What should I take into consideration when choosing a coworking space? How to compare my options? These are two important questions, if you don’t want to end up in a place that doesn’t meet your needs!
If you ended up here, you are probably in search of the best spot to work from. You are in the right place if you’re looking for a clear and thorough guide. We’ll take a look at the 8 most important factors that you need to consider when choosing your spot!
We developed these eight key factors while working from coworking spaces around the globe, so you can use them no matter where you live or work from.
If you want to skip to the core of the factors to consider, jump the two first parts, and head directly to the 8 KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER.
INTRODUCTION & TRENDS
Whether you are a freelancer looking to move out of your home office, a newly launched startup 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 six years. According to Deskmag’s Global Coworking Survey, published in May 2019, more than two million people are working in coworking spaces. That number is four times as much as the in 2015, based on the Global Coworking Survey from four years before.
With more and more people looking to work from coworking spaces, the options are getting more diverse too!
Choosing to work out of shared facilities can be based on a multitude of reasons: cheaper rent, better amenities, short lock-in periods and visually appealing interiors are a few of them.
So if you are looking to move into a coworking space, what should you take into consideration?
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.
BENEFITS OF COWORKING SPACES
Basically, coworking refers to a location where a common floor of workstations are rented out in short or long term contracts to tenants, usually given out on monthly plans.
The contracts include not only the space you rent out, but also other amenities such as electricity, internet access, furniture for your workspace, and more. This means that you don’t need to setup your own office space, buy your furniture, contract an internet provider, or take case of the office’s general management; you simply plug in to an organised set-up to begin your work. The mass expenditure and lengthy wait time with traditional offices is simply eliminated in a coworking space.
Such a cost-effective and simplified alternative to traditional offices is great for freelancers, solopreneurs, and startups; or for anyone looking to launch and build their operations without being overburdened by additional tasks, not directly related with their own work.
This being said, we haven’t even gotten into additional benefits working from a coworking space has on your productivity and efficiency, well being, morale, or creativity – that is the subject of another article.
Now, with that being said, let’s dive into the 8 key factors to consider when choosing your coworking space.
KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER
Accessing the workspace
The location of any coworking space should most certainly be a key factor in your decision making process. It will determine the time you spend on transport any day or time of the day you want to get to your new office space, but it even goes beyond that.
If you do most of your work remotely your main focus should be on choosing a location that is easily accessible for you. This means a location that is not only close to your home, but a location you can commute to easily.
If you have to visit clients regularly, the location of your clients should also be a key factor. You probably would not want to spend hours in transit each day! So be sure to take that into account too!
What’s around the place
The location of a potential coworking space you would work from is not only about the time it takes to get there! It is also about what’s around!
Do you plan on taking your food with you or eating out? If you’d rather not spend time cooking, consider an office space that has restaurants or grocery stores close by! It’s hard to get work done on an empty stomach!
2. EASE OF COMMUTING
While closely related to the first point, the importance of the ease of commuting to your chosen workspace deserves a mention on its own.
Maybe the reason you left your job was because you were wasting too much time commuting to the office – I certainly know many people in that situation especially those living in large cities. Well the good news is that you can get rid of that frustrating part of your day, simply by taking this point into consideration!
An ideally located coworking space would need to have a good transport network, providing accessibility for you as well as your client base. Don’t forget to consider the traffic at your usual time of transit, and the possibility to get a parking spot (for your clients and yourself if you want to drive to the office).
A location in premium spots of your city can lead to a higher cost, but guarantees better connectivity. Striking a right balance in terms of location and budget cannot be stressed enough.
This is an absolute key factor in choosing a coworking space.
What is the right amount? Select the best alternative for your budget.
When starting up a new business, there are a lot of investments involved. You definitely want to keep your expenses to a bare minimum level. But even if you have an established clientele – and/or stable business – excessive spending on your office space most likely is not the best strategy (apart from some exceptions such as if you expect regular visits from clients you want to impress).
So, choose an appropriate coworking space that fits your budget. Don’t think about this as an upgrade or downgrade, but as getting the best for what you want to spend! Seeing your monthly rent become a liability is the last thing that you would want.
Coworking vs. traditional office space
A traditional office space with the same amenities as a coworking outfit will almost always be more expensive to setup and run. Shared offices can save you money in establishment costs, which you can then use to generate new business leads and income.
Facilities like maintenance, IT support, power backup, air conditioning, and furnishings are already available and this saves a huge portion of your budget and time during setup.
The coworking space should have all major amenities that one expects from his/her workplace.
Some coworking spaces may commit the moons and the stars, but do not actually ask members for their feedback. Fully equipped workspaces can come in a wide range of prices. Invest some time upfront to compare your options based on what you require to operate and feel comfortable.
Once you find the space that feels like a good fit, make sure its cost won’t disturb your finances.
We listed a few of the basics a coworking space should provide as a part of the package:
- Printer / Scanner
- Heating and A/C
- Power backup
Good luck on the hunt! Don’t be scared to take a day to schedule visits to the offices you consider, to check out the amenities and general feeling! You can usually get around quite a few spaces in a day (or half a day)!
