There is a new work style culture taking the world by storm – an innovative disruption in the way we collaborate as humans and the way we work each day. This time it’s challenging the traditional spaces that entrepreneurs, start ups and companies work within. And the way that those talented individuals and teams work together.
In this article I’ll explore what coworking spaces are, their pros and cons and the observations I’ve made when touring coworking spaces to date.
How coworking spaces became “a thing”
Every business starts somewhere. For a while, your business idea is just an inquisitive thought. Then it turns into some notes scribbled down on paper or a few mind maps built on your laptop. From there your business gets legs. And you find yourself working in your study, home office, your garage and maybe even local cafes or a public library.
At this point you are likely to be running your business on the smell of an oily rag. And to be honest, you can grow your business into something very successful using all (or some) of these locations to base yourself as you work to develop your business.
In the past, we have associated the first signs of business success, as renting out office space. You know what I mean. A small office space with your company name on the door, a receptionist to greet your clients and desks for your growing team.
But the very act of creating a “traditional shop front”, eats into the cash you could be using on product or service innovation, wooing staff, developing marketing collateral, building a website and entertaining prospective clients.
Enter to a new company office alternative. Coworking space.
What does coworking mean?
Coworking is when independent workers come together to work in a shared work space. Individuals from all kinds of backgrounds and industries colocate in a space, accessing shared facilities, equipment and a sense of optimism.
The most meaningful outcome of working in the one space is the synergy that occurs when talented people share thoughts and ideas. Coworking creates a stimulating environment where collective knowledge, skills and experience merge. Opportunities are created for collaboration and innovation which enables accelerated company growth.
So let’s compare coworking to some other alternatives that you should consider when deciding where you will base yourself to grow your business.
The key benefits of coworking spaces
Not all coworking facilities are the same. Some are literally desks, a few meeting rooms and some office supplies. Other coworking spaces offer far more than this.
In general, coworking is more than just a professional presence, office space, and infrastructure. Co working is about community. Members interact, share, help, and collaborate in ways that foster new business formation, growth and innovation.
Here are the key benefits as I see them:
- Greater motivation as you feed off the energy of others – a large percentage of those who move to coworking spaces report improved professional success
- Provides the option of professional working space to meet with clients without footing the bill for your own office space
- Offers the opportunity to work alongside other like minded people which can be energising and motivating
- May generate referral business directly from those companies around you and from the coworking facility referring business as well
- Offers an energised environment that your clients are very likely to feel more comfortable in than a café. Most coworking spaces give a sense of professionalism, innovation and progression
- People often build greater work satisfaction when operating alongside other entreprenuers, freelancers, business owners and independent consultants
Typically those who join coworking spaces say they experience:
- increased motivation in a coworking environment
- greater social interactivity with other coworkers outside of a work setting
- a more relaxed homelife – finding a better work/life balance
- better organization in a coworking environment
- greater frequency of team collaboration
- an increase in income
Pros and Cons of Coworking Spaces
Here’s a quick summary of the pros and cons of working from a coworking space:
- It’s less expensive than renting your own office space
- Your team can flex with minimal impact – whether you are a small team or a larger team, the coworking space is likely to offer an efficient set up for you
- The coworking company takes care of SO many tasks for you – from snacks and processing mail to ordering paper and doing a whole bunch of admi tasks for you, you can get in with your core business without menial office hassles
- Working with people from other startups, entrepreneurs and freelancers is a dream means you are likely to have advice on hand when you need it
- The sense of community can be infectious! From panel discussions, guest speakers and industry expert talks to advisory sessions, you are likely to find many meaningful and helpful ways to connect with others in the business community
Obviously there are some challenging aspects of working from a coworking space. The key challenges include:
- The likelihood of experiencing some distractions and interruptions
- Maintaining confidentiality if there are other similar companies working out of the same space
- Travel time – if you currently work from home your travel time to work is 0 hours. Work out how much travel time you will have to get to the coworking space. Weigh that up against the hours you could be working. But also be mindful that sometimes the collaborative benefits outweigh time wasting commutes.
