In recent years, a growing number of freelancers and other remote workers have been discovering the value of coworking spaces – membership-based communities in which professionals from various industries do their jobs alongside one another in a shared area. But they aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit from such an arrangement. The right coworking space might be ideal for your small business.
To clear up any confusion, note that coworking spaces are not the same as business incubators. The latter are places dedicated to fostering the growth and development of the startups housed there. If you’re looking for assistance with business-related issues, incubators may be the better option.
While you’re “on your own” at coworking spaces, they offer a different set of benefits. Some of the reasons small businesses turn to them include:
Especially in major cities, finding affordable office space can be a challenge. Likewise, some small business owners feel queasy about signing a lease when they aren’t certain about the company’s revenues and long-term needs.
Paying membership dues at a coworking facility can be much more cost-effective. Most places have plans designed to fit different needs based on use and group size. You also may find that you get more for your money than you would if renting an office, such as access to a large conference room when needed. Likewise, tasks such as fixing copier jams and emptying trash are taken care of, freeing your staff to concentrate on other things.
Ability to grow
Dream of turning your business into something larger? You won’t need to look for additional accommodations as your staff expands. As new team members come aboard, rent additional work spaces at your coworking facility.
Want to improve the quality of applicants for open positions? Promoting flexible arrangements can help small businesses lure top talent. Workers appreciate options beyond standard 9 to 5 offices. Telecommuting may be your team’s norm, but a coworking space provides an outlet for occasional meetings, individuals coming together to work on a project, or even just a change of pace once a week.
Research has shown that workers thrive in coworking communities. Many feel positive about being part of a growing social movement that allows greater control over when and where work is being done. Others get a boost from being around a range of professionals doing their own thing without the complexities of office politics or direct competition.
Forward-thinking small business owners are always looking to expand their network, and coworking facilities are ripe with new connections. You and your employees are bound to chat with others using the space throughout the day, and lunchtime provides a natural opportunity to sit down and talk. Many coworking establishments further foster interaction by holding professional and social events for members.
Think a coworking space might be right for your small business? Here’s a list of things to think about when evaluating options:
- Hours – Some places are accessible 24/7, others are not. Be sure your needs are covered.
- Security – Especially if you are using the place at non-standard times, consider safety issues. Is there a security guard, video monitoring, or security cameras? Do you need a code or key to enter, or can anyone off the street walk in? On a day-to-day basis, what provisions are available to protect your items, such as a locked desk or a storage unit to hold your laptop when you go to lunch?
- Location – Is the facility convenient for you, your staff, and clients with whom you might frequently meet up? Are there restaurants and stores close by? Is there sufficient parking, or is public transportation available?
- Layout and amenities – Figure out if the establishment offers the type of rooms and equipment you’ll need — and if these things are included in your package or are considered an extra charge. Scrutinize what you’re getting for your money, and ask plenty of relevant questions. Is the bandwidth sufficient for your Internet usage? Do they have dedicated rooms for phone calls? Are standing desks an option? Can you receive mail and packages there? Do they have a water cooler, snacks, and coffee? What types of networking events do they host for members and how often? The “little things” add up and may make one location preferable to another.
- Flexibility – Do the payment plans of the facility fit your purpose? For instance, if you only want to use the space once a week, are you stuck buying more time than you need? Likewise, what options are available should you choose to work there more often or hire additional employees?
- Vibe – Just as workplaces have unique atmospheres, so do coworking spaces. Some are quieter, others more social. Providing privacy may be central to one and large meeting rooms touted at another. To get a true sense, take advantage of free trials offered by most coworking establishments. First-hand experience in actual environments will help you decide which coworking space would be best for your small business.