Running and operating a small business can be a difficult feat, especially in today’s business climate when big money corporations are, for the most part, running the show. Every decision that you make can have a huge impact on the overall success of your company, so you have to take careful measures to make sure you’re making the right choice on both day-to-day decisions and the big ones. Some of these factors can mean the difference between seeing your business sink or swim.
One of these incredibly important decisions is where a company will have their workplace and what the workplace environment will be like. Having a great atmosphere where employees feel comfortable and engaged is a key factor in business success. That’s where coworking spaces can be incredibly helpful.
What Are Coworking Spaces
Coworking spaces are shared office spaces that offer multiple companies and freelance workers the opportunity to pool together resources in order to cut down on costs. Companies can lease and share desks, office supplies, Internet expenses, office equipment like printers, etc. and the company address. Businesses can use the space at the same time or stagger hours so that each company or freelancer gets a dedicated time in the space.
Why Are Coworking Spaces Useful?
Coworking spaces are quickly becoming the future of the business world for so many reasons. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why coworking office spaces have become so popular.
Without a doubt, one of the most compelling reasons to have a coworking space is reduced overhead. Sharing your office space with others means that you get to cut down on the cost of virtually all of your resources. If you lease an office space directly, you have to pay for all utilities including lighting, maintenance, cleaning, Internet, heating and A/C, etc. If you have a coworking space, you get a number of other people or businesses chipping in on the rental fees and even the cost of furniture and office equipment.
No Long-Term Lease
Companies using a coworking space don’t have to sign a long-term lease, which is appealing for many reasons. Most shared workspaces offer flexible month-to-month lease terms for small businesses. You can adjust your rates at the end of a lease, depending on your situation.
Some work environments don’t provide a very collaborative atmosphere, and that’s another reason why shared office spaces can be a great solution. Many small businesses and companies in the startup stage can greatly benefit from sharing space with like-minded individuals. Open office setups foster a great environment for creativity – 71 percent of shared office users report a boost in creativity. A boost like that can have a big impact on the success of a business. It’s great to have the chance to consult with other small businesses about your ideas and strategies.
With a coworking space, employees can choose to work anytime during the day or in the evening. Normal business hours aren’t always the most suitable for everyone, and having the freedom to work whenever you choose can create a more relaxed and creative office environment that can boost satisfaction levels.
A Huffington Post survey found that 64 percent of employees in coworking spaces reported that they were better at completing tasks on time than in traditional office settings. This kind of increase in productivity can have huge implications for your business. Detroit Denim Co. moved into a coworking space called Ponyride while they were growing their business – during their five years in the space, they grew to eight employees and saw a 50-percent sales growth over the course of their final year there. Their employees attribute their productivity and success to the environment of the shared coworking space.
Sharing an office means that companies have a built-in community that is available for help and support – and also just for fun. You can share resources that you might otherwise have to track down on your own and you can schedule regular events together to boost employee morale and promote engagement with the company. It’s a great way to make the office a fun place to be, instead of just strictly business.
These are just some of the reasons why a coworking space is a great choice for many small businesses.
What Makes a Co-Working Space Successful?
Now that you know why a coworking space is such a fantastic choice for small companies, it’s also important to know what it is that differentiates the successful ones from the not-so-successful ones. Here are a few of the factors that contribute to the success of a coworking space.
Many times people in large cities, like New York, Chicago or San Francisco, have a great need for coworking spaces because the rent for office space is so high. Sharing a space can be a significant cost-saver for small businesses who want to avoid an expensive urban office space lease. However, small businesses operate from towns of all sizes, so don’t feel like you have to limit your choice to a big metropolis. If public transportation is a popular way of getting around, make sure the location is close to a transit stop. Otherwise, you’ll want to make sure there is ample parking nearby or a dedicated parking lot to make access more convenient for employees.
Remember that some businesses will use the space to entertain clients or potential investors, so it should be in a location that is safe and in a nice part of town. Make sure that your space is consistent with your brand.
Make sure that the raw coworking space has a good layout and a comfortable flow. It should be easy to divide spaces for different businesses and employees and, ideally, there should be space for individuals to work as well as shared conference rooms or something that could work as a meeting space for bigger groups. It’s also good to offer employees dedicated desks and/or equipment so that they don’t have to take all their belongings home at night. This offers a lot more stability than having to rearrange desks and office supplies, paperwork, etc. every day.
