5 Coworking Space Must-Haves That Will Make or Break Your Productivity

The most popular reason that remote workers give for going back to an office is that they miss “the social aspect.” Working in an colocated environment can provide a community energy that fuels motivation and creativity, especially for extroverted personalities. Hence, the growing trend of coworking spaces where location-independent professionals can share a dedicated work space while still enjoying the benefits of an untethered lifestyle.

But be warned that coworking spaces are NOT one size fits all! From beach cabanas to urban skyscrapers, these work environments come in all shapes and sizes. So how is a remote worker to choose? When researching new spaces, you’re definitely going to be thinking about common criteria such as proximity to transportation, available office supplies, and on-site dining options, but there are a few more precedents that you may not have thought of yet. You’re going to want to add these five coworking must-haves to your list, because without them, you’re just paying a membership fee to be distracted and irritated while you try to work. If your coworking space doesn’t have these five must-haves, it’s a deal-breaker.

1. Culture Fit

If you’re the type of professional that takes pride in a well-pressed business suit, it’s likely that you’re going to feel isolated and socially frustrated if you try working from a space in a shack where surfers and dreadlocks thrive. Pay attention to what type of environment and demographic motivates you and your unique working style, then look for a coworking culture to match.

2. Ergonomics

We all know that we need access to office supplies that aren’t mobile-friendly, such as a fridge or printer, but we often neglect to think about the tool that we use more than any other: our seats! It’s crucial for your productivity that you are comfortable and supported for the entire stretch of time that you’re working. In a new space, look for multiple ergonomic seating options, such as supportive chairs, standing desks, and adjustable lap desks.

3. Networking Opportunities

A major draw of coworking spaces is their networking value. But the relationships to be formed are only as valuable as the people in them. It is going to serve you well to surround yourself with people with similar goals, industries, or business sizes to your own. For example, if you’re a freelance graphic designer with a goal of lead generation, you’re going to want to look for coworking communities that attract other freelancers and small business owners, since employees of large companies probably have design services provided in-house.

(Note: Take a moment to reflect on the fact that if you’re only joining a coworking space for the social benefits, you’re likely to become the dreaded officemate that is infamous for bothering other members while they are trying to work. A wise alternative would be to join a networking group or attend local industry meetups instead.)

4. Work Environment

The entire premise of remote work is that workers are empowered to choose the environment that fuels their productivity, but all of that freedom goes to waste if you’re only concerned about the view and don’t pay attention to the rest of the environmental factors, such as lighting, smell, temperature, air quality, and noise. Simply put, you’re going to have a hard time getting into some deep headspace if you’re sitting in a sticky chair next to someone with 3-day old socks.

5. Customer Service

Speaking of environment, who is taking care of the coworking space? And you, for that matter? In every space, be sure to ask: Is there a host easily accessible for quick questions or maintenance emergencies? Are the bathroom and cafe/kitchen areas being cleaned regularly? Is there a resource for workers to submit complaints or feedback? If you value the space enough to pay the fees, you can (and should) expect to be valued in return.

The moral of the story is to always, always utilize a 1–2 day trial period before committing to any membership fees in any coworking space. Carefully consider where your membership fees are going and whether you and your unique working style are getting enough bang for your buck.

This story was originally published on Remote.com.