A Start-Up’s Guide to Co-working

co-working space - London

Co-working spaces have grown in popularity over the last few years, and it is no surprise that many companies are now exploring the option of moving their business into the hub of a buzzing co-working environment.

But what exactly is co-working, how does it differ from a typical office environment, and could it be a good choice for your business?

Typically, co-working allows entrepreneurial-spirited teams the freedom to work in a collaborative environment. Whereas, in a traditional office environment, most are employed by the same organisation, those in a co-working space work for various companies, spanning a variety of verticals and sizes.

Co-working spaces are available in many cities worldwide. In these ecosystems, workers are exposed to a range of new people, and can benefit from mingling, mentorships, and even partnering with other firms.

If you’re thinking co-working could be right for your business, here are 5 points you should consider before making the move to a co-working space:

1. Creativity and innovation

Due to the vibrant interior designs of modern-day co-working spaces and the variety of individuals and companies they attract, co-working spaces perfectly foster an environment of creativity, inspiration, and innovation, helping to stimulate new ideas and approaches.

In this environment, employees can build relationships with a range of individuals working in creative or technology-based start-ups. More businesses now choose to seat their innovation teams away from the company’s traditional office environment, and in co-working spaces to promote out-of-the-box thinking.

While co-working helps individuals thrive in a collaborative working environment, some may feel that co-working spaces can be slightly noisier than a traditional office. That’s not necessarily the case. Co-working spaces that provide private offices, meeting rooms and phone booths can empower you to focus, noise-free and without any distractions.

2. Co-working as the new networking

Co-working communities play host to a wealth of networking events that not only equip your employees with new skills and insights, but also provide them with a platform to meet other like-minded individuals.

In some cases, many businesses working in these environments build commercial relationships with other companies, ultimately benefiting the bottom line of both enterprises.

Working in a shared space, however, means that businesses and individuals may find themselves working in close proximity to direct competitors. This could challenge confidentiality.

It’s vital that those in a co-working space are mindful about who they are speaking with, and that they stay focused on what they want to achieve. Despite this, collaborating with a competitor can result in positive outcomes such as new business. Coopetition anyone?

Another thing that differs between co-working spaces is the sense of community and the helpfulness of the Community Managers, if present.

At some shared office spaces, you just share some common areas, a printer and a small kitchenette, but you don’t really know your co-workers. At other co-working providers, there is a strong sense of community and openness, where Community Managers facilitate interactions and where long-lasting friendships are made at events and happy hours.

3. Cost and maintenance

By taking an office at a co-working space, you could save your business up to 40 percent in costs compared to a traditional office space.

Businesses are not required to deal with purchasing furniture, cleaning, maintenance, internet connectivity, or the more mundane tasks such as checking how much ink is left in the printer. It’s all taken care of by the co-working provider.

Instead of you taking care of the maintenance of your office, the co-working provider will ensure it remains in tip-top shape. You can then focus on your business’s growth, without the hassle or headaches.

Whilst co-working can be cost-effective for many companies, the costs of moving into a co-working space are obviously higher than launching a startup from home or a coffee shop. So if you’re a new business you need to carefully budget in advance, and ensure you can cover the cost of the deposit and rent for at least three months in advance.

4. Flexibility by design

Co-working spaces allow companies to quickly scale up or down office space based on the business’ requirements and levels of maturity.

Shared office spaces offer a variety of membership options, allowing you to consider your office needs on a monthly – rather than annual – basis. You don’t need to know exactly how many people your team will have in half a year or a year, at any given month you’d only pay for the offices and seats you’re actually using.

In addition to offering flexible membership contracts, co-working spaces also allow for flexible working styles. Some spaces are accessible 24/7, providing the autonomy for you and your employees to choose when you – and they – work.

In co-working spaces different workplace environments are typically customized to support different working styles dependent on whether you need to be heads down on a task that requires solitary thought and attention, or in a large meeting space that needs all hands on deck.

Not all co-working spaces are accessible round the clock, and some will only open their doors during typical operating hours (9am-5pm); so take your preferred working hours into consideration.

5. Amenities and discounts

Many co-working spaces offer members a series of amenities, benefits local to the area. This can include unlimited tea and coffee, reduced gym membership fees, discounts on breakfast and lunch, even massage and dog-walking services.

This could be a big factor as to why a talented individual chooses to work for your business over another, for the lifestyle that your workplace enables. Such lifestyle can also improve employee engagement and happiness.

Co-working can be a great alternative to a traditional office, or to working from home, as it can help foster creativity and innovation and broaden your network of contacts. One should remember that co-working spaces are not “one size fits all,” and that each space has its own characteristics, vibe, and advantages for different types of teams.

Enterprises and individuals need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each co-working provider, to ensure they find the best space to suit their teams’ needs and goals.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Oded Israeli, VP Marketing at Mindspace who provide co-working locations with beautiful and inspiring workspaces for teams of all sizes.

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