Facilities with open seating arrangements don’t tend to work as well so it might be worth it to install walled offices to offer more privacy and minimize distraction throughout the workday.
Pricing and Benefits
The best coworking spaces offer companies a fair pricing structure that is considerably less than they’d be paying if they were to lease their own space. It’s up to the owners of the coworking space to decide which amenities will be included in the pricing structure and which will be additional costs. Internet, computers, phones, copiers, coffee, food, cleaning, etc. – all of these are benefits that may or may not be grouped into the overall price of the space. There may be access to additional benefits as well, such as gym membership if there is a gym in the building, parking spaces, 24-7 access, etc.
One of the things that can make a coworking space super successful is the type and quality of employees sharing the space. It’s helpful to have coworkers who are like-minded people and who are ambitious, respectful and working on cool projects. However, companies wouldn’t want to share a space with competitors. Coworking space owners can try to curate a great group of companies who can benefit from each other’s experiences and connections. A shared office space is a great networking opportunity and one of the reasons why young companies love them. Starting and running a small business can be rocky, so it’s a huge bonus for companies to be able to surround themselves with other hard-working and motivated people in a shared office space.
Small businesses don’t always intend to stay small. One of the biggest appeals to a startup or small company is a space that can scale with them. They might start out with just one or two companies and increase to eight or ten in a year. Great coworking spaces offer the ability for a company to switch from a small space to a bigger office up the hall if need be.
Fully Stocked Offices
The best coworking spaces come decked out with everything a small business could need throughout the workday. This might mean a little bit more in terms of initial investment, but the interest in the space should help cover that in no time. These things could include spaces for businesses to pitch to investors, access to accounting help, HR advice, etc. down to staplers, pens, notepads, printing paper and ink and more.
What to Avoid When Creating a Coworking Space
Just like it’s important to make sure that coworking spaces have certain qualities and offerings, it’s also important to avoid certain things. Make sure to steer away from these potential pitfalls in a coworking space.
It might be tempting to rent out all available space in a coworking office in order to recoup on expenses, but cramming too many people in will be a huge turn off to businesses. It’s difficult to get work done when there is too much clutter and distraction and businesses deserve to be treated with respect and allotted a fair amount of space.
One of the perks of renting a coworking space is that companies can maintain focus on their business plan and goals instead of being distracted by paying electric bills, fixing the internet when it’s down, stocking the fridge, etc. They get to dedicate 100 percent of their time to the business. The best coworking spaces won’t ask renters to manage any of the basic around-the-office duties.
Although it’s impossible to predict how all interpersonal relationships will play out, good coworking spaces shoot to avoid conflict and clashing personalities. This might be as simple as just seating people on opposite ends of the building or on different floors, but it’s helpful for coworking spaces to try to rent desks to companies that don’t have a likelihood of experiencing conflict. For example, a sustainable clothing company working next to a company selling expensive mink coats might not be a good fit.
Along with making sure that all businesses have enough space, it’s also important for a coworking space to feature good design. The space shouldn’t be cluttered or decorated in a loud or distracting way. The best ones stick to sparse design and open layouts and allow businesses to add their own personal touches if they like in order to create the work environment that is most productive for their team. Ideally, a coworking space will have a blank-slate sort of feel so that companies don't feel like a certain design or aesthetic is being imposed upon their workspace.
Lack of Security
Shared spaces can pose a threat to security, both physical and cyber. When different companies have to share a network, they need to know that the information they are sharing is being protected or encrypted in a safe way. Likewise, they want to make sure that their physical property is safe and not in danger of being misplaced or stolen. Good coworking spaces should make sure they have measures in place that account for these needs.
Small businesses have a lot to worry about in the early years of running their company. The day-to-day challenges and the big, overarching goals can make business owners and employees feel bogged down, and leasing an office space can add extra, unnecessary stress. Coworking spaces can be a huge benefit for small businesses because all of these needs are covered and it can be a huge cost-saver while businesses are growing. To get financing for your small company – small business loans can be a great way to kickstart your business and take a big step down the path to success!
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