- Cost – yep. Coworking spaces cost money
Comparison of coworking space with other options
Coworking space vs Library
Working in a library is free! This is obviously one key benefit of basing yourself there to develop your business. A library has basic resources such as books, e-books, public computer access and some facilities such as photocopiers.
Whilst the space is designed to serve the community with different areas to read or study, you often need to wait for shared resources and of course you don’t have a formal reception area to receive clients or customers (if that is important to you).
Many libraries do allow you to hire
meeting rooms which presents a valuable resource at an affordable price. Your
local library may well be very close to your home which frees up time you might
otherwise be using to commute into the central business district of your city.
If you are in the early stages of building your business, a local library is a good alternative to working from your home office, especially if you are looking for a change of scene. But working from a library won’t give you access to the resources or sense of community and energy you are likely to feel in a thriving coworking space.
Coworking space vs Business Center
The distinction between a coworking space and a business center is blurring. Traditionally, office business centers have offered serviced and shared offices. The principle is based on offering companies not only a place for you to work, but a place you can nominate as your professional business address.
Office business centers offer a professional environment – and not just a desk or couch in a coffee-shop-like environment, which is the norm for some coworking spaces. In saying that, many coworking spaces are starting to offer spaces and resources similar to those offered in a business center.
Perhaps if there was a distinction to be made, business centers may well be a little more conservative in nature than some of the coworking spaces that are starting to pop up in major cities around the world.
Business center tenants pay a monthly fee to use the address and utilize a dedicated or non-dedicated desk when they need a space to work. Tenants have easy access to professional boardrooms including access to high tech meeting rooms that they might not normally be able to afford in a traditional standalone office space.
Depending on the city you live in, you may well find that the costings of each of these options are on par.
Coworking space vs Café/Coffee shop
Cafes and coffee shops are common places to find small business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs working across the day. And you are effectively securing your table for the cost of a latte! But there are some limitations. You cannot work there for large periods of time at once and the suitability of meeting clients in a cafe, will depend on the brand image you are looking to convey.
I suspect that many of you starting up a company have spent your fair share of time on your laptop in a local café or two. I certainly have. The ambient noise of those around me happens to really work for me. OK, so does the coffee! Being around others makes me feel more connected with the world. More inspired to push forward a range of tasks that will help my business to grow.
But, there are lots of
variables that you cannot control in a café including the noise levels, the
table you sit at (careful of the baby behind you throwing toast on the floor),
and the general vibe of the café itself. Also, when working in a café, you don’t
have access to facilities such as private meeting rooms, photocopiers and
dedicated spaces for collaborating with others.
Having worked successfully in cafes before, I certainly think there are some advantages of working in them for an hour or two (although you could probably order more than one coffee if you plan to stay for a while).
It is not uncommon to see small business owners meeting with clients at coffee shop tables. But I would argue that your business will struggle to grow and scale, if café hot desking is part of your long term plan.
However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a coworking space, you can most definitely be productive in cafes or coffee shops. It creates a great change of scene if you normally work in a home office or similar.
Coworking space vs Serviced Office/Virtual office
Renting a serviced office and a coworking space have some striking similarities. A serviced office provides you with access to many of the resources you need to run a business including a reception area, dedicated desk space and meeting rooms. And you are likely to meet a fellow business owner or two in common areas like the kitchen, the bathroom or the lift (so have your elevator pitch ready).
But a serviced office doesn’t lend itself well to collaboration and building a sense of shared purpose and energy. And, generally speaking, serviced office space is more expensive to rent than a coworking space.
Coworking space vs Business incubators
Business incubators are facilities that nurture start-up businesses, providing them affordable space, technical assistance, mentoring, and shared equipment or services to help them succeed.
Businesses are expected to spend a limited time – typically three to five years – in the facility before “graduating” to conventional space. Many business incubators house venture capital teams.
You will even find blue chip corporate teams, in business incubators from time to time. These teams come into the incubation space to learn from the innovative minds they can access in this incubator environment. Now that’s clever.
A program of business support services addressing four core issues of competency (business planning and capabilities), capital (resources and funding), connectivity (networking and access to markets) and advice (legal, financial, marketing and management) can be instrumental in start up success.
