Tired of working from home? Can’t find outlets at the coffee shop or a good place for client meetings? Maybe you have a lot of office space that’s going unused right now. If any of these sound familiar, you should consider joining a coworking and shared office space.
Coworking spaces are on the rise, and it seems like there is a new one opening every couple of months in a different neighborhood in every major city. With all of the spaces out there, how do you know which one is right for you? Not all spaces are created equal, and here are some things to consider when choosing the best coworking space for you and your business.
Where is the coworking space located? Is it near public transportation, or are parking options available? Research shows that people with shorter commute times are much happier. Also, is it in a location that your clients can get to easily? How close are gyms, coffee shops, good lunch spots for your coworkers? You should choose a coworking space that benefit your business, but also is good for your employees.
One of the big advantages is to coworking is the low capital commitment upfront. Many spaces offer month-month terms, or short-term leases so businesses can save money and keep overhead low. That being said, you should definitely find out what’s included in your monthly rent. Do offices come furnished, or do you need to invest in tables, desks, and chairs? How much conference room time and printing is allocated, and what, if any, charges are there for exceeding your limit? If you join a coworking company with multiple locations in the same city, or even in multiple cities, see if you get access to use facilities and conference rooms in the other locations.
Be sure to check out the amenities as well. A lot of coworking spaces offer amazing amenities, including free fast WiFi, coffee, beer, wine, purified water, etc. Others come with free gym use or access to a gym in the building for a nominal fee. Arcade rooms, relaxations rooms, and wellness room are popping up in higher end, design-focused coworking spaces, which can be a great perk, but also come at an added cost. Some coworking companies also offer discounts and deals with a variety of business partners that could benefit your business, from customer support providers and CRM tools to hotels.
Finally, look into fees and flexibility. How long are the lease terms? Also, find out what are the fees for joining? If your small business or startup is growing, can you get additional space or even downgrade, if necessary, without incurring an additional cost?
Every coworking space has its own energy and culture, and you can usually get a sense of that within the first 5 minutes of touring the space. Many coworking spaces host meetups, happy hours, events and professional development workshops to foster a sense of community and facilitate networking opportunities. This is one of the main selling points of joining a coworking community, so members can grow their networks and meet people who can help them solve problems or find new customers, mentors, investors, and employees.
Some coworking spaces emphasize the community aspect of coworking more than others, and this can be a benefit and a detriment. If you’re not as outgoing or interested in a networking/party atmosphere, a quieter space where people can still meet at the coffee bar may be a better fit.
Any coworking space you join will have noise from people mingling at an event or the coffee bar, making calls, engaging in conversation. Noise becomes an issue when it starts distracting you from getting your work done. After all, you’re still trying to build a business. This is where a space’s design plays a huge factor in in promoting privacy and productivity. When you’re on your tour, see if private offices have four sides of glass, where you can clearly see your neighbors. It could get awkward really fast if you’re staring at your neighbors during a conference call or meeting. Well-designed spaces only have one side of frosted glass to maintain privacy and reduce noise levels. Floor-to-ceiling walls also help insulate noise, so you won’t hear your neighbors talking about last night’s television shows or sports. Also, if you need to be on the phone a lot in a shared office environment, see if the coworking space has private call booths to help minimize distractions so you can get serious work done. In the end, you should be looking for a healthy balance of “me” and “we,” where the space facilitates networking while maximizing productivity.
It can be a daunting decision to choose where to locate your small business or venture. Luckily, almost all coworking and shared office spaces offer free trials, where potential members can utilize the space for at least a day and see whether or not it would be a good fit. Be sure to take advantage of this, and and make sure the coworking and share office space you’re joining is right for you and your business.