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We know coworking works, is co-living the next big trend?

We’ve known for a while the coworking is effective for everything from productivity to mental wellbeing, so it was only a matter of time before the model was applied elsewhere.

Co-living is the tepid trend that, well, if not exactly sweeping London then it’s definitely affectionately nipping at its toes.

If you’re not yet conversant: co-living is the miliennial-afied term for communal living. There are shared kitchens, shared TV rooms and shared gardens – but defiantly separate bedrooms. We are not in the Sixties now, guys. They can be (although aren’t always) cheaper than private renting but often come with access to a range of impressive amenities including gyms and cinemas.

Argued by some as an antidote to the capital’s crippling loneliness epidemic – and others as glorified student digs – co-living, like coworking, isn’t for everyone. Could the success of coworking really inspire more of us to bunk up and bed down?

To see how they compare, we have pitted coworking and its residential cousin in a merciless fight to the death (…or something like that). Which will come out top?

Space

This has to be the big one. One of the criticisms levelled at co-living is socialising comes at the expense of space. Bedrooms can, in some communities, be on the small side. Plus, where do you put your, like, stuff?

Additionally, social spaces are great – when you feel like being social? What if you feel like coming home from work, putting on your caterpillar onesie and going to ground on the sofa with a bag of Doritos and a Ru-Paul’s Drag Show marathon? Presumably, hope none of your co-co-livers fancy doing the same thing.

Read: A coworking office isn’t just a place to work – it’s a home from home

But then, how do coworking offices fare in the space stakes?  They tend to be designed with space and light in mind, with different areas where you can go to get your head down. But how much personal space can any of us really carve out in our workspace, shared or otherwise?

Winner: Draw. But if we were pushed, we’d rather have less space at work than at home. 

Mess

Like most co-working offices, many co-living spaces provide a team of cleaners but on a day-to-day basis it is up to members to keep the premises clean and tidy.

It’s hard to be really messy in a professional working environment, especially if you barely leave your desk, but with shared kitchen facilities, as well as shared meeting rooms, a little bit of mess is normal. Yet with members working for themselves or in small teams, there is a often a greater sense of responsibility and autonomy in contrast to company owned offices where staff may feel they have less ownership.

Living with other people is a different matter. Free from the onus to be on your best, most professional behaviour, your co-livers (cohabitants? Buildingmates?) are going to be their uninhibited, messy – or dirty, or terrifyingly obsessively clean – selves. True, it’s no different if you have a flat mate or two – but there are only two of them, not a building full.

Winner: Coworking. Gotta be. 

Logistics

When it comes to the practicalities of life, coworking really comes into its own. Coworking is inherently flexbile with minimal upfront commitment and the ability to up and move on when the time is right.

Long-term coworkers may find they have accrued a fair amount of desk ephemera but rarely less than a single car trip can cart away.

A common question when it comes co-living – and try saying that after some late-night shandies with your ‘buildingmates’ in the TV room – is: where does all your stuff go? It can’t be left to fester in the communal areas, so presumably it must exist in your room; co-livers must travel light. Yet what with clothes, toiletries, bedding and life ephemera, moving in, and out, is always going to be logistically challenging. When it comes to low-pressure, flexible movements…it’s got to be coworking, right?

Choice

Co-living at least in its current form, is a relatively new concept so naturally there is going to be fewer options to choose when pitted against shared offices – we can forgive it that.

Some of the most renowned in London are The Collective, Lyvly and Noiascape. They all boast architectural touches and modern amenities with homely interiors and offer a variety of added-value services. There are clearly many benefits to co-living but it is always going to have a relatively niche appeal. Coworking, conversely, is one of the fastest growing trends in the work sphere.

Winner: Call us bias, but give us coworking any day. 

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