In a business incubation environment, acceleration services are oriented to existing businesses that work within the incubator. Based on input from small business assistance providers, programming may focus on enhancing market opportunities, assisting in product development, and management issues such as human resources or accounting.
Many coworking spaces are starting to incorporate incubation opportunities into their offerings. But it is not yet common place. In this sense, it is hard to compare the two offerings except to say that, assuming the cost structure is similar, finding a coworking space that includes an incubator offering presents an enormously powerful opportunity to accelerate your business growth.
Coworking space vs Virtual business incubators
Consider the business incubator concept above but in the form of a “virtual incubator” set up. That means those business support services are offered to you…virtually.
With a virtual business incubation set up, you are joining business incubator communities that provide many of the same mentoring and technical assistance services to businesses as outlined in the section above, but without a dedicated space in which businesses are physically housed.
Business acceleration offers technical support and services to businesses to speed up their growth during critical phases. As referenced in the section above, accelerators typically focus on established businesses that may be developing new products or exploring new markets.
Now you could consider working in a coworking space and accessing the services of a virtual business incubator. But I would suggest seriously considering coworking space that has a business incubator physically incorporated in its set up if you are serious about taking a quantum leap in your business growth.
Coworking space vs Traditional office
A traditional office has all the features that you will find in a coworking space. But you will be footing the bill for all of your fit out, staff and amenities. The main economic benefit of working out of a coworking space is that you are essentially sharing the cost of physical infrastructure and shared resources with other coworkers who use the space.
Whilst, traditional office space gives you complete control over the furniture, layout, equipment and reception staff, the cost differential to using coworking space is significant. This might come at the cost of a premium location, resources (meeting rooms, technology etc), but for some, coworking space is not aligned with their brand or business strategy.
Coworking space vs Home
Over 50% of talented individuals that move into coworking space come from working at home.
Many businesses are started from home offices. And there are many benefits of working from home. These include:
- Working from home is free. Using a coworking space can be costly
- Travel time is 0 hours per day
- Your work will remain confidential. No one will over hear your work conversations, see any of your marketing material or your website as you build it.
- Your washing will get done!
The downfalls of working from home:
- No human contact – you can spend a full day at home working and not speak to or see anyone
- Often you will have limited access to all the facilities your growing business needs (photocopier, meeting rooms, podcast studios etc)
- You need to source appropriate cafés, hotel or other community based meeting rooms and spaces to meet with clients
- You are limited to other virtual communication modes including technology such as Skype and Facetime – this may not create the professional first impression you are looking to make with new clients
- You miss out on face to face networking opportunities (although you can obviously connect with others digitally)
Consider the middle ground
Assuming that neither working full time from home or a coworking space sounds appealing to you, perhaps you can consider the middle ground.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, some coworking spaces allow you to take up part time memberships. That means you may well be able to have the best of both worlds. Some time working from home. And some time working out of a coworking office.
Micro-enterprises are businesses with five or fewer employees. These businesses made up 24.5 million of the 27.8 million businesses in the United States in 2007.
Explore the idea of coworking space applications or coworking management platforms that help you navigate the coworking space you are in.
A successful early leader in the coworking space movement
Many cities around the world are embracing the current coworking space trend. One of the largest multinationals is WeWork which commenced business in 2010. I first noticed their work spaces on various corners of New York city, when visiting in 2018.
I was instantly intrigued. You see, I have an absolute passion for embracing shared resources, making authentic connections with others and collaborating to make great things happen. I wanted to learn more.
Here is what WeWork list as their “story”:
“When we started WeWork in 2010, we wanted to build more than beautiful, shared office spaces. We wanted to build a community. A place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’. A place where we’re redefining success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line. Community is our catalyst.
WeWork were most certainly onto something. And entrepreneur, solopreneurs, mums, dads, start ups and small companies have voted with their feet – they are IN.
The concept of coworking space has been on a steep incline since 2010 and it doesn’t look as though that trend will abate any time soon.
