I love working at cafes.
Enjoying the smell of roasting coffee, the quiet chatter of patrons while I work on my novel or blog posts on my laptop - it's one of the pleasures I have in life. Somehow, I’m more productive in a cafe - a New Scientist article claims that the ambient noise of a cafe is good for productivity.
Until a screaming child sits next to you.
Or when someone starts to watch a Netflix show on his mobile phone with the speaker on high volume.
You know what the New Scientist article also said? When the ambient noise at a cafe rises above a certain decibel, it becomes disruptive instead.
Maybe it’s a culture thing - but in Malaysia, I’ve had trouble finding a cafe to do my work in.
I had no problem doing that when I lived in Australia. I had a few favourite neighbourhood coffee joints where I would buy a cuppa and plonk in one corner to write my novel. One of my favourite cafes was right by the beach near Glenelg. I would work on my novel while I listen to the sound of waves and take in the quiet chatter of people around me.
But in Malaysia … people do not seem to have the civic awareness that there are patrons who paid for the privilege to not just enjoy their coffee, but to enjoy it in peaceful, relaxing environment.
Besides the noise and annoying patrons, there are a few more downsides to working in cafes:
1. Spotty wifi
Finding a cafe with great, reliable wifi is like digging for gold in your nose
2. Gets expensive
Since I'm not the sort to just park myself there and order water, I will order some drinks. A lot of times, the drink itself will cost more than RM10. Most of the time I spent about RM20+ for a three-hour visit.
3. Toilet breaks = have to leave shop, may not be able to come back.
It's super annoying to walk far away to a toilet, and then some cafes may require you to buy stuff before you use their wifi again.
So, recently I hopped over to a coworking place in Subang Jaya called Headspace to try it out.
I absolutely loved it.
Here are the advantages of working from a co-working space:
1. Reliable, all-day wifi
Cafes like Starbucks limit the use of their wifi, as they should. At a coworking space, you have access all day, and that’s so vital when you need to work on something!
2. A place built for work
The desks will be equipped with power points. There will be printers and meeting rooms. And you won't have noisy patrons or a screaming child parked next to you. Oh yes, the joy of that.
3. Supply of food and drinks
Some co-working spaces, like Headspace, will give you freeflow access to snacks and drinks. That could be very handy and cost-effective in the long run. I think access to water is a minimum or it could get difficult to work for long periods of time.
4. Work for as long as the period you paid for
You can work from 10am-5pm without getting weird looks from the barista. It’s also great value for money. Many coworking spots offer RM20-RM30 day passes, and if you stay there for longer than 4 hours, it’s truly worth it, considering the perks & facilities you get.
5. Opportunity to be social and to network
As cost-effective as it may be, it gets lonely working from home. In fact, I can’t work alone at home for more than three hours - it drives me a little batty and sometimes I even get depressed by it!
I mean, it's not like I want to work in a noisy, vibrant environment where people talk to me all the time. (I would probably hate you forever if you do that to me during work.) What I like is to work with people around me. Don't talk to me. Just sit around me and do your work and I'm happy.
You know, extrovert problems.
Some co-working spaces have activities where coworkers can mingle and exchange ideas. Also, working close to several small businesses would surely open up opportunities for the freelancer or more. Still, even if you prefer to sit alone and work, it helps to have the buzz of activity around you.
Final word - do it!
So yes, I'm sold. I love boutique outfits like Headspace because it's cost-effective and homey, and I like supporting local businesses.
If you're thinking of trying out a co-working space and don't know where to start? I'd recommend looking up places like Fave to get deals. I paid RM12 for all-day access at Headspace and I definitely don't regret it.
You can also check out if some co-working spaces join the free co-working day initiative. Occasionally, some spaces throw out their does open for folks to try out. Use one of those days to try one out.