Have you ever thought about working in a coworking space? Do you feel that the traditional office model isn’t working for you? Do you think about work as something you achieve rather than where you go?
Coworking has arrived and any place that says its innovative will have coworking spaces. So, what are the advantages of coworking for start-ups?
What is coworking?
Coworking is simply different people from different companies working in the same space. Its a more relaxed way to provide workspace for businesses with more flexibility and no long-term commitment. You can book meeting rooms by the hour and some places also offer pay as-you-go or part-time memberships options. Many have a wide range of work spaces to suit most team needs including phone booths for private calls, quiet work spaces to get a report done, creative open plan spaces to encourage collaboration and shared kitchen areas for socialising and they may even organise regular training events and socials too.
Hugely popular, coworking spaces have increased over tenfold in the last 7 years. There are now 1.2 million people worldwide who are regular members of coworking spaces. Originally built for freelancers and contractors, nowadays, large global companies such as WeWork and Regus as well as small independents provide spaces all around the world.
Mobile technology and new work styles have been big drivers of this change – we now want more choice in where, when and how we work. Work can take place anywhere via laptops, tablets and phones – we are no longer tied to a single office or a standard working day. It means the traditional office model with workstations no longer makes sense, but teams continue to need somewhere to meet, exchange ideas and work together. Coworking provides a useful compromise.
Who uses coworking?
Basically, coworking is for like-minded people who want to have somewhere to meet and innovate. Starting a business can be a lonely place, so having a community around you can be inspiring and supportive. Coworking spaces are very diverse, catering not just for entrepreneurs and freelancers but also corporates and professional services who find it useful to reach new clients. The opportunity for all these groups to mix is what makes them special.
So why do start-ups love coworking?
- Coworking is cost efficient
Traditional offices require you to take out a costly lease ranging from 2-10 years and you also have to pay a deposit. Coworking is much more flexible and you can use most spaces with minimum commitment. Many places allow you to pay for part time usage which means you do not have to pay for desks that you do not use. It’s great for cashflow which is perfect for start-ups as you can avoid long term commitments until you understand how well your business is going.
- Coworking simplifies
The benefit of using a coworking space is fewer responsibilities. Most spaces provide an all-in-price which includes wifi, furniture, cleaning, utilities, and usually tea and coffee. This simplifies accounting as everything is on one invoice. As with all coworking, you can add team members as you grow (or shrink) so you can be as agile as your business needs. This flexibility makes it much easier to focus on your business rather than worrying about the day to day running of an office.
- Coworking offers a supportive community
If you are self-employed or starting a business, working from home at the start makes sense, but many miss the social interaction that comes with being in an office environment with other people. Some people may not have the space to work from home and even if you do, coworking helps to separate home and work which is valuable for those who need that balance. Most importantly, fans of coworking will praise the opportunity for positive collaboration and a sense of community that comes from being in a place with like-minded people. It’s a great place to meet other entrepreneurs and share your ideas.
- Coworking can help you to gain new business and useful contacts
Coworking spaces provide brilliant opportunities for networking. If you are a start-up, getting to meet potential investors, partners and suppliers is really useful. Coworking spaces are full of people from all different sorts of industries and sectors. If your business needs new website or a marketeer or an accountant, it’s handy if the person sitting next to you can help. If you creating a new service or app, coworking spaces are a great place to test out your ideas. And if your are looking for new customers, selling to your coworkers is an effective way to build your reputation or brand. With relaxed vibes and great décor, coworking spaces are attractive environments attracting talent.
What are the disadvantages?
For all its benefits, coworking will not suit everyone. It’s more expensive than being at home, you can’t work in your pyjamas, and if there isn’t one near your house, then you may still have to commute to get there. Busy coworking spaces can be noisy while quiet ones may lack ambience. They are clustered in big cities so there is less choice if you are more rural. And of course, depending on the business, you may need to have some level of privacy or confidentiality which might not be suitable in an open plan environment.
Is coworking right for me?
Coworking is great for energetic businesses that are growing or those wanting to take advantage of networking opportunities. For larger businesses with capital, they maybe better off with a lease agreement and managing their own reception, cleaning, IT and other contracts. With many larger coworking spaces now provide private offices as well as hotdesking, it is now easier to transition as your business grows. For newbies, dipping their toe into coworking, it may be more expensive than working at home, but for some, the new business opportunities make that cost worthwhile.
It is worth having a look around – coworking spaces can vary greatly. For start-ups and freelancers, the low cost and flexible nature of coworking makes it a no brainer. And of course, for some businesses being in a dynamic coworking space can be the catalyst that takes your business to the next level. That’s worth a try, right?