By 2030, the flexible workspace market is expected to represent 30% of U.S. office stockAllwork.space
The typical profile of people who choose to work within a coworking community
- Individuals considering a business (potential entrepreneurs)
- Those in the process of starting a business (emerging entrepreneurs)
- Sole proprietors including mumprenuers and;
- Stage 1 businesses (with a small number of employees)
Typical coworking space facilities
Coworking companies are madly trying to differentiate themselves from one another. Some coworking spaces are opening as stand alone communities (one off buildings). Other companies are opening multiple spaces across countries and cities. WeWorks is one of the largest examples of this type of company.
Typically coworking companies offer a range of resources that you are unlikely to be able to replicate in your home office.
Facilities and services you can typically expect include:
- A reception function and mail delivery
- Services such as book keeping, administrative support, IT solutions, legal services and business branding and design services
- Commercial sized printers
- Access to photography equipment
- Podcast recording studios (including microphones in sound proof rooms)
- Meeting rooms and boardrooms you can hire (now that’s bound to create a better impression with your clients than a coffee shop!)
- Fresh fruit, coffee and kitchen facilities
- Office supplies
- Wellness facilities such as gyms and yoga/mediation classes
- Communal quiet and break out areas
- Onsite cafés
- Outdoor spaces for working, socialising or resting
- Networking sessions
These added extras are often also included:
- Opportunities to present on a topic to other coworking community members
- Mentoring and coaching offerings
- Access to blue chip clients, venture capitalists and seed funding providers
- Like minded, driven people around you – they say that you are only as good as the 5 people you spend time with
- Conversations that can lead to break throughs in your approach (if you listen actively and remain curious and open to new ideas from others)
- Members Incentive Programs
- Accomodation (this is a new service starting to pop up – imagine, you might never go home again…just kidding. You really should!)
- Access to national or international contact networks
Coworking spaces allow you to chat with other people who are also at an exciting, but somewhat daunting, phase in their company’s development. Humans are social beings. Coworking spaces create space for you to connect with others. To share ideas. To challenge your own assumptions. To be inspired.
It is hard to replicate a vibrant community in your home office (or on your couch!)
Key considerations when choosing a coworking space
There are some important things to consider before choosing a coworking space.
You may well have started a business to get away from the feeling of being a rat on a wheel. You know the feeling. That long commute, hectic traffic and unexpected delays!
Given this is the case, try to choose a local coworking space or one that you can easily access by public transport (you can skip peak hour traffic given you don’t need to work traditional “office hours” if you don’t want to).
As I mentioned earlier it is highly likely that if you are just starting out, the cost to become a member of a coworking community may seem a little expensive. Here is an idea to challenge that thinking though – assuming you connect with other people who can use your services, the cost is likely to be offset by one paid work opportunity each month.
Your usage needs
Sometimes you are looking for collaborative space across a few days a week rather than Monday to Friday. If you are self disciplined you may be able to work effectively at home but you are missing a little buzz in your working week. In this instance you might only want to work in coworking space a day or two a week.
For others, finding motivation to work at home is a major challenge. A full membership is probably best for you.
Don’t get carried away with all the bells and whistles in coworking spaces if you are not going to use them. In fact, before you tour coworking spaces, note down the essential facilities you are after. Then anything else you see is a bonus. And having a MUST HAVE list means you can compare coworking spaces more easily.
This should include the resources you will be looking to use. Perhaps you have an artistic background and need artistic materials of some type. Maybe you need access to high quality printing equipment or a podcasting studio. Or meeting rooms large enough to hold clients your like to host from time to time.
Convenience for clients
If your business requires you to meet with clients, choosing a location that works for your clients is really important. If you run a digital business and really only interact with your clients or customers online, this is not a major consideration.
But if your business services clients who are typically in a central business district within your city, your coworking space should be there too. Consider what first impression the coworking spacing makes. You don’t want clients having to come down a dark alley way to find you! First impressions count.
Horses for courses
Most coworking spaces have a variery of office space layouts. Some open plan desks (including standing desks), small meeting rooms, large meeting rooms, stand alone offices and break out areas.
When you tour a coworking space, have a think about whether décor and the overall space set up aligns with your brand identity and the way you would like to work.
