This blog was originally posted in Dutch on Meetings In The Sun.

It seems like the biggest contradiction in our new way of working: leave your 9 to 5, ditch your cubicle, and even get out of your country, just to pay to sit down in a coworking office abroad. Sure, a coworking space is probably more expensive than a few cappuccinos a day in a cafe, but it also saves you time and boosts productivity. Why choose a coworking space over a cafe? Let’s work it out. 

Finding a workspace that works for you

It all starts with the search: You find a great looking cafe on Instagram, only to get there and find that there is no spot available or that the internet connection is as unstable as Bridget Jones after she just got dumped – again. 

Working remotely often means that you have the freedom to pick your work spot, which can be a whole job on its own. Cafes have become increasingly popular to work from, and many are adapting to this trend. Nevertheless, it’s never a real workspace and it comes with some downsides – especially if you want to work for hours on end, focussed and still have some flexibility without chaining yourself to that one free table.

In a coworking space, you pay for practicality, which pays back in boosted productivity. You are certain of a spot, have the facilities you need, and often many additional services such as printing or even meeting rooms. Although there’s a lot more to it, the benefits of coworking spaces, as opposed to cafes, can be generalized in two aspects. Here’s the deal:

Activity-Based Workspaces 

Some environments are created to get work done – which is not the case for a cafe. Each day as a remote worker is different, and a workspace needs to be flexible enough to accommodate that: From a Skype call to an intense writing session, and from battery-draining video edits to piles of paperwork. Although cafes drag you out of the loneliness of your own home, provide food and maybe even a nice place to sit – it is necessary to find a work spot that (literally) fits your needs – and your stuff. 

Coworking spaces are designed to adapt to your working needs: Skype booths, social areas, big working tables or private desks and often even cafes for a quick bite. You can spend your whole day in a coworking office, finding little corners and big spaces to match your mood and activity. More than one research has proven the productivity-boosting effects of well-designed coworking spaces, which could make it worth the investment.

But a coworking space is not just about space

Work and life are becoming less of a balancing act and more of a mix – which is exactly what is happening in coworking spaces. Whether you’re traveling around or staying in one place, working remotely means that you can miss out on a lot of social aspects. Especially when starting out – family and friends are just a matter of Skype, and you’re missing a team of coworkers around you (yes, you will miss them). Not to mention being by your lonesome self in a different city or country. 

Although cafes can be quite social places and it’s a come and go of people, it’s quite hard to connect to others who are just stopping by for their daily coffee-to-go. 

Coworking spaces are a hub of like-minded people and give them a place to thrive and connect: on a professional and on a personal level. More often than not, coworking spaces will advertise their ‘’community’’, which is a big part of the whole concept itself. You’ll find a freely traveling freelancer or an experienced expat, making a friend or even a cool collab. 

Freedom with a hint of security 

Of course, every digital nomad is unique and nothing beats the buzz of finding a hidden gem to work from. But if you’re looking for a more long term solution, are easily distracted by the sight of red velvet cake, or want to connect to other remote workers, a coworking space might be the solution for you. Many places offer trial days, and (short) memberships without commitment, so give it a shot! Starbucks isn’t going anywhere after all.

Bonus tip: want to benefit from the co-working vibes but still want to roam around? Check!