5. YOUR SPOT
Each coworking space has its own creative design and unique environment. With more and more workspaces popping up every day, and the current coworking boom, spaces have increased their tendency to invest in design elements, events, and creative layouts.
However – please allow me some design terms in here – the design though out by a person does not necessarily yield the UX experience that was expected. Or in other words and to recap: make sure the your actual spot, the place you’ll actually be sitting at, is good for you.
Now what does good for you mean? That depends on what you look for of course! Do you want a more calm space where there is less interaction? Or a space where you can chat around during most of the day? Is the chair comfortable? Is the table big enough for all your stuff? Is it too crowded? Not crowded enough?
My point is: be sure to get what YOU want, don’t fall for the sugarcoating.
Identifying a coworking office space that suits you just right is definitely a daunting task but it is rewarding. Studies have shown employees were 74% more productive in such a work environment, as opposed to workers in traditional setups.
When looking for a coworking space, it is important to understand how flexible the place is in terms of timings and future expansions.
Flexibility: as in times of access
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.
Be sure to ask for information about special hours, and if the hours are based on the plan you choose – which unfortunately some spaces do.
Flexibility: as in modifying the contract
Another aspect where flexibility takes priority is workspace modification. A coworking space should accommodate your space expansion and downsizing with minimal time wastage.
“Rule of thumb suggestion” smaller coworking spaces are more accomodating, especially if the space is managed by the owner. Be sure to ask about that. We’ll get into more details in the last point!
Apart from the management team (which we’ll get into in the last part), 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 it.
This is often done through a free trial day, or a sort of “grace period” during which you can cancel the contract no questions asked.
7. THE TYPE OF SPACE
A coworking space usually offers three types of desks in their facilities: hot desks / fixed desks / cabin space.
About the hot desks
Hot desks work on a first come first served basis. With this “method” you can use any available workstation in the facility.
That being said, these are often oversold to make them profitable, so you could end up not having a spot to work from – or arguably worse a crappy spot to sit at and work from for the day.
About the fixed desks
Fixed desks are reserved desks that are allotted to you, meaning you are the only one to use them.
Again careful here – when comparing the prices – as some coworking spaces, rent out the fixed desks on based on an hourly schedule, so there could be a morning and an afternoon user on the same desk.
About the cabins
Cabin spaces would be your typical office suite, which is accessible by only you and your team.
This is basically an upgraded serviced office, in which you’ll be the only one or only ones working.
Among these options, the hot desk (also called flexible desk) will be the cheapest (if you compare the prices of amongst options within the same space). This could be a smart option for freelancers, but it would mean packing up your desk at the end of every day, which can prove counterproductive and cumbersome.
As a solution to avoid the extra tasks that come with a hot desk, there is the fixed desk option. This option means that you get your own dedicated desk customized to your creature comforts and work needs – though make sure to check out what we mentioned just above about the fixed desks.
And finally, or “last but not least” as some would want me to put it, if your work involves extensively interacting with clients, or storing and handling large amounts of confidential information, then a slightly expensive option in cabin spaces could reveal itself to be more suitable.
8. MANAGEMENT TEAM
And just like this, we got to the final point we highly recommend that you take into consideration before signing up for a coworking membership.
Before heading forward, I would like to add that there are other things to consider too of course. The importance of those – which come in a wide range – are relatively different for each future coworker though. In this post I tried to focus on what should be considered by everyone! (Also, we all know a great title can make or break an article, and having a set number of suggestions is just great for an article. So here we go!)
Try to look for smaller coworking spaces – or at least not international big brands. As always large corporations have a strict fixed set of rules and protocols to follow. This leads to an endless nightmare whenever you ask for anything that is not exactly as set in their Terms & Conditions. Relating this to our previous point on flexibility, this means that there is no wiggle room; it will be exactly as per the contract, that will be the end of it.
Smaller coworking spaces, while generally more “clumsy” in many ways, are much more comprehensive. This is especially true for spaces where the owner actually works from, or manages it directly. This gives you the possibility to approach the actual person in charge in case you need anything.
In such a small coworking office you can directly talk about it with the owner, and nobody cares about the business more than the owner.
Having some trouble with the Wi-Fi (or basically anything)? You can expect a quick fix!
Want to share some feedback? It will always be welcome.
You have some personal trouble and need to cancel your contract? You can expect an understanding response.
Now of course there are always outliers to what we mentioned in our last paragraph – both in the good and the bad – but we prefer to focus on the majority of positive cases. (And of course we base the positive outlook on our own coworking office and mentality – sorry for the self promo time!)
TO WRAP IT UP
In short, you’re going to need to prioritise what you need from your coworking space to get the best return on your investment. If you only read one bit of this article, let it be the following!
Keep these in mind when you choose and you’ll be safe!
Using the factors we mentioned to evaluate your coworking options will surely help you make a clearer decision while gearing you up to understand what to expect at your new workspace! But just to be on the safe side, let’s recap the 8 key points to consider when choosing a coworking space:
- EASE OF COMMUTING
- YOUR SPOT
- THE TYPE OF SPACE
- MANAGEMENT TEAM
Now how does The Other WorkSpace fare when assessing it based on these criteria? Until we write an article about that, feel free to reach out and ask us questions directly, on the phone, by email, or through our easy-peasy contact form!