Why coworking spaces are great for startups (and 5 things to look for)
June 1, 2022
The popularity of coworking spaces has grown significantly in recent times and for good reason. Even before the pandemic, when remote working was not so mainstream, the growth of coworking spaces was on the rise, with an increase in 2018 of 36% around the world, and 16% locally here in the US.
Famous startups like Uber, Instagram and Spotify have all traced their beginnings to coworking spaces, and there are plenty of reasons why it’s no surprise a lot of successful businesses had a start in a coworking space.
Let’s take a look at some reasons why coworking spaces are a great option for startups, or any business that is location independent.
It’s just easier — Trying to organize an office lease, the furniture, and services like fast internet is time consuming, costly and a distraction from what you should be focusing on — growing your business. With a coworking space, that’s all taken care of. Just sign up for a space and get to work.
More flexibility — Without the need to commit to an office lease, you get the benefit of not being tied to a specific location, allowing you to move your business closer to your target market, or an area where you can recruit the right people for your startup. It’s also easier to grow; new team members can be easily added to your coworking space membership.
Better cash flow — By not needing to put down a lot of capital expenditure (CapEx) for an office lease and the furniture to fill it, your cash flow can be healthier. Redirect those funds to marketing your idea and attracting new talent. Accounting is a whole lot simpler as well, with just one monthly payment, which is normally around $200 per member (day passes are generally available if you want more flexibility).
Ideal working environments — Providers of coworking spaces are often experts in knowing exactly what remote workers need to do their best work. Quiet zones, communal areas, conference rooms, kitchens, a killer coffee machine, along with helpful services like printers or postal collection. Some spaces even offer on-site gyms, cafes and child care facilities.
Networking opportunities — This is probably one of the main reasons why coworking spaces is brilliant for emerging businesses. While it’s true you can network online, the pandemic reminded us how much better it is to do it in person. With restrictions eased in most places, coworking spaces are now a great meet-up location for a lot of remote workers who were previously isolating at home.
Networking tips: Make the most of the networking opportunities that coworking spaces offer by getting involved in organized activities: be friendly, participate in events such as launch parties, or try sharing a lunch in the kitchen or common area. Other ideas include branding the products you use (or wear) so everyone knows who you are, and what you do — it’s a great way to spark a conversation.
Coworking spaces aren’t for everyone
For all the benefits, coworking spaces are not ideal for all types of remote workers. For some, they find working with a melting pot of other professionals too distracting, or the locations and pricing don’t suit their needs.
Some may need a greater degree of privacy due to the confidential nature of the work, or have to work from home in order to care for children, parents or pets (if you’re looking to create a great network connection at home, check this out).
For other businesses, they may need to project a more professional image by having their own premises, branded to match the company.
5 things you should look for in a coworking space
In most centers, there are plenty of options, and more are popping up all the time. Not all coworking spaces are created equal, and it pays to check before committing to a space. You can ask around and check reviews, but here are five things you should check for in a coworking space.
Keep in mind that the criteria will vary depending on your business type, work style and the stage your business is at.
1 — Good Internet
The reason why a lot of remote workers head to coworking spaces is for the internet, particularly a fast, reliable connection. Some might even offer 5G wireless, either as a main connection, or failover backup option if there’s an outage with their main carrier. As an aside, the power of 5G can be harnessed to provide fixed wireless access (FWA) and Wi-Fi hotspot solutions. Speed (download and upload), security, reliability, and bandwidth to support a busy coworking space (including bandwidth-hungry solutions like video conferencing) are a must-have.
2 — Well equipped
If you like to have the option of using equipment such as a full-size keyboard, a standing desk or secondary monitors then check if these amenities are available, and not just for a few who arrive early (or never leave if the space is open 24/7!). Other equipment you should check for include printers, scanners, a kitchen, parking, showers, bike racks and communal areas. Some facilities, such as conference rooms, may need to be booked in advance.
3 — The Right Location
This point is subjective. What’s right for you might not suit someone else. Check the location to determine if it is convenient for you or your staff, that it matches the vibe of your business, and if there’s a certain affinity with your industry where you’re more likely to meet up with potential new recruits or contacts that could help your business along.
4 — Flexibility
When you’re a growing business and in startup mode, you need flexibility. Things can change very quickly. You might suddenly experience rapid growth and need to work longer hours or make places available for new employees. Can the coworking space accommodate these changes? Do they offer flexible working hours? What about options for greater privacy or client meeting rooms?
5 — Atmosphere
This is also another subjective criteria but nonetheless it’s still very important to finding the best coworking space for you and your team. If the atmosphere is too lively, it might be good for networking but impact negatively on productivity. On the other hand, not enough social interaction and there might be no networking opportunities and synergy that naturally comes from interacting with other, like-minded professionals.
A good suggestion is to try before you commit to a coworking space. You, or one of your team members, can buy a day pass or two and try it out for size.
Check the facilities, get a feel for the vibe and see if it’s something that will be a match for your startup. Get it right and it could well be the perfect launchpad for your business, as you become the next Instagram, Uber or Spotify.