Not only do coworking spaces provide commercial quality professional services and facilities, but many also include a range of “extras”. These include but at not limited to:
- Dark rest spaces
- Yoga, pilates and meditation classes
- Fully equipped kitchens and cafes
- Spa quality showers and change rooms
- Themed lunch and dinner days
Now, if you are planning to use these facilities, some of your cost is actually off set against your wellness costs (given you won’t have to source and pay for those facilities externally). Although as a side note, check carefully what is included in your monthly cost and what is not. Some services are offered at an additional charge.
Remember, having a range of “extra” facilities RIGHT WHERE YOU WORK might mean you actually use them. Starting a business is hard work. And you tend to work long hours. However, it is scientifically proven that taking a break from your work makes you more productive.
One thing you may not realise is that some coworking
spaces have different membership options. The package variables tend to be:
- Open versus private office space
- Dedicated desk space versus hot desking
- Position of a desk (I’ve toured coworking spaces where you pay more for a desk that offers more natural light)
- Casual, full time membership or day pass memberships
As a bonus, look for coworking space that offers multiple sites across your city. Many memberships include working out of any locations that company offers. This is also great for accessing clients at different ends of town.
Quick tip: Weigh up what sort of membership you need. Is open space OK for the business you run. Do you also need room for a team? Where will you conduct client meetings and is it OK for those meetings to take place in a public area of will you need to book a room instead?
These are all considerations you should think about before touring coworking spaces so you can determine which facilities meet your business needs best.
Observations from touring coworking spaces
Having toured and trialled working out of a range of coworking spaces I have made the following observations:
Each coworking space has an energy that is hard to replicate at home or in a café or a library. Perhaps there is something about the shared goal of progressing something. It feels like optimism, hope and innovation, all mixed into one.
When you work from a café or the local library you can’t sense that shared ambition. Not everyone is there for the same reason. In a coworking space they are.
Those leading tours with me, all commented that it is exciting to see businesses grow from infancy through to a team. Businesses that start as one person at a single desk, often build into a team of people who now take larger dedicated space within the coworking space.
Why some coworking spaces don’t work
With the rising popularity of coworking spaces, you would think that all coworking spaces are thriving right? Wrong. Alongside coworking space goliaths like WeWorks, you will notice some coworking spaces come and go.
Here are some key reasons that coworking spaces just don’t work:
Some are just too far away from public transport and easy parking options. Or tucked away in side streets and alley ways you just cannot imagine your clients walking down!
Layout and infrastructure
Having an open plan working environment is great but not if the desks feel as though they are on top of one another. Some coworking spaces are simply too small to scale well with lots of different businesses working from them.
Others haven’t scaled up with quality equipment or office fit out. Thin walls in office spaces and lack of privacy in phone booths really defeat the purpose of creating a multi use office space.
“I love getting bailed up in the kitchen by people trying to shove their products and services down my throat”, said no one ever.
Coworking spaces rely on a certain level of professional courtesy and respect. When left unmonitored, some business owners “go rogue” and ruin it for the whole community.
Overpromise and under deliver
When you tour a coworking space, your tour guide may talk with you about all the extra support the facility offers. Networking evenings, guest speaking events and office administration supplies and services might top your list for sensational extras.
But when you join, the networking events are actually held once every 6 months with a packet of chips on a table and the guest speakers uninspiring. With so much competition in the market, these coworking spaces won’t last.
Lack of maintenance
Poor quality fit outs start to show really quickly. Quality coworking companies will maintain equipment and furniture. They will ensure a level of professionalism when it comes to office cleanliness, with strict rules in place for all members. Others do not.
You will quickly realise if the coworking space has too many members. If booking meeting rooms, finding a sound proof telephone booth or hot desk seat is difficult, members will quickly become disgruntled and the whole coworking eco-system falls apart.
Tips for talented professionals when considering coworking space
So you think that working out of a coworking space might be for you? Here are some key considerations to help you find the perfect place:
- Create a list before you visit a working space of your MUST HAVE requirements
- Set aside a day to tour a few coworking spaces at once. This makes it easier to compare each and their offers. The tours I have taken have run for around 20-30 minutes.
