Co-working spaces are the modern-day equivalent to the traditional office, being set to occupy 7% of real estate in London in 2019, with its success lying in its variety.
Co-working is as ideal for a start-up looking for an office, as it is a freelancer looking for a workspace. It's flexible, facilitated and the poster boy of modern-day working. After all, it's supplying an already existent demand: with office-based flexible working on the increase, and the self-employed on track to take over the public sector for the very first time.
What was once a novel supplement to the traditional office, is now a full-blown credible alternative, encapsulated in a global market estimated at over 21 billion pounds. Offices, teams and freelancers co-working in a space conducive to maximum productivity and collaboration eliminate many of the downfalls of the 9 to 5 one-office-one-team model. So when it comes to choosing a space, what factors are most crucial to its suitability? Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a co-working space.
1. Membership Types & Costs
The core membership types are:
Virtual membership: Some spaces do a virtual membership which gives you access to the wider co-working community and events. Perfect for very early stage start-ups.
Hot desk: Hot desks are part of the shared workspace and allow you to sit anywhere without having to plan ahead. A popular option among freelancers, part-timers or people needing somewhere to host casual client meetings.
Fixed desk: A dedicated, permanent desk that’s available to you 7 days a week. Choose a single space for yourself or several desks for your team.
Private office space: A dedicated private space for your team, which depending on size and co-working space, can house from 2 to 250 or more people. Private office spaces don’t incur the charges needed by traditional offices for supplying reliable internet, printers, furniture and cleaning, which can rack up to a hefty cost, or hefty saving, if you opt for co-working spaces.
Co-working spaces don’t just give flexibility within the space, but flexibility between several spaces, depending on your needs.
Fixed location: The rare opportunity to dictate where you work and the commute time and transport links involved, is a great way to be your own boss and free up time where's needed. Shortlist spaces within half an hour's commute away first.
Various locations: If you need to access multiple spaces around London, make sure you compare the set of locations among the other co-working spaces, as they differ wildly.
3. Sector Specific Spaces & Ways Of Working
Some co-working environments are geared towards different expertise and ways of working.
With potential work relationships at stake, it’s important – whether you’re looking to network now or not – to know what expertise the space is geared towards. Co-working spaces by nature were designed to allow entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation to interact and flourish; by putting in place certain design considerations and ways of working.
People who work in these spaces work for a diverse melting pot of clients from up and across the food chain, but within these ecosystems, the co-working ethos tends to attract the creative and technology industries. Some spaces are equipped with more studios and worktables for more hands-on work, while others have more desk spaces.
Different fields of expertise also attract different workers with different requirements, so it’s important to be aware of the general majority of expertise so you can gage the networking potential. Although a co-working space doesn’t have to involve collaboration, if you see them and the people in it as a networking event, it can help keep your options specific and targeted, and the opportunity for business relationships to form in the future open.
Ways of working
Different ways of working needed by yourself, a project, a team or sector, require different environments at different times, for example, large meeting spaces where interaction is key or quiet spaces where solitary thought and deep focus is key. Assessing what degree each co-working space has of these is integral.
4. Facilities & Discounts
Co-working spaces have realised that if a space is going to become the go-to for people to work and network, five days a week, outside of the traditional office, then it needs to offer a lifestyle where productivity is made easy with certain facilities in place.
Facilities differ but they often include a variety of: fast Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, soundproof phone booths, quiet public workspaces, networking events, bike storage, 24-hour opening, changing rooms, showers, gym or reduced membership fees, gym classes, outdoor space (if you’re lucky: a roof terrace), a café, discounted breakfast and lunch, and bar. Make sure to enquire about the full range of facilities to compare with other spaces.
5. Viewings & The Feel Of A Space
No amount of e-brochure browsing can truly translate the feel of a place, especially when considering that co-working spaces now combine office, café and members club culture (with a touch of home comfort) into one indivisible whole. Arrange a viewing with a co-working space and they’ll give you a tour and often allow you to stay and work for the rest of the day. A few viewings down the line, and it’ll become clear what facilities and atmosphere you can and can’t live without.
Co-working spaces are designed to equip the entrepreneurial minds of the future. Spaces are well crafted, vibrant and spacious. But with innovative pursuit, comes diverse thinking, and browsing the unique variations of each space is essential to securing an environment that’s conducive to your way of reaching maximum productivity.
If you’d like more help on finding a co-working space or directional advice for your start or scale-up, please get in touch.