Is a Coworking Space Right for Your Business?

The Farm SoHo is one of NYC’s many coworking spaces

Sep 8, 2017

Finding the right space for your business is a headache. It’s difficult to find a workspace that matches your needs, those of your clients and doesn’t cost the Earth.

You could choose to run your business from home, or you could hire out a permanent office space. Both have their advantages and disadvantages — while your home office is free to use, you may struggle to stay motivated and bring that air of professionalism your work demands. A permanent office space may look the bee’s knees and give you all the amenities you need, but you’ll also be tied into a (potentially) expensive rental agreement.

There is another way. Coworking spaces are riding the wave of popularity with small business owners, freelancers and those that have thrown off the shackles of a 9–5 job to work in a more flexible way.

A coworking space is, essentially, a shared workspace where you rent a desk or a private office on a day-by-day basis. You can use the space as and when you need so you’re not forking out for an office that you only need to use occasionally. And the coffee and tea is usually free too.

In fact, there are a tonne of benefits around coworking. You just need to work out which ones matter to your business:

1. You’ll never have to work in a cubicle again

Every space is different, but most have a versatile range of spaces that you can use for your work.

For example, out of all the many NYC coworking spaces, The Farm SoHo has a fleet of hot desks, dedicated desks (if you’re the territorial kind), private offices, meeting rooms, nap pods (yes, that’s right, nap pods) and a really cool NYC events space where they host everything from some great social nights (did I mention there’s a raised DJ booth?) to serious business meetups for the NYC startup scene.

The Farm’s event space. The Farm’s event space.

So, work out what you want to use the space for. If you need privacy in your work, then find a space with private offices. If you’re a social butterfly itching to spread your wings, find a space where they emphasise the importance of community and offer a load of friendly break out areas. Which leads me onto my next point…

2. No more talking to the kettle

Confession time. Sometimes, if I’ve had a long stint of working solo from home, I start to go a little teeny, tiny bit crazy. I found myself talking to the kettle the other day as I waited for it to boil.

So, one of the perks of coworking is that you’re going to be part of a kickass community. Every space is different in its approach and the sort of people it attracts — but I’ve found my fellow coworkers to be a very friendly bunch (Huckletree in London is one of my favourite coworking haunts because it has a real emphasis on community).

You can brainstorm, chat and interact with a load of like-minded individuals you’d never get the chance to meet if you were tucked away in a private office or working from home.

It really beats the solitude of home and the sterile environment of your usual office spaces.

Huckletree’s Shoreditch site. Huckletree’s Shoreditch site.

3. Did I mentioned the networking?

And here’s another great thing about coworking. If you need to build more connections for your business then a coworking space is a networking goldmine. As a freelance writer, I’ve regularly benefited from forging connections with coworkers and often entered into work exchanges (I’ll write you a blog post if you design me a logo, for example).

Also, I’ve met new clients. It’s amazing how a chat over the kettle (to a REAL human!) can lead to more work. Most spaces will happily help you further promote your business by, for example, helping you organise an event, practice your pitching technique or using its connections in the wider community to help you reach out and get more work.

Coworking spaces tend to alternate in their focus. Some spaces want to attract a generic crowd of freelancers and small business owners. Others want to attract those working in a specific industry. The Cohere Bandwidth space, for example, is dedicated to musicians and offers a great practice space. Make sure you match your space to your business so you can boost your networking opportunities.

4. And remember to check out the perks (as well as the price and location)

I’ve used a lot of coworking spaces and my advice is this: check out the location (is it close to where your clients are, or your home office? And what are the local amenities?), check out the pricing plans (do you need a daily, weekly or monthly spot?) and ALWAYS visit a space before you sign up to chat with the community manager.

They’ll be your go-to person in a space and can help you answer all the questions you have about a space’s suitability for your business. Also, ask if you can try out a space by working a day for free and make sure you get a tour of the space too.

Oh, and ask about the perks. You’ll most likely get free drinks, snacks, wi-fi and other usual office amenities — but you may also get some other cool stuff (peanut butter and jelly bars and treadmill desks are two particularly unusual bonuses I’ve read about).

That’s the great thing about coworking spaces. They’re such dynamic and diverse spaces — you’re bound to find one that’s a fit for your business.

So, get out there and see what you can find.

Your days of talking to the kettle are over.

Gemma Church is “the freelance writer who gets tech”, a specialist journalist, blogger and copywriter for the science and technology sectors. You can follow her on Twitter here.

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