- Definitely tour more than one coworking space – they all have a slightly different feel and offerings. They also tend to house people with different specialities. Try to find “your people”. For example, if you are an artistic or creative type, it’s great to work with other artistic types. Similarly if you are a tech start up, it can be hugely rewarding to work amongst other tech start ups given you share similar challanges
- If you don’t need space full time, then make sure you only tour places with casual or “X days per month” offers. Some ONLY offer full time memberships
- Some companies offer free trials. You can sit and work in the coworking space for a day. This will give you a much better sense for what it feels like to work in that space
- Have a look at the coworking space websites. They often list member companies which gives you a great sense for the business community profile working from that specific space
- Get to know the people that run the coworking space. Their word of mouth connects one business with another
- Think about whether you have some very specific requirements. For example, maybe you want to be very close to your child’s day care centre or you want to take your pet to work. Shortlist coworking spaces to tour accordingly
Coworking space FAQs
The key to working harmoniously in a coworking environment is to be considerate of others. The same norms apply to this working space as they do when you are working within any other workplace as a permanent member of staff.
Common courtesy and good manners go a long way to creating a comfortable working environment for everyone.
Here are some of the common questions people ask about coworking space.
Won’t people talk to me all day long?
One of the biggest benefits of coworking is making meaningful connections with other coworkers. Connections are valuable. Take the time to build your relationships with friendliness but also professionalism.
It is really important to respect the boundaries of others. This relates to both their physical space (their workstation) and their personal space. Discrimatory or harassing behaviour towards others in a coworking space is obviously not tolerated (I assume this would go without saying, but in the interest of completeness, I have included this point).
If you see someone with headphones on or who seems to be immersed in work at their desk, don’t disturb them. Give yourself a couple of days to just observe the norms on this front within the coworking space.
What if I need to take a phone call?
It is poor etiquette to take a call in a public area of a coworking space. Many co work space now offer phone booths, which are fully sound proofed. What an awesome invention!
Will other entrepreneurs steal my business idea?
If you are working for clients, make sure any of the sensitive information they have provided to you is secure either on your desk, in a draw or in your bag. Looking at any confidential information other coworkers have left around is also a no no and completely unethical.
Can I ask to use items on the desk of the co-worker next to me?
Really? One would hope you’d come prepared but if you do borrow something, make sure you return it promptly after use. And ask for…of course!
Can I eat at my desk?
Given most coworking spaces now include cafes or kitchens, you may be best to move to those areas to eat. Each coworking company is likely to have different rules and norms on this front, so ask if they are not explicitly stated.
Use your own intuition when deciding whether eating a strong smelling food at your desk is a good idea. Be courteous of those around you.
I don’t need working space Monday to Friday 9 – 5. Can I strike a different deal with coworking space companies?
Most coworking spaces are open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. These companies know that they need to cater to all working styles. And they also know that they need to offer flexibility in their packages.
That means you will find a range of packages on offer. From hot desk set ups to designated desks or private office space, there is likely to be a package that meets your needs.
Many coworking spaces offer part time memberships, monthly passes, annual membership options too. Some even offer day passes. The choices seem to be growing in line with member demand.
I am an introvert by nature – I am nervous about how to make connections with others
Coworking environments are very much outside the comfort zone for some. But your experience will most certainly be enhanced by getting involved. Whether that be a conversation with someone in the kitchen or attending events being hosted on site, you are likely to make meaningful connections with others.
A fear of the unknown needs to be tempered with curiosity and experimentation. By participating in conversations, events and informal “bump ins” around the office, you are very likely to identify new opportunities, connections and even people with shared value systems and beliefs or skills and experience.
An open attitude certainly keeps coworking spaces energised, vibrant spaces. Try to embrace that ethos and take some further steps outside your comfort zone to make the most of the coworking model.
Can’t I just book out meeting room space all of the time?
Most meeting room spaces offered within a coworking company work on a booking system. No, you can’t just jump into an empty room when you see one to take a call. You need to respect the booking system in place.
ALWAYS make sure you don’t stay longer than your allocated time. This will impact others working in the space. It doesn’t create good working space karma.
How does costing work for coworking space. Is this just one monthly rate? Are there different plans?
