What You Really Need to Know About Co-working Spaces

 

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY CARA BEST

You've started a business and it's expanding - now what? One of the most important things you'll need to do is find a place to work from. Your home office/couch can get the job done for a little while, but where do you turn when it's time to seriously upgrade your working location? More and more people are turning to co-working spaces (shared offices that are low on cost and high on amenities), but are they worth it? What elements separate the mediocre shared spaces from the ones that go above and beyond? Team BA is here to help you sort it all out!


Startups inspired the co-working movement and continue to be their core demographic, which means these initiatives are catering to small businesses! Because of this, there are a lot of advantages to shared spaces when you’re starting out, but there are also potential drawbacks to consider. We did the legwork and compiled them all for you here! (You're welcome.)


+ THE EXPENSES

        This may be the most compelling argument for shared working spaces. Real estate can get pricey and unless you have a large team it's unlikely that you'll need a massive space to yourself. Many co-working initiatives even offer different levels of membership from a pass that allows you to work out of the space a few times a month to spacious private offices. Multiple options mean a higher chance of finding the right fit for your business.

+ THE STAFF

        An office manager is essential to any operation, trust us! Having someone who is familiar with the space and its offerings is so crucial when taking your business to the next level. It also means that there's always someone there to accept deliveries, provide IT support, and answer any other questions you may have! Plus, depending on the space, the staff can assist you in making connections and building your brand or business up to its full potential.

+ THE AMENITIES

        Snacks that automatically refill themselves is everyone's dream, right? They won't refill themselves, but at a co-working office there will be someone (possibly the office manager!) in charge of keeping you well fed. Many shared spaces also offer complimentary wine and beer. Other perks include an industrial printer, shipping labels, boxes, a phone room to take private calls, touch up kits with hair spray, deodorant, a sewing kit, band aids and other essentials, and everything else to make your work space just as comfortable as home.

+ THE COMMUNITY

        It's easy to feel alone when you're building a business, especially if you're still the only employee. Co-working offices allow you to interact with others with the same types of goals. It's great to have a built-in community to bounce ideas off of and potentially collaborate with!

+THE events

        Events are one of the biggest draws of shared spaces. Co-working offices tend to have a mix of free and discounted events for members with amazing panels that you can't find anywhere else! Having these in your work space makes for infinite networking possibilities, plus you might learn something valuable that will aid in growing your business.

+THE ATMOSPHERE

        With so many different people coming in and out of the office it's important to find a group that you feel comfortable with. Engaging with others who share the space can be a great way to build up your network and boost your creativity, but too much socializing can distract you from running your business. While the more curated shared offices require an application and interview for each potential member, some employ the "sign up and you're in" method. Look for spaces that take the time to screen candidates to ensure you have the best blend of members possible.

+ THE HOURS

        If you're most productive at 2AM, co-working might not be for you. Many locations have set business hours when staff will be available. Usually these parameters are fine for most members, but if you tend to work at odd hours you might be better off finding an alternative.


WHAT TO ASK.jpg

If the pros outweigh the cons it's now time to consider your options for your new co-working home. More and more shared spaces are popping up every day and it can be overwhelming. Some shared offices even cater to specific industries (Brand Assembly has The Square in New York and Los Angeles for fashion professionals, for example) which can be beneficial for building up contacts in a particular field. The key to finding the perfect space for your business is asking questions. Here are the questions we think are the most vital when considering which co-working situation is the best fit for you.


+WHAT ARE THE "EXTRAS" THAT ARE INCLUDED IN THE RENT EXPENSE?

        Do you have a printing allowance? Free coffee on Tuesdays? A members' lunch once a month? Apart from your physical space, what are you getting out of a membership at this specific co-op?

+WHAT ARE THE BRAND/BUSINESS ALIGNMENTS?

        On the one hand, being in the same space as similar brands and companies can be a plus when it comes to networking. On the other hand, you don't want to set yourself up to have to fight for the same client base. Make sure you know who you're going to be working with before you sign on the dotted line.

+IS THE SPACE GEARED TOWARDS A SPECIFIC INDUSTRY AND CAN THE STAFF ASSIST IN BUILDING A NETWORK WITHIN THAT COMMUNITY?

       Shared offices that cater to a specific type of business can be incredibly helpful when you're starting out. The staff is in the know about industry goings on and you have a ready made community of people at different stages of growth at your disposal.

+WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS DO THEY HOST? ARE THEY ONSITE OR AT VARIOUS LOCATIONS? ARE THEY INCLUDED IN YOUR MEMBERSHIP OR AN ADDITIONAL FEE?

        Events in shared spaces are practically a given nowadays, but some co-working initiatives will charge you for the privilege. Make sure you know up front how much of the programming is complimentary.

Happy searching!