling with activity. Baristas yell out names when coffee orders are ready. College kids yucking it up in line about what happened in class earlier in the morning. The shop’s “regulars” are making small talk with their favorite employees at the coffee shop. But you’re going to power through this noise, right?  You’re committed.  What are your alternatives?  Go sign a 7-year lease at the office park down the street?

You have a game plan and you’re ready to make your first phone call.  You’re prepared to hit the mute button on your phone as often as necessary so whoever you’re talking to doesn’t hear the constant drone of background noise.

Your hand-eye coordination is sharp when it comes to smartphones. But mid-way thru your phone call, you forget to hit the mute button and all your prospect hears is a busy coffee shop.  You’re asking them to repeat themselves over and over again.  Half of what you say to them is lost in the background noise. Annoying for both of you.

You walk outside so you can finish your call in peace.  But it’s mid-summer in Dallas (high heat and humidity so you start sweating through your clothing), or Pittsburgh, PA (you’re going to perspire or get rained on), or Phoenix (115 degrees).

But now you’re distracted. You realize that you left your wallet or purse, your $2k MacBook Pro, and your noise-canceling headphones sitting unattended at a table in the coffee shop. You’ve now lost your concentration thinking about your “stuff” sitting inside the coffee shop unattended.  Your call doesn’t end well.  You wanted a commitment to a follow-up call, an in-person meeting, or a demo of your product. None of that happened. What started as a fantastic introduction to you and your product or service ended with a non-committal “I’ll call you back some time” or “I’ll take a look at your website and let you know if we’re interested”.  You don’t have to be a 30-year sales pro to know what those statements mean. You blew it.

People working in a coffee shop
People working in a coffee shop – Getting nothing done

You have options for a shared workspace in Gilbert, AZ:

Instead of the coffee shop, you try something different. You book the Day Pass at The Works. You plan to start at 9 am and work until noon.  That’s a few hours to see if working at a coworking space is a good fit for you.

The Day Pass is the introductory membership plan at The Works.  It’s for those who need a place to work for a few hours or a whole business day.  There is no commitment other than to show up and get stuff done. It’s an escape from the distractions at home. It’s more conducive to getting things done than the coffee shop.

If you like being around others, you work out in the open area. A bullpen of sorts. The sounds of keyboards clicking, doors opening and closing, and other members on phone calls put you at ease. This is the atmosphere for you.

If you like quiet solitude though, you’ll spend time in one of our phone booths.  Decked out with acoustic tiles, and comfy/cushy chairs, and a bar ledge for your laptop you drift off into quiet productivity.  That Zoom call you take isn’t going to be overheard by others.  That private phone call to your doctor isn’t overheard by anyone else. That “Hell Yeah!” you let out when that HUGE quote you sent to your client just got that last signature of approval isn’t heard by anyone else.


IMG 4016
Private Phone Booth at The Works

The Coffee Shop and the Microeconomics of Coworking:

  • Hotspots at some coffee shop sometimes “time out” at the most inopportune time. There is a hidden cost to losing your internet connection.
  • Some coffee shops will limit your time working unless you’re buying coffee and/or pastries. There is a cost to being told to leave your “Coffee Shop Office”
  • There is plenty of Tea and Coffee at the Works. Your caffeine needs are accounted for, and the cost of your drinks is $0.
  • If you have a guilty conscience, you may end up buying 2 or 3 coffees or some desserts that you otherwise wouldn’t be eating mid-day. There goes $15-$25. For what? Spotty Wifi and lots of background noise?
  • It’s often difficult to escape from the coffee shop hustle & bustle. When you need to be comfortably silent, what do you do, go hang out in the restroom? At the Works, you settle into a phone booth and shut the door. At that point, the world slows down for you, in a good way.
  • That 5-page contract that you need to print. I’m sure the baristas will stop what they’re doing, get a USB Drive from you with your file on it, confirm with you the name of the file that you need to have printed, ask the boss if they can print something for a customer, then head to the back office and plug the USB Drive into the port on the front of the Management PC, then come back out front to ask you if you want the Word doc of the PDF printed (or both), then head to the printer in the back while a line of coffee customers gets longer and longer. There is a fine line between “Getting stuff done” at the coffee shop and being a nuisance to the employees and customers.
  • Standing desks are all the rage with so many workers working from places other than traditional offices. Standing while working at the coffee shop is weird though. Standing while working at The Works doesn’t get a second look.
  • Coworking Spaces are small business advocates who are prepared to help you succeed for the day. The coffee shop employees may or may not care how well your business is doing. There is a cost to being the only person in the coffee shop that cares about your business.
  • Ethernet options. Most coffee shops don’t have Ethernet connectivity for customers. The Works Gilbert has high-speed fiber optic ethernet connections for our members. Most don’t use them because our Wifi speed is fast and reliable, but they’re available.
  • When you need to get some work done at 10 pm on a Sunday the coffee shop doors don’t open and it’s dark inside for some reason. Don’t they know you have work to do?
Ethernet Jack
Ethernet Jack