Each coworking company operates slightly differently. Refer to the specific plans for each company on their websites. And when you are uncertain or need more information get in contact with the customer service team to learn more.
What is the etiquette when talking with others in the coworking space?
When you have a conversation with someone in an open area of the coworking space, make sure you don’t use a loud voice. Remember that others are trying to work.
If you feel as though the noise level is getting a little out of control, consider moving to another collaborative space in the building.
Will people just start talking with me if I am working at my desk?
Not unless they are highly unprofessional. It can take some time to get used to working in a coworking environment, but you should notice that those around you are highly professional and will ask if you are free to talk etc.
One great way to block out the noise and potential interruptions is to pop some headphones in. In the majority of cases, people will recognise this means you don’t want to be disturbed.
My business targets a very conservative client base. Will I be creating the wrong impression?
Every coworking space is set up differently. So, it is really important to visit each space to get a sense for whether there is a fit between the layout and design and your specific client base.
Most spaces are set up in a highly professional way and offer exceptional reception and client greeting areas to optimise your client’s experience.
How do I know what is happening in the coworking space?
Many coworking companies offer an online portal, an app or other services to connect you to both the space and other members of the community. Take advantage of that technology.
By mastering the coworking application you can reach out to other members with similar interests and work experience, learn about events and become a more engaged member of the community.
What sorts of workers use coworking spaces?
All sorts of people use coworking spaces. These include but are not limited to:
- Start ups
- Solepreneurs/mumpreneurs that want to grow market share but not a business with more people in it.
- Product based businesses
- Small companies
- Independent consultants
- Tech founders
- Growth phase companies across a range of sectors
- Plus many, many more…
How does the cost of coworking space compare with renting your own serviced office space?
Coworking space has its limitations. Obviously if you are planning to build a business with the aim of hiring a large team fairly quickly, you will indeed outgrow coworking space in no time. When you tour each coworking space, ask how many people their maximum dedicated office space can hold.
The cost of renting a serviced office space can really sky rocket. Coworking space is a cheaper alternative when you are starting out.
You will certainly profile your brand more unique with your own space. You can control interactions more readily and start to build your unique culture more easily when you “own” your office space.
Checklist for comparing different coworking spaces
Useful questions to ask others working in a coworking space
If you get the change, it’s always useful to hear why others enjoy working in a particular coworking space. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
- What makes you passionate about working at (specific coworking space)?
- What provides you with the most value working here?
- Do you tend to head to the social catch ups – why or why not?
- I’d love to hear more about what you do (but not right now). Can we find a time that suits us both?
- Has your business grown since you have been here? How? Would you attribute that to working here? Why do you say that?
- Do you tend to head to the talks? What makes a good talk in your opinion?
- Have you brought clients here? What rooms have you used? What sort of impression do you think this has left your client with?
- What membership option are you using? How does it work for you?
- What other passions are you pursuing in between progressing your business?
As you may well know, the internet is also a great source for reviews of specific coworking spaces. So once you have a better feel for the coworking spaces that might work for you, Google the coworking company location to see what people are saying about it.
Draw a line in the sand and measure your results
I’m a stickler for measuring results. Call me crazy, but you want to make sure that your new way of working is meeting your objectives. On the assumption that you are looking to build your business, be more productive, create meaningful business relationships and drive an optimised income stream, I recommend you measure the following:
- Track your hours
- Track your output
- Adjust to taste – more functions, less functions
- Keep a track of new contacts – have any revenue or opportunities come from these connections
- Measure your income increase
- Measure how clients respond to meeting with you in a shared coworking space v coffee shop
And from a qualitative point of view, note down how the working space makes you feel? Are you more energised, positive or inspired to achieve results when working from the coworking space?
Let’s assume that you measure your results and see that there is no improvement in your results, output or motivation. This is where the membership terms of the coworking company are very important to understand.
Before you sign up, look to see how much notice you need to give to the coworking company if you decide it is not for you.
Want to learn more about coworking spaces and see some in the flesh? Check out my easy to follow checklist to take along with you when you tour.
Get in touch and request my Coworking Space Checklist.