As someone who earned the degree of digital nomad amateur, I had the opportunity to work in many places around South East Asia and Africa. On several times I decided I wanted some comfort, so I gathered my things and went straight to a work hub aka co-working space.
Every digital nomad I met absolutely loved these places and most people don’t consider them to be offices. Many work spaces have great features, like pools and stunning backgrounds, but for me, they are still offices. And I hate them!
First, why would you invest your money in such a space?
I worked at SunDesk, in Morocco, where I was paying 180 euro per month to access the work space. Considering the fact you only rent a desk, this is a huge rip off! I heard other people talking about how much they saved by working in a co-working space in Chiang Mai- I can’t argue with them, but from what I saw, co-working spaces are expensive.
Many offer accommodation, which is another financial trap. Yes, I do enjoy the luxury of a nice hotel-like room from time to time, especially when you had no hot water for months, but living more than a month in a work space is a huge don’t! The rooms are usually very small and most of them have no kitchen, which is a major disadvantage. Luckily for me, at SunDesk they do have kitchens, but I still don’t think the room is worth the money.
Second, co-working spaces are filled with digital nomads who type on their laptops. Those I met at SunDesk only wanted to sell their own products to everyone around. Most of the times, their products are not valuable, at least not for another digital nomad who already knows what to pack for a trip in Africa.
It’s always easier to wake up and go to your own desk, in your rented house, then get work done. When you are in a co-working space you have to adjust everything each time you take a seat, plug your equipment, make small talk with other people, while you get a cup of coffee. Not quite productive.
There are many people who argue that co-working spaces are great motivational hubs, but I believe in self-motivation. If you need a room full of strangers to motivate you to work, then freelancing is not for you. The essence of being a freelancer is being able to motivate yourself and get your work done, no matter when and where.
For example, my most productive time of the day is the evening, so I often wake up late and start working around noon. Once I start working, I only stop when I finish the task on hand or the project.
For me, other people are a distraction. You have to talk to them, exchange polite “hellos” and before you know, half the day had gone with the wind and you’ve achieved nothing.
As for people who advertise co-working spaces as excellent places to socialize, I never felt the need to go to an office in order to talk to other people. I can socialize after work, when I explore the surroundings.
Working in such a hub is not essential for a digital nomad. Some people do it successfully, others don’t. I belong to the latter, as I am completely against the idea of renting an expensive desk in an office where other people can distract me from work. By writing this, I realize this is the exact description of my former job. And oh! I quit it!