Whether you are a freelancer looking to move out of your home office, a budding start up team looking to step up operations, or a company looking for alternative serviced office options: coworking spaces could be for you.
Globally, shared workspaces have grown at a rate of 200% over the past five years, converting coworking from a trend into an established part of the office space market.
Most professionals operating as freelancers and entrepreneurs opt to work out of shared facilities for a multitude of reasons: cheaper rent, better amenities, shorter lock-in periods and visually appealing interiors are a few of them.
So if you are looking to move into one, what do you look for?
And most importantly, is it really for you?
Before we dive into what to look for, let’s take a look at what coworking means, and what advantages it brings to the table
Coworking essentially refers to a facility where a common floor of workstations and cubicles are rented out in short or long term contracts to tenants, usually given out on monthly plans.
These packages are inclusive of the space you rent out, as well as the amenities that the facility has to offer such as power backup, IT and maintenance support, front office services, network connection etc., meaning you would not be spending to set your office; merely plug in to an organised set-up to begin your work. The mass expenditure and lengthy wait time with traditional offices is completely eliminated with the emergence of the coworking concept.
The availability of such cost- effective and simplified alternatives presents freelancers, solopreneurs and modestly-budgeted SMEs a highly-welcomed advantage to launch and build their operations, not to mention the creative and open work environment catalysing networking and collaboration with fellow co-workers.
Keeping this in mind, we have listed out 9 fundamental factors that will help you identify the work space for your venture.
The first step would be to see what you are expecting out of your office space.
Identify and break down your company’s daily operations, and evaluate whether moving into a coworking setup is really contributing to the overall improvement of your work.
Would it help you save time?
Will you be able to work longer and churn out more productive hours?
Will a professional setup help in achieving- and retaining- prospective clients?
Coworking is not one-size-fits-all.
List out your needs and expectations from your workspace, and you will have a clearer picture.
A coworking space would usually offer three types of desks in their facilities: A flexible / hot desk, a fixed desk and a cabin space.
A hot desk refers to any available workstation in the facility that can be plugged into and worked in.
A fixed desk would be a reserved desk that has been allotted to you as per a schedule.
A cabin space would be your typical office suite, which is accessible by only you and your team.
A flexible desk would cost the least among them, and makes a smart option for freelancers, but it would mean packing up your desk at the end of every day, and that may prove counterproductive and cumbersome to a few.
Here the fixed desk emerges as an optimal option, as it would be your own dedicated desk customized to your creature comforts and work needs.
If your work involves extensively interacting with clientele, or storing and handling confidential information, then a slightly expensive option in cabin spaces would be more suitable.
The geographical location of your office is quite an important factor that requires a lot of forethought and priority.
An ideally connected office space would need to have a good transport network, providing accessibility for the employees as well as your client base.
Moreover, your office space would need to have amenities like restaurants, medical facilities, entertainment options etc. in close proximity to further make it a location that can give your brand and operations a more premium outlook.
A location in premium regions of your city would cost higher, but guarantees better brand outlook and connectivity. Striking a right balance in terms of location and budget cannot be stressed enough.
Any expenditure to setting up your office space would be another crucial factor to prioritise.
How much are you willing to spend for your base of operations?
An advantage of taking up coworking spaces in such cases is cost effectiveness.
A traditional office space with the same amenities as a coworking outfit will almost always be more expensive to acquire.
Hence, shared offices can save you money in establishment costs, money that can be directed towards generating more business.
Facilities like maintenance, IT support, power backup, air conditioning, furnishings etc. are already available and this saves a huge portion of your budget and time during setup.
The decision of choosing the amenities and facilities is greatly dependent on the kind of operations you run. There are a few basic amenities that serviced and coworking spaces provide as part of the package:
Additional creature comforts like brewed coffee, nap zones, breakout events, and access to desks in multiple locations would be on offer at higher premiums.
When looking out for coworking spaces, it is important to understand how flexible the place is in terms of timings and future expansions.
Your workspace should be available to use during your work timings and during the off-days that you choose to work on.
Multiple facilities keep their workspaces open for use round the clock, but cease operating certain facilities such as front desk services and cafeteria after normal work hours.
Another aspect where flexibility takes priority is workspace modification. A coworking space should accommodate your space expansion and downsizing with minimal time wastage.
The virtue of working in coworking spaces is that you get to view other entrepreneurs and venturers developing their own businesses.
This is an excellent networking opportunity to learn, grow and even develop new client relations – all very important for freelancers and solopreneurs.
So a brief research into the individuals and companies that occupy a coworking community would do a lot of good, especially if you are looking to establish relations with your coworking neighbour.
Currently there are a lot of innovative, well-planned workspaces in the market, and more are popping up every day.
All these spaces would have their own creative design and unique environment within them.
Ensure your working space has the right layout and design to maintain a professional setup while developing a space that keeps your team engaged and encourages productivity.
Identifying a coworking space that suits you and your operations right is definitely a daunting task, but a rewarding one: studies have shown employees were 74% more productive in such work environment, as opposed to workers in traditional setups.
A trial period is a good way to get a feel of the space before you make a commitment and a lot of the coworking setups do encourage this by providing a general one week trial.
This time can be utilized to really immerse yourself into the shared space culture and to identify the changes you would like to make to your space after acquiring it.
Coworking has come a long way since its inception in 2005, evolving from being just an experimental concept to claiming its place as a mainstay in the office space market.
And as an increasing number of shared workspaces pop up across the globe, choosing the next destination for your business’s operation becomes an ever-important factor in its long term development and profitability.
Using the above factors to evaluate your coworking options will surely help you make a clearer decision on your business’s next destination, while gearing you up to understand what to expect at your new workspace.
Author: Arpan Naik, Novel Office, Bangalore, India
Novel Office offers serviced office spaces in Bangalore, India and Texas in the US. We specialize in customizable serviced offices and coworking spaces with flexible terms.