What if you need to meet with other people?

If you need to meet with other people in person, the coffee shop becomes a difficult proposition. It’s time to forget the coffee shop and have a real meeting with limited distractions. 

Zoom and other online meeting technologies are here to stay. But there is tremendous value in meeting in the same room with others. These “others” can be your colleagues, customers, clients, attorneys, physicians, project team members, or tutors.  Our private meeting rooms are available to the public. You do not need to be a current member of the Works to make use of the Ray Room and Higley Room.  Check availability and rates here.

By reserving one of our conference rooms for you and your other attendees you’ll be able to take advantage of:

  • There is less stepping on someone else’s words when the conversation is in person.  No “Sorry you go, no, you finish, no, you go”.
  • Body language is often lost in Zoom Calls. Body language is important.
  • You’re more likely to establish trust when you have a person-to-person conversation with someone, and that’s huge.
  • No dealing with the least common denominator from a technical standpoint. The attendee that doesn’t know how to share their screen, or find the mute button, or change their background. They just aren’t very good at using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Webex and that’s OK, but the meeting suffers. 
  • Real voice inflection, real eye contact, more compassion. People behave differently when they are communicating online. We’ve all heard the term “Keyboard Warriors”. Apparently, Keyboard Warriors change their tune when meeting face to face. Who knew?
  • Handshakes – there is bi-directional power in a handshake. It’s the universal greeting in most of the world, and handshakes don’t happen virtually. Michael Massari, Caesars Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of National Meetings and Events says in this Forbes article “No matter what industry you work in, we are all in the people business. Regardless of how tech-savvy you may be, face-to-face meetings are still the most effective way to capture the attention of participants, engage them in the conversation, and drive productive collaboration. If we don’t continue to nurture strong and positive personal relationships with our clients and coworkers, we won’t build trust, understanding, or a sense of a shared mission – all of which are critical elements to successful partnerships and business success.”

But don’t just take our word for it:

5 Reasons Why You Should Work in a Coworking Space Instead of a Coffee Shop
Coworking Space VS Coffee Shop
Coworking Space vs. Coffee Shop: Why Coworking Wins

Questions?  Let’s talk.  Chat with us (lower left part of the screen), Call us 480-788-2296, or email us at hello@theworksgilbert.com

Disclaimer: We’re not bashing our beloved coffee neighbors. We LOVE coffee and our local coffee shops. That Blackout drink from Black Rock Coffee? Don’t get me started. It’s worth every one of its 500 calories. And the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbuck? People go absolutely bonkers over this seasonal drink, and for good reason. It’s delicious! And we don’t forget our mom & pop coffee shops. Small business rules! 

Speaking of Coffee. What have we been drinking at The Works lately?

SF Bay Coffee OneCUP French Roast/Dark RoastSF Bay Coffee OneCUP French Roast/Dark Roast – Dark, rich, and doesn’t come in the plastic cup that we’re used to seeing from our k-cups.

CozyUp 100-Count French Roast Coffee Pods for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, Dark RoastCozyUp 100-Count French Roast Coffee Pods for Keurig K-Cup Brewers, Dark Roast – French Roast Coffee, Extra-Extra Bold, Full Bodied with a Smooth, Milky, Buttery Finish. Buttery? Yep, and it’s really good.

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