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Are coworking spaces worth the spend?

TechHub 4

One reason London is such a great place for startups to set up base is the sheer volume of co-working spaces available.

They provide a flexible working environment and a lot are located in the most vibrant parts of the city, providing a myriad networking opportunities. But are they actually the best option for startups?

Many entrepreneurs initially develop their ideas and companies from home, given the shoestring nature of startup-dom and the obvious cost-saving implications of doing so. However, an increasing number are choosing to move into co-working spaces, which offer desk space for a variety of budgets in a number of locations.

Money money money

The price of co-working in the capital seems to be around £300 – £600 per month per person for unlimited access, whether for a set desk to call your own, or a hot-desking arrangement/free-for-all.

I actually worked in one years ago that was in the basement of a building, the only natural light was a slither along one side of the room, underneath a spattering of glass tiles in the pavement above. I never sat in one of those sought-after spots – people would race there in the morning as I crept in sleepily, coffee in hand.

Anyway, there are some cost-saving benefits of being based in a coworking space. To name a few: you don’t have to pay bills (they’re all included), you don’t have to buy your own printer and most provide free tea and coffee.

Dimple Lalwani, founder of Social Belly (a sort of AirBnB for dinner parties) is based at TechHub in Campus London. She said: “I guess a lot of people think that working from home saves commuting time, travel costs and even coffees and lunch, but the reality is the amount of people you meet and the amount of things you learn by being surrounded by people who’re in the same boat as you is invaluable.”

“The journey of an entrepreneur can be a very lonely one, especially at the beginning. Being in a co-working space makes me feel like I’m not alone in this journey,” she added.

Unsurprisingly, James Layfield, CEO and founder of coworking space Central Working, agrees: “Joining shared workspaces introduces startups to a like-minded community of businesses and provides them with those crucial connections that drive success.”

But is it for everyone? If you’re a company that deals with a lot of sensitive data, being in an open office where anyone could peep over your shoulder is less than ideal. Equally, if you value quiet time, coworking spaces might not be right for you.

“If you prefer to work entirely independently of any collaboration, then shared workspaces may not be for you, but I’d be concerned about the business prospects of anyone who never intends to work with others,” said Layfield.

Flexibility

One thing that coworking spaces are great for is offering flexible contracts. They understand the nature (and budgets) of startup companies and know these small firms don’t want to part with too much of their hard-earned cash upfront, nor be locked into a lengthy contract …

… read the rest of this article on Cisco’s Startup Hub.

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