7 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Coworking Space
Don’t coworking spaces seem cool?
They can conjure images of a life of beer on tap, collaboration, and innovators solving the world’s problems and making their dreams come true all while listening to music, playing ping pong and enjoying an industrial-chic space.
Let's take a closer look of what to expect from shared offices.
What Is a Coworking Space?
A coworking space is a shared off that multiple businesses, entrepreneurs and remote workers use as their office together. They cowork and share office amenities and supplies, though they're not all employed by the same organization. That said, they can still work together to collaborate and network through events that are often held at these coworking spaces.
What Should You Know Before Choosing a Coworking Space?
I’m writing this article from a coworking space – one that is similar to that stereotypical version I just described although we’re not allowed to play ping pong until after 5, as declared by a witty sign (coworking spaces are often filled with witty signs.) During the day the table is just another work surface.
Coworking works really well for me and, a year after first joining, I’m happy to share some coworking realities and tips that will help to determine whether or not this kind of working arrangement would be right for you and how to find the right one for your needs.
1. Connections Will Take Effort
The act of joining a coworking space does not automatically bring collaboration and a new community of business owners — but your remote work can lead to different connections if you put in the effort. You will get out of the space and people exactly what you put in.
Most coworking spaces have a variety of events for different interests and at different times of the day. Attend events, say hello and follow up to get the most out of the relationships you build with fellow coworkers. You can also make connections by hanging out in common areas or introducing yourself when you cross paths or sit next to someone new.
A friend of mine describes it as being a meerkat. The more you look up and engage, the more people you’ll meet.
2. The People in Your Coworking Space Will Always Be Changing
In addition to entrepreneurs and freelancers, coworking spaces are also populated by remote workers, small teams, and day visitors. You can’t always know exactly who will join you at your shared desk on any given day, so if you meet someone with whom you’d like to keep in touch, grab their details or connect on and make the most of LinkedIn to be sure you don’t lose each other.
3. You Will Still Have to Work
It’s important to know your work style and the environment that best suits your needs before choosing a space. Do you need 100% quiet? Do you like to work with music? Do chatter and activity inspire or distract you? How regularly do you need a professional meeting space? Before you are wowed by the bright and shiny features of a coworking space make sure it is conducive to your working style.
4. You Can Shop Around
Don’t worry about signing on the dotted line right away. Many coworking spaces will allow you to visit for a day, or even a week before you commit. Try out a few to see which feels the most like home to you.
Do your best to perform your regular and required tasks and see how they go. For me, this meant taking client calls in the coworking space to ensure that there was a quiet and private space that worked as well as my home office and met the level of service my clients expect. Loud noises and music are no problem when I’m writing or doing admin work, but I need quiet and privacy for phone calls and meetings.
5. Coworking Spaces Are Not All Created Equal
The coworking spaces that many of us picture are the ones I described earlier in this article. The epitome of cool, young and fun. They are not all like that, though. Some coworking spaces have a very corporate feel. They may offer features like mail service, receptionist coverage, and catered meetings. At first glance, you may not even recognize it as a coworking space rather than an individual office.
6. Your Office Will Reflect Your Brand
How does your space align with your brand? The place where you work and meet clients will give an impression of you and your image. Do you want to be aligned with a fun start-up vibe or would a more formal and buttoned up atmosphere suit you better? Think of the image you’d like to portray when you consider where to set up shop and where your clients would be most comfortable, if applicable.
7. You Will Have to Share Everything
Shared spaces mean that the kitchens, common areas and resources are not yours alone. You will have to share supplies in a coworking space. it is important to pay extra close attention to how your behavior impacts others.
Working from home may mean that dishes pile up or a corporate office may have a team that sets up and breaks down meetings. This usually isn’t the case when coworking. Being a good coworker means leaving shared spaces on time and as you found them. It also means occasionally emptying a dishwasher – another great way to meet people!
Coworking spaces help professionals expand their communities, build collaborations and get more done. There is more to it than beer and ping pong, though, so consider what you want from the space and also what you can bring to your new colleagues.