Sharing office space with coworkers evokes a lot of mixed feelings. Some people love it, others hate and it would rather work alone.
However, even if you don’t have any employees, you can opt to share an office with other people. These are called coworking spaces – and could be an excellent option for your business.
Coworking spaces have exploded in popularity over the last few years. In 2010, there were only 600 coworking spaces around the world. By 2020, there were 26,300 spaces. That’s over a 480% growth.
Want to find out more details and see if coworking spaces are the right fit for you? Let’s dive in, finding out the answer to what is a coworking space and is it worth it for your business.
What is a coworking space?
A coworking space is as simple as it sounds. It’s a shared office, or space, that people can come to work in.
Remember when you entered a cafe and it was full of people on laptops, ordering the minimum number of drinks so they could hog the prime spots and comfy sofas all day long? A coworking space is a little like that. Except, workers are welcome to stay there all day and free up your favourite Costa window seat.
Coworking spaces are offices that are basically open to people who pay a small rented fee or membership, rather than belong to a certain company. This means it’s an option for small businesses, freelancers and sole traders alike to have their own office space, without paying the eye-watering costs of hiring a whole outlet or floor just for themselves.
A coworking space offers:
- A shared working space, often with 24/7 access;
- Wi-Fi and power utilities;
- Basic office equipment, including desks, chairs and more;
- Shared printing, copying, faxing and/or scanning facilities;
- Shared kitchens, restrooms or common spaces.
At a fundamental level, all coworking spaces will give you a desk and a chair for you to start working. But that’s not all. Some coworking spaces go above and beyond, also offering services like storage, meeting areas, cafes, lounge areas and more.
Tech giant Google also has their own coworking spaces around the world, including the 7 floor Campus London, based in the heart of East London’s Tech City. More than just a coworking space, Google also offers businesses there featured programs designed to help grow small businesses and startups.
But that is the extreme of coworking spaces. Most are just designated spaces for you to come and work alongside like-minded businesses and colleagues.
What are the benefits of coworking spaces?
Coworking spaces are booming in popularity, and it’s not expected to die down any time soon. In fact, by 2024, it’s predicted that the number of working spaces will double, surpassing 40,000 around the world.
The reason for the demand? Workers are happier using them, as almost 90% of coworkers reported that they are happier since joining a coworking space.
So, let’s talk about some of the reasons you might want to use a coworking space.
1. It’s cheaper than getting a full office
If you’re a sole trader, freelancer or are running a business by yourself, hiring a full office is out of the question. It’s a lot of money for just one person.
Plus, with most office hires, you’ll also have to sort out power, wifi, cleaning and other amenities on top of that. Unless you’ve got a full workforce that needs to be in the office all day, this is an option that many businesses just can’t afford.
Coworking spaces eliminate that, as you’re not paying for the entire office. You’re paying for a desk, or a space, within it. That means it’s a lot more cost-effective and affordable for small businesses and start ups.
2. It gets you out of the home
We’re sure you’re all too familiar with the struggles of trying to run a business from home. Whether you’re lucky enough to have your own office space at home, or if you’re trying to do everything from your kitchen table, working from home is full of challenges – particularly if you have a family.
Trying to work at home means that even with the best intentions, you’ll still get distracted. Whether that’s being interrupted by your family or young children, frequent trips to the fridge, suddenly realising that you need to put a load of laundry on or even hearing the call of the TV… working at home isn’t easy.
Having a coworking space eliminates that, getting you out of the house and into a new, distraction-free environment designed to work in.
3. It can help with the work/life balance
Not only can working at home be difficult, it can also interfere with your work/life balance. If you work from home, there’s no way to mentally separate out what’s work, and what’s home life.
Even the small things, like doing a few chores during your workday, or answering a few emails while watching TV at night, can disturb this balance. It blurs the boundary between the two, so when you’re trying to relax at night a part of your brain will always be switched on.
However, if you work from a coworking space, you can help put a stop to this problem. Having a physical location to work in will help you separate out what’s work, and what’s home life. It will also help you switch off and learn how to leave the office work, at the office so you can enjoy a better, healthier home/life balance.
4. It’s a free networking opportunity
The point of coworking spaces is that you’ll be working alongside others. That means you’ll be able to form new connections, talk to other businesses and become part of a little community that’s designed to help each other out.
In some cases, you might even get yourself some great business partnerships and deals from the situation. It’s all about getting yourself in the right place at the right time, with the right people.
We’d maybe avoid giving everyone in the office a hard sales pitch though. They’re there to work just as much as you are. It’s a cooperative space, not a sales floor. Just make sure you have that elevator pitch ready. You never know who you might bump into there.
5. They can offer access to printers
Some coworking spaces come with access to all types of utilities and spaces, including cafes, meeting rooms and more. But there’s one utility in particular that we should mention here.
Most coworking spaces come with access to printers, scanners and more. That might seem like a small thing, but being able to have a more reliable printer rather than fork out the cost for one to have at home (as well as the space to store it!) can really help a business out.
