If your home office no longer fits the bill and you don’t want to fork out for a dedicated office for your business, then you may want to consider a coworking space.
A coworking space is a shared workspace that you can use on a highly flexible basis. You can rent a desk or an office space on a monthly, weekly or daily basis. They’re also a more cost effective option than a restrictive and expensive rental agreement.
Research reveals coworking can be 60 to 75% cheaper if your business has less than 30 employees. What’s more, as your business grow you can easily scale up in a coworking space and rent our meeting rooms on an ad hoc basis.
Coworking spaces also tend to attract small businesses and entrepreneurs, so you’ll also be part of a great community with plenty of networking opportunities. A study from the Harvard Business Review reveals that 82% of coworkers believe it has expanded their professional network and 64% said networking has been an important source of work and business referrals.
The Farm Coworking in New York.
Each coworking space is different in terms of who it attracts and what it offers to its community. Here are a few points you may want to consider when choosing a coworking space to match the needs of your business:
Where do you want to go?
You may want to work near your home, or near your clients. It depends on how you want to use the space. For example, if you’re using it as a base to meet and entertain clients, it makes sense to go where your customers are. Or, if you just want a change of scenery from your home office, a short commute may be more appealing.
When it comes to your commute, do your homework and assess different transport routes. If possible, you may want to do a couple of dry runs at different times of day to see how long it will actually take you to get to a space.
What services do you need?
Each coworking space differs in its facilities and services. Most offer a communal kitchen with plenty of free coffee and tea, wifi, office supplies and a range of events.
In terms of services, some spaces run incubators and business development programs as part of the wider space. An incubator will offer your business a high level of support and mentorship, but these can be highly competitive and you may need to offer some of your business’s equity in return.
Other coworking spaces are shared offices that anyone can use. While these do not offer the same level of support as an incubator, they are more flexible and cost effective options.
Desk or office?
Most shared spaces will let you work from a hot desk, permanent desk space or a private office.
A hot desk is a good choice if you want to cowork on an ad hoc basis. A permanent desk or set of desks in a communal area would work well if you want to use a space more regularly or have a small team. Alternatively, you could rent a private office if your work is confidential or you just want a little more privacy.
4.What resources are available?
Your business may need specific resources to run. For example, if you work in the creative sector, you may need a space with a dedicated workshop. Some spaces are also aimed at specific industries and, consequently, have built a strong community of like-minded business professionals.
Also, try to find a space with good workspace management practices in place. You don’t want to work in a space that’s got patchy connectivity or a dodgy printer. Ask the coworking space how they deal with such issues.
What community will you be part of?
Each coworking space cultivates a unique culture and it’s important to gauge the atmosphere from both your perspective and your clients’ perspective.
It helps to book a tour of a potential space. Lucas Seyhun, co-founder of NYC-based The Farm Coworking, said: “A tour is a great opportunity to meet the people using a space, which is vital to check the community matches your business ethos.”
“Also, ask what events are offered at the coworking space. This will give you a better deal of the opportunities on offer and how the space interacts with its community,” Lucas added.
A community manager is also a great source of information too – whether you have a question about the space, its community or your business, make sure you make full use of their knowledge.
Finding your fit
Coworking has seen an astronomical rise in popularity in recent times. In 2017, there were more than one million people using such spaces and 13,800 coworking spaces globally (compared to 11,300 in 2016).
So, you should have plenty of coworking spaces to choose from. And the flexibility of coworking means that, if you aren’t happy with a specific space, you can easily change to a different location.
Gemma Church is “the freelance writer who gets tech”. A journalist, copywriter and blogger for the science and technology sectors and editor for the NYC-based coworking space The Farm Coworking.