BY JOHN RAMPTON
When you run a startup, it’s lean times when it comes to the money you have to spend. If you’re like me and have a remote team, you’ve ditched the idea of a physical office space knowing it would save considerably on overhead. Working from home has its advantages beyond just saving money.
However, since being up and running now for a few years, I realized the advantages of keeping a co-working space on the side. By sharing my own experience, I hope to help other entrepreneurs who are trying to decide whether co-working spaces are good to have or a passing trend. Here’s why I like them and what to look for when considering a co-working space.
Interaction, stimulation and networking
It’s great being at home with the family, but sometimes you need to get out and work directly with your peers. This becomes even more important when you are a single entrepreneur and live alone. Everyone needs social interaction and mental stimulation.
Plus, co-working spaces open up networking opportunities where you can be updated on what’s going on, find new projects, and stay connected to others in your industry. You are surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who can raise your creativity and share potential ideas for a problem you may be struggling with. The emotional support alone is worth its weight in co-working space gold.
Sometimes, working from home can be distracting. When you have an adorable child who is vying for your attention or a spouse who needs your help with a few projects, suddenly your productive day has gone south. There are also televisions, a refrigerator, and other things that may pull you away from your work.
A co-working space offers a reprieve from these distractions. Everyone in the space is working and respects that you are too. You can get in the zone and accomplish a lot more.
Professional meeting space
When you need to have a physical meeting with the team, clients or investors, your home is rarely an option. That’s because you want to keep that space private. This alone makes co-working spaces an ideal solution. These locations also come with all the bells and whistles you would need for these meetings, including meeting rooms with comfortable furniture, audio-visual equipment, other meeting technology, and hospitality spaces for entertaining your meeting participants.
Affordable and casual
Co-working spaces are much cheaper than renting office space. When you are living in Silicon Valley or other urban hubs, that can mean tremendous savings while still tapping into a world of benefits. Those benefits, like access to resources, mentors and more, also should be factored into the added value you get for a minimal investment in a co-working space.
Even better is that you are not tied to a long contract. You can opt to have full-time access or use it on a part-time basis as needed.
How to select a co-working space
While there are obvious things to think about when choosing your co-working space, like location and budget, there are other considerations. To me, one of the most important is the type of security the co-working space has to ensure there are clear policies about how personal belongings are protected from theft. I also asked about how the Wi-Fi was protected, but still employ additional security layers for my devices while there just in case.
With this in mind, I read many reviews and asked many colleagues which co-working spaces they liked and why to see if I could find patterns in the answer that would tell me whether one space really stood out over the rest. It is worth taking the time to gather other people’s opinions on how they feel a co-working space worked for them in terms of both good and bad experiences. While some things that bother your peers may not matter to you, it’s good to hear all perspectives before making a decision.
I like to check the co-working spaces out at different times of the day and evening, as well as various days throughout the week. It’s important that you feel the vibe of a place. This is essentially the culture or environment that is defined by the co-working space owners, the people who use it, and the layout and use of space. You can research and ask many questions, but experiencing it for yourself is the only way to know if a co-working space is right for you.
Co-working spaces aren’t meant to be used in the long term. The plan is for you to grow that startup into a full-fledged company that does actually require physical office space to continue building that empire. However, while still creating, a co-working space has provided numerous value-added benefits that are worth the low expense.