The Risks of Coworking Spaces

Freelancers and small business owners have made coworking spaces the new popular, practical spot to set up shop. These collaborative work environments have attracted hundreds of thousands of users in the last few years.

Big Advantages

Independent contractors and freelancers are now a big percentage of the workforce and the numbers keep growing. The numbers have grown exponentially since the economic meltdown in 2008.

Coworking spaces reduce the sense of isolation for people who work on their own, getting them out of the house and its domestic distractions. They make it easy for creatives, innovators, and entrepreneurs to collaborate. The cost is much less than renting space in an office building.

Big Risks

People using coworking spaces tend to be so happy with the environment that they are unaware that it has its own risks. They may not think of possibilities of data hacking, equipment theft, or intellectual property theft. In addition, it can be a situation of exchanging the distractions of home for the distractions of the water cooler.

Here is an look at what those using coworking spaces need to keep an eye on:

Data breaches: Reliable Wi-Fi is often one of the prime attractions of signing up for coworking space. But public internet is risky if you own a business, are working on a startup, or earn your living as a freelancer or independent contractor. Confidential information, data that needs to be kept secure, core ideas and creative content can become available to competitors and thieves. In the worst case scenario, you could actually be on the receiving end of a liability lawsuit. To minimize the problem, set up a network security protocol to prevent the leaking of sensitive data.

Equipment theft: Coworking spaces vary in how secure they are. Though definitely a step up from working in your local coffee shop, they are not protected environments. Laptops, mobile devices and gear of all types are attractive to thieves when you leave them unattended.

Intellectual property theft and leaks: In a coworking situation, it is easy to overhear other users, whether in conversation or on the phone. If your startup is based on your design for the perfect app, someone else might easily take the information he hears and run with it. Even if someone doesn’t intentionally try to steal the info, he might inadvertently use it after hearing you discuss it in the public space of the coworking area. Minimize risks and protect your intellectual property by reserving one of the private rooms available at most of them.

Wasting time and money: The chance to socialize is one of the big advantages of coworking. Likewise, one of its risks is spending too much time discussing the big game with fellow coworkers over an espresso and cookies, both of which you buy from the owners of the coworking space. You need to carefully monitor your money and time to make sure the social advantage doesn’t cancel out the expense.

Employment law issues: In many coworking areas, drinking is ok. Combined with the fact that many users are young, this can lead to situations that in a traditional office setting would be called sexual harassment. In other circumstances, discrimination might become an issue. Everyone in a coworking environment needs to protect herself and be aware of the laws affecting business and employment in these environments.

Normal business protection: One of the attractions of coworking is the low overhead. But every freelancer and startup needs to play it safe by getting adequate business insurance coverage, including cyber liability insurance, general liability and property insurance, and  intellectual property and trademark insurance. Speak to Bolt Insurance Agency if you utilize coworking spaces for work.