So, you’re working on your own or with a small group of people and you’re looking for a coworking space or a shared office to call home. (Well, actually, to call ‘work’.)
With the jumble of business centres, managed offices, work hubs, coworking spaces and start-up accelerators in most cities, it can be difficult to sort it all out. You may be wondering where you CAN work even before you touch on where you’d PREFER to work – and which workplace would benefit you and your business the most.
Where should you look? What questions should you be asking? How will you find the best place for you and/or your start-up?
It might help to start by reading through this post: Five Types of Offices for Independent Workers and Start-ups. Once you’ve got a rough idea of the terminology, you’ll want to ask yourself…
What am I Looking for in a Workspace?
Before you launch your search for the perfect shared office, you need to know what you’re looking for and what your priorities are. You are going to face tradeoffs involving cost, privacy, access, location, and amenities, especially if you’re a start-up with two or more people working together every day. If you’re working alone, then you may find that the most affordable option –hot desking part-time in a coworking space while maintaining your home office– is also the best. Many people have already come to that conclusion, and that’s why coworking spaces have become so popular in the past ten years.
Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself:
- Is there a person or people I want/need to work with part or full-time?
- What are my needs/wants regarding privacy and interaction with other people?
- Do I want to work away from home every day? Am I looking for a full time or a part-time space?
- Do I want a permanent desk where I can leave my stuff, or would I prefer to choose which desk to use on the day?
- Where would my workspace ideally be located, geographically?
Privacy and Interaction
For Lone Workers
If you’re a lone worker, then you’re looking for hotdesking, desk rental or office rental.
Desk rental and office rental let you keep at least some of your stuff at work, and they only make sense for people who plan to be working away from home full time or almost full time. The downside? Office and desk rental tend to be expensive, and they limit or eliminate interaction with other people in the space.
Hotdesking is the least costly option, it’s ideal for people who still want to work from home part-time, and it’s great for sparking interaction. Some hot desking facilities (like MinorOak) can provide lockers and portable cabinets for members, so hot desking full time with a bit of on-site storage may be do-able.
If you’re self-employed or a remote worker, do not underestimate the importance of meeting and working with others. Chances are, it’s the most important benefit –psychologically, emotionally and in terms of business opportunities– that getting an office away from home will have for you. Think about how you want to work, and how your options will affect your productivity, your happiness, and your openness to new people and ideas.
If you’re part of a start-up with more than one person working together in the same physical space, then privacy and the ability to work together effectively are prime concerns. You could opt for hotdesking in a coworking space, but would that give you enough privacy? Would having a meeting room and phone rooms at hand help? Or would you be better off in a room with a door where you, as a group, can keep things confidential and shut out distractions?
Meeting independent workers can benefit a start-up; they can provide help and insight, and they may even function as a freelance or hiring pool. However, if you’re a multi-person start-up, then your core colleagues are already in place.
- Do I need a dedicated office with a door where I/my workgroup can have absolute privacy, all the time?
- Do I meet with clients or colleagues regularly? Do I need access to a meeting room or shared work area?
- Do I need a space for private phone and video calls?
- Would I/we benefit from a shared receptionist?
Full Time or Part Time?
With a permanent desk or private office, you will need to commit to regular work hours away from home. That’s going to cost more than hot desking, but working away from home full time has advantages, too. It will help you separate your home life from your work life and control your time.
You can choose either a static base or a hot desking environment for full-time work. If part of your reason for seeking out a shared office is networking and interaction, then a rented desk or especially a private office may not be ideal. Think about whether a wall-facing monitor and access to a private meeting room and phone rooms might meet your need for privacy. Hot desking is affordable and offers maximum opportunities to meet and get to know people.
The other great thing about hot desking: it’s ideal for part-time working away from home. It’s a more efficient use of resources and therefore more cost-effective if you share a pool of desks with others. If you value your home office and just need to get out of there for one, two or three days a week, then hotdesking part-time at a coworking space is the right option for you.
Is saving money a prime consideration? It is for many of us, though working with others can help you boost your bottom line through references, referrals and even direct work. A shared office can really pay off.
To save money, look for spaces that have some of these features:
- The rates are affordable (duh)
- Free coffee and tea
- You can bring your lunch
- Transport isn’t going to be a huge added expense…
- You can get there on foot or by bike (cheapest), or
- You can park for free or inexpensively (if you have a car), or
- public transport is convenient (remember – walking to and from transport is exercise!)
If your income is variable, you may want to avoid long-term contracts. Some coworking spaces, including MinorOak, offer monthly memberships with no long-term commitment.
Finally, you need to think about location. Again, it’s all about prioritisation. Which benefits are most important to you?
Do you want to be more physically active? Look for spaces that have some of these features:
- You can walk or bike at least part way in
- There are places nearby where you can do active things you enjoy (parks, gyms, yoga or dance studios, etc.)
- The space itself has ways to be more active (on-site activities or groups)
Would you like to have more opportunities to enjoy city life? Could your social life use a boost? Look for spaces that have some of these features:
- They’re in or near the city centre
- There are good pubs and restaurants nearby
- Your partner/friends work nearby or can get there easily
- It’s near events venues you like
- it’s in an exciting area, and/or there are areas you enjoy visiting enroute
You may have other considerations, as well. Perhaps a space that’s near client offices, a particular business district, or government offices would benefit you. All of these considerations can help you narrow down your choices.
Now that you’ve given these issues some thought, it might be time to come up with a system for finding and ranking your options… a free spreadsheet, perhaps? That’s for next time!