Alessa McNally, head of community at TOG (The Office Group), explores how to make sure you pick the right co-working space for your company.
The co-working phenomenon has been around for over 15 years now, but it’s more recently that the sector has blossomed; as entrepreneurship and self-employment have boomed, and businesses increasingly desire more flexibility. Shared spaces are now ubiquitous in the UK, particularly in London, which is one of the world’s largest co-working hubs.
The beauty of being spoilt for choice is that you can be selective. Historically ambitious demands are today considered commonplace, and you shouldn’t shy away from making demands that will allow you to choose a space which perfectly fits your brand and style of working.
Finding a workspace that will help you gain new business, grow your network, get in shape physically and mentally, feed you, entertain you, and achieve all of this within or below your budget, is no longer a pipe dream. We spend almost 40% of our lives working, so where we choose to do this has to feel right. Being comfortable in your place of work will allow you to get the most out of your environment.
It is important to choose a workspace that provides a variety of spaces from which to work. Different tasks require a different environment, so look for a provider that gives the freedom to roam around. We all have days when we need a quiet space to concentrate, such as a focus room or library, while at other times, we crave the buzz of a co-working area or café, where we are encouraged to get to know the neighbours.
Choosing a provider that has a number of locations for you to use at no extra cost has the added benefit of flexibility for your clients, who may be based all over the city. Having the use of multiple buildings takes the stress out of trying to find a place to meet at the last minute and eliminates the worst-case scenario of noisy coffee shops.
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Wellbeing at work is no longer considered a luxury, it’s a key component of the workplace, and employers are now focused on ensuring their employees maintain a good work-life balance and fit well-deserved leisure breaks into their working day.
Research has shown that taking time away from your desk is extremely beneficial to health and can boost productivity, so having options for recreation readily at hand isn’t something to overlook while on your search. This could mean blowing off some steam at a fitness class taught by professional athletes, taking part in a workshop, or attending a talk or seminar. And let’s not forget the parties; events held for members of a shared workspace are a great place to network and make friends in your new work home.
A diverse community
Arguably, the most important ingredient to look for when choosing a co-working space is a strong community. Who works from your potential space? It’s worth looking at providers who have an “open-arms” approach; engaging with, and encouraging interaction between members in order to build a diverse and vibrant community. This provides access to businesses from a vast pool of industries and allows the possibility of chance encounters with people who may not have previously been on your radar.
A diverse community is most useful when you are provided with the tools (and ice breakers) to access it. Community teams are a priceless gift and should exist to help connect you to the wider community, potential mentors and the general public in a way that you are comfortable with, as well as provide you with the tools you need to do it yourself.
Is your business fit-to-scale?
Ask what percentage of tenants are working together to scope out the level of engagement between members in the building, and ensure this is at a level you are comfortable with. While there are endless benefits to being a part of an engaged community, a “community feel” is not important to everyone, but it is useful to have the option available.
Design is a fundamental component to choosing the right workplace, too. Look for a beautiful space with a considered design, which provides the right atmosphere for your business, allows you to make your own mark on the space and is somewhere you can be proud to invite clients.
Don’t forget the T&Cs
Transparency, flexibility and simplicity are all key when entering into a contract. Co-working agreements shouldn’t come with a mountain of terms and conditions to sift through and what is written should be easy to understand. The fine print is where you’ll see just what you get for your money. A beautiful space (or spaces) that allow you to adjust your membership type to fit both the progress of your business as well as uncertain economic times.
Parting with your money is serious business and value for money is at the top of most tenants’ check lists. Finding a workplace that has all of the above while remaining within your budget is not too much to ask. It may take some research and time, but it’s well worth the effort. You never know, the space you’re looking for could be right under your nose.
For more expert advice on choosing the right property for your company, visit the property section of UKTN.