Coworking spaces have really taken off across the world. According to Deskmag, a magazine focused on the future of coworking, there will be 10,000 coworking spaces by the end of 2016.
It’s quite easy to see the appeal of coworking spaces. It’s made for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small (micro) businesses that don’t want to commit to a long leasing agreement.
This could be because they do not have the financial capabilities for such an undertaking. But more often than not, they’re not sure what the future holds: if they will still be in business by the time their lease expires, or if the space by then would be too small.
Coworking spaces offer many great benefits, but the most important are:
- They allow entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses the opportunity to quickly find a place based on financial capabilities
- They help ease the worry of signing a lengthy contract in order to lease office space by providing daily, monthly, or yearly pricing plans
- The entrepreneurs can save money and minimize costs without sacrificing comfort in their work space
- They will have opportunities to collaborate and be involved in the energetic entrepreneur and startup scene
These benefits are quite unparalleled for the price and ease of access of coworking spaces.
But before you go and run to your nearest coworking space, there are some very important considerations you’ll need to make first no matter where you are located. Let’s take a look at the four things you’ll need to consider before you choose your coworking space.
#1 Can you try it before you buy it?
Many coworking spaces offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to check out the coworking space before they put money down. It might be possible to check out the space for a day or even a week so that you can get the feel of the place and decide if it’s the right fit.
If the space you’re looking at doesn’t offer a free trial version, you should still go and visit it to make sure it feels right.
This will allow you to not only see if it is a physically comfortable place for you to work in, but also to decide if psychologically you’ll be able to get your work done there and accelerate your business.
#2 What are the benefits and restrictions?
While you’re there, go ahead and find out what the benefits are. Benefits include:
- use of equipment that you will need in your work (printer, scanner, 3D printing)
- coffee, tea and snacks
- white boards and conference rooms
- a mailing address
- local discounts
- gym, yoga and other amenities
But don’t just be swayed by the perks of the coworking space. You should also be aware of some of the restrictions of the space.
Common restrictions and disadvantage can include:
- limits to bringing in clients
- limits to telephone abilities (though entrepreneurs often use their own mobile phones)
- lack of available meeting or conferencing space
- limits to kitchen use and copying/printing
- the ability to terminate an agreement for a variety of reasons
Although these restrictions and disadvantages are minor, it is important that entrepreneurs determine what they are for a given coworking space and see if it fits with their goals.
#3 What are the networking and growth opportunities?
Many coworking spaces offer entrepreneurs the ability to network with other like-minded individuals.
This can be as light as collaborating with other entrepreneurs in the same space and industry, or across different but converging industries.
It could also be as involved as member-only events created by the coworking organization to improve the social and professional development of the entrepreneurs.
Coworking spaces may also offer education opportunities, such as such as training in specific programs or equipment, professional development lectures and courses, and conferences and meetings with top entrepreneurs in the field.
These networking and growth opportunities are geared towards helping entrepreneurs gain ground on their business and industry and grow collectively.
#4 What are the hours and level of security?
The type of security and working hours the coworking space has is a very important and practical consideration to make.
Many people who come to coworking spaces have moved beyond their coffee shop phase for a few reasons, one of which is the inability to work their during the late hours. In coworking spaces, there are often many entrepreneurs burning the midnight oil. It’s also great for small business teams with a few members that are more night owls and others that like to work in the early morning.
You should find out if the coworking space is open 24/7, on bank holidays and weekends, and what the times are.
You should also check the security (which is why you should check out the space before you commit to it). It’s important, especially if you’re working late at night, if the place is staffed at night or on the weekends. Are there security guards? Would you feel safe leaving your computer and going to the bathroom? Are there cameras or locks on the cabinets and drawers?
Depending on your location and working hours, these could be very important questions.
These are only a few of the many considerations you should make when deciding on which coworking space to choose. However, these are the most important considerations you should make, and you should not sign an agreement or agree to put down money without discussing these four first.
Good luck on your entrepreneurial journey!