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9 Things to Consider When Choosing a Coworking Space

Prior to starting RecruitLoop, I’d spent my entire career in the corporate world and I have to say I’d worked in some pretty lavish corporate office spaces.

It was when we started the business that I was first introduced to the concept of a coworking space. Back in 2011 I have to admit I was a bit skeptical! Wobbly desks, a few paper plates and plastic cutlery in the ‘kitchen’ (aka a bench, bar fridge, and microwave), but at least the wifi was good!

At one stage we tested the idea of having our own office. But even as our team grew, we ultimately gave up the space making the conscious decision to have our HQ in a coworking space.

Today I’m writing this post from a coworking space in San Francisco looking out at the Bay sitting on a very comfy sofa in the chic common area. In the last few months I’ve also spent time in coworking spaces in Sydney, Melbourne, London, Singapore, Seattle, LA, and Chicago. Suffice to say I now feel totally ‘at home’ operating out of a coworking space and it’s now no longer strange to be having a meeting in a room seriously decked out like a large igloo, or a taking a call from a ‘calling booth’ resembling Dr Who’s Tardis.

I recently read an interesting piece put out by The Instant Group (specialists in flexible workspaces) and I wanted to share some of their findings.

The demand for shared offices and coworking spaces is on the rise with the total coworking market currently standing at around £15.75 billion (US$20 billion). More businesses than ever are looking towards a flexible way of working in order to reduce costs, increase agility and offer more options to their teams.

Coworking is said to improve productivity, with 71% of workers saying they feel more creative in a coworking space and 68% saying they are able to focus more. Instant Offices have taken a look into the benefits of coworking and how to choose a space that will meet your needs.

Also known as shared office space, coworking gives SMEs, entrepreneurs and freelancers access to all the facilities and perks of conventional office space without the cost of a lease and all the hidden extras that go with it. Coworking enables people to work independently in a space with shared values and a defined culture, and is increasingly being adopted by larger organisations too.

Here are 9 things to consider when choosing shared office space.

1. Office amenities

Most spaces will be kitted out with standard office equipment but be sure to enquire about anything extra, like conference facilities, phone rooms, private spaces, projectors etc.

2. Atmosphere

Focus on finding an office space that’s built for collaboration and productivity. Work spaces are increasingly becoming user-centric these days to ensure a better working environment.

3. Fast internet

When choosing a space, you want internet that provides speed and reliability, so be sure to enquire about and test the wifi speeds to ensure they’re up to scratch.

4. Perks

Many shared office spaces provide things like free tea and coffee, which is worth testing out if you’re going to be drinking it every day. Others offer perks like lunch areas, gym areas, outdoor areas for working and even free beer.

5. Security

You want a space you feel secure leaving your work overnight, so check what the security protocols are and whether your space of choice takes any specific security measures.

6. Access

Is the space open 24/7 or do they close in the evening? Find out what the working hours are so you can plan your time more effectively, and remain flexible if needed.

7. Surrounds

As important as location is to commuter routes, it’s also important for your space to be near the amenities of your choice so you can step out for lunch or hit the gym with ease. Consider what potential customers coming in to meet with you might think of the surrounding area too.

8. Hidden costs

Be sure to ask upfront what all the hidden costs are, from printing and using meeting rooms to kitchen space and coffee machines.

9. Trial periods

Does your space of choice offer a trial period before requiring you to commit to a contract? If so, test it out to see if it meets your requirements.

Some of the other benefits of coworking and shared office space include:

  • Cost effective – only pay for the space you need
  • Collaboration and networking opportunities
  • Occupy as little as one desk, with the flexibility to expand
  • Contracts are available for as little as one month
  • Offices are furnished, pre-cabled and offer various amenities
  • Move in on the day you sign

The popularity of coworking spaces is certainly on the rise. According to research conducted by Instant Offices and CoreNet Global in a report titled ‘Coworking, A Corporate Real Estate Perspective’, the number of coworking centres is projected to total more than 26,000 by 2020.

Today the largest developed coworking markets are the United States, UK and Australia, with the largest emerging coworking markets including India, Brazil, Malaysia, China, Germany, Mexico, France, Turkey, Singapore and Italy.

Maybe it’s time you also jumped on the coworking bandwagon! Who knows where our paths may cross!

Paul Slezak

Cofounder at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years. Follow me @paul_slezak.

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