Coworking is an arrangement in which workers from different companies share an office space.
A coworking space provides cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructures, such as equipment, utilities, receptionist and custodial services, and, in some cases, refreshments and parcel acceptance services.
It is attractive to independent contractors, independent scientists, professionals who work remotely, small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and people who travel frequently.
But beyond just the solopreneurs or early-stage startups, many larger organisations that telecommute have also gravitated towards coworking spaces.
These spaces are beneficial for large work teams that want flexibility and to avoid wasted real estate space if some employees are working from home.
For example, Jellyfish is a marketing agency with close to 2,000 employees worldwide. Its Singapore office is a coworking space.
Advantages of a Coworking Space
There are many reasons why coworking spaces are getting so popular.
For a start, the flexibility of the lease is awesome. Given the pace and uncertainty of the world right now, the last thing you want is to tie down your cash flow to a landlord and be committed to a long lease that you can’t break without paying a hefty penalty.
Instead, your coworking “lease” is provided as a membership, and you can typically choose to subscribe over a long term or pick a flexible pay-as-you-go basis.
Because you have people from all industries and walks of life in the same place, the sense of community is phenomenal. No single day feels the same as you can interact with new people almost daily. The setup of a typical coworking space encourages networking to help each member find new ideas and opportunities.
No one pays for a coworking space to binge Netflix shows. The people around you are equally driven to hone their craft and create the next Facebook or grow their local company. Their drives and ambitions are hard to ignore and will naturally rub off and enhance your own productivity.
But the most important thing for me is the lower costs and higher value. By sharing things like office facilities, reception services, internet, and printers with employees from other companies, one can easily decrease many of the usual overheads associated with a long-term real estate lease.
And some coworking spaces even come with industrial-grade coffee machines or beer taps. These are things you may not even consider if it is your personal office.
Disadvantages of a Coworking Space
As with all things, there are also downsides to coworking.
Coworking spaces are usually architectured to maximise their use of space, so there are limitations to what you can have there. So you probably won’t be able to have the lifesize statue of yourself in the hallway.
And for easy partitioning reasons, even the private rooms within coworking spaces are often movable glass panels. There can be some lack of privacy.
If you have nosy neighbours like me, you can expect someone to peer through your wall every time they walk to the toilet.
Finally, if high footfall to your office is a norm, you might not be able to ride on that since your company’s signage will not be next to the main door.
How to Find a Perfect Coworking Space for You
As the saying goes in the real estate world, “location, location, location.”
A coworking space has to be easily accessible for both your customers and employees.
Focus on amenities that you truly will be using on a regular basis. That includes good Wi-Fi, sanitised workstations, printing facilities, and free coffee. Don’t pick a space just because it comes with a beer tap.
If you are still unsure, you can always check out reviews online about the place and book a free tour to get a sense of the environment before committing.
A coworking space is a great start for business owners and professionals that require their own physical space but do not wish to incur the administrative and facilities hassle that usually comes with it.
And with the low costs, almost anyone can afford them.