However, if you do choose to buy this equipment at home, remember that if you are a limited company, you’ll be able to claim back the cost of these items as an allowable expense. It’s one benefit to registering your business as a limited company, rather than a sole trader.
Coworking success stories
We often hear people talk about the benefits of coworking spaces, but let’s put some actual success stories behind it.
The following companies all started out as ideas within a coworking space:
Cofounders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp used a coworking space to get together and come up with ideas to solve the taxi cab crisis in San Fransico. Their solution? The $15 Billion company Uber.
Although Instagram is now firmly under Facebook’s wing, the photo network app was developed entirely inside a coworking space.
The world’s largest crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, was the result of another lightbulb moment that happened inside a coworking space.
What are the disadvantages of a coworking space?
Coworking spaces aren’t for everyone. To help you get the full picture and decide if it’s right for you, we’ve also rounded up some of the disadvantages to coworking spaces that you’ll need to consider.
1. The money
Renting a coworking space is cheaper than getting a dedicated office. But, it’s not free. There are still costs involved here, and for some businesses there just might not be any room in the budget to allocate to this kind of space.
2. The people
Just like you can’t choose your family, you can’t choose your coworkers.
This means you might have to get prepared that not everyone you’ll share an office with will be your cup of tea. You might have to encounter Chatty Susans, Boring Daves or other office characters that you just don’t like.
3. The noise
Coworking spaces can be great places to get your head down and work. And other times, they can be full of distractions, noise and conversations much like a real office.
If you’re a person that needs to work in dead silence, you might not be a fan of coworking spaces after all.
Working from home can have its downsides, but one thing it will always have over other options is the commute. There’s nothing quite like being able to roll out of bed and go straight into the office to start your day.
Depending on the coworking space that you pick, you might end up with a hefty commute to and from your working space, particularly if there are no parking facilities or if it’s not close to public transport.
If you’re carrying a laptop or other equipment to and from the office, this can be a big one to consider.
5. Being presentable
This one might not be a dealbreaker for most, but it’s worth mentioning. If you run your business from home, you can dress however you want. But if you’re in a coworking space, you will have to look presentable.
That doesn’t mean you need to be suited and booted or adhere to a strict office dress code. But if you turn up in slippers and a dressing gown that you’re a fan of working in at home, you might drag down the entire reputation of your business. And, maybe, be politely asked to change.
How much do coworking spaces cost?
Coworking spaces are much cheaper than renting an entire office space, but that doesn’t mean they’re free. According to DeskMag, the average costs of a coworking space in the UK is:
- £200 a month for permanent desk space with 24/7 access;
- £168 for a flexible desk space within business hours only;
- £146 for flexible desk space with 24/7 access;
- £74 to hire a desk for a week;
- £24 to hire a desk for a day.
Prices for coworking spaces can vary depending on the type of contract and amenities that are included.
How to pick the right coworking space for you
Sold on the idea of a coworking space? Great. Now let’s help you find the best match for your business with these 4 tips for finding your coworking space.
1. Narrow down your location
The point of coworking spaces is that they are supposed to be a convenient place for you to work. That means, realistically, they should be close by to your home or within easy access to commuting links. There’s no point in renting a coworking space if it takes 2 hours of your day to get there.
You might also want to consider if they have any parking facilities if you’re planning to drive to the office.
If you’re planning on meeting clients, it’s also worth researching the area to see if there are any restaurants or cafes around that make for good client meetings.
2. Calculate your price range
Coworking spaces provide a great solution to hiring a full office for yourself. But there are different types of coworking spaces that you can use – all for different budgets.
If your budget is tight, you might want to consider more basic coworking spaces that just offer basic utilities and desk space. However, if you have a little bit more cash to spare, you might want to opt for one with meeting rooms or other facilities that you’ll need access to.
3. Investigate the community
One of the biggest benefits of coworking spaces is that you can connect with other like-minded businesses in the same space. So, it’s worth investigating the types of businesses and people that are already working in that space before you commit.
If you can go on a tour of the facility, go check it out. Talk to some of the people in there and find out which industries are most attracted to that particular space. You’ll find that some areas and buildings might be more popular for certain types of businesses. For example, more city-based spaces might be more popular with creative or design industries, while those in traditional office districts might be more of your stereotypical business workers.
4. Choose the right pricing plan
Some coworking spaces may offer long-term annual plans, while others could run a monthly subscription-based price model. So, you need to consider what is right for your business and growth. If you’re not sure where your business will be in the next few months, we’d recommend taking out short term pricing models that you can exit or upgrade as your business changes.
Want more tips on running your business?
We’re here to help.
- Inspiration and ideas on how to market your business online;
- Solutions and answers to your accounting woes;
- The latest business news;
- Legal advice and thorough guides on how to set up and run your business;
- In-depth reviews of the best software;
- And much more.
Whatever you need, you can find it on the Business4Beginners website.