How to choose the right co-working space for you

Remote working is the future of a flexible working pattern. According to the Office of National Statistics, at least half of workers in the UK will be doing some type of home working by the end of 2020. But what if you’re not into the idea of working from your kitchen?

Using co-working spaces is becoming massively popular, with an increase of flexible office space increasing by 10% in 2018. There’s definitely a buzz about co-working spaces and remote hubs at the moment. If you’re looking at putting your business in a shared office space, here are some of the key things to consider.

What do you actually need?

There are loads of things on offer from co-working spaces, they’ve definitely been listening to their clients. Some things are going to be an absolute must, such as super-fast internet, access to a kettle, and other basic amenities. After that, you need to consider things like:

  • Opening hours. Are you a 9-5er even with flexible options, or do you need your business to function until the sun comes up?
  • Flexible spaces. You might only need a handful of desks for your everyday operations, but are you going to need meeting rooms, closed offices for conference calls?
  • Free refreshments. It may seem like a ‘nice to have’ but it might be worth grabbing a napkin and figuring out how much time and money will be saved by having coffee and tea on tap.

Once you’ve figured out what want out of the co-working space, think about the space you actually need. A lot of the big co-working spaces offer three basic options

Hotdesking

You pay to be able to use any desk that’s available. No space is ever going to be yours to leave your mug and family photo, but it’s usually the cheapest option and a good way to get started with using a co-working space.

Fixed desks

The desk you hire is yours and yours alone, great if you’re messy or don’t want to be lugging around a load of paperwork. This can also give you a more professional feel; like you’re actually going to work in an office rather than a business-like coffee shop.

Closed offices

More expensive, but much more private and secure. If your company deals with sensitive data or is just a loud group of colleagues taking calls and bouncing ideas around, you might want to get your own closed-off corner of the co-working space.

Look into the future

This is key when looking at your needs – you’re not aiming for your company to stay static for the next twelve months. Now you may be a company of three, but you need to find a co-working space that can grow with your ambition.

As well as understanding the facilities that you’re going to need long-term, make sure you check out the details of the contract you sign up to. Check the fine print and understand:

  • How long you’re signing up for
  • What penalties there may be for breaking the contract
  • Whether the contract can be paused
  • If more than one person can use a desk or space

Most co-working spaces in the UK have options for monthly agreements, lots have offers of trial periods and offer free months when signing up to six- or twelve-month contracts. Read the fine print so you know what you’re getting now and what you can upgrade to.

Co-working culture

One of the biggest bug bears of co-working users is the noise that can be generated by others in the space. There are plenty of people on the other side of the fence who also thrive off the energy that they get from the vibrancy of those around them. You need to decide what is going to work for your company environment.

Be sure to visit the sites that you’re looking at different times of day, Tuesday 2pm is going to look a whole lot different to Friday 11am! While having a look around, have a chat with the current occupants and get their take on things. Find out how they feel about the workspace.

Getting to know your co-workers can be a massive benefit to your growing business too. It’s Entrepreneurship 101 to always be building your networks, so work in a space that is complementary to your mission – whether you want to be surrounded by buzzing creative types or focussed business professionals will dictate where you pick your space.

Location, location, location

That old cliché? It is, indeed, one of the most important factors to take into account. Less expensive office and desk spaces are likely to be a little harder to get to, but do you want your client spending 40 minutes on a bus or £30 on a taxi from the nearest train station?

Some other things to look out for are…

  • How long it takes to get from the nearest train station, underground, tram, or bus stop
  • Are there places to lock up bikes, and do you really need car parking spaces?
  • Plenty of food a coffee places within walking distance
  • Gyms, bars, supermarkets – do you want to build a lifestyle offering for your employees?

Getting through the door

Once you’ve put together an online shortlist, go and visit your potential locations. As well as the vibe and the other companies, you should take note of

  • Whether the chairs are comfortable, as well as funky
  • The WiFi signal throughout the whole place
  • If your mobile phone signal works everywhere, even the toilets

One insider tip is also to check the soundproofing of the closed office spaces. You might only be taking desks for now, but do you really want to be listening to someone else’s conference call when you’ve got a deadline to hit?

Wrapping up

Co-working spaces in the UK are becoming an important part of the business eco-system. Whether your whole company is going to move into one, or you’re a remote worker looking to get out of your own home, they provide support for a growing business.

If you know what you need and want, pay some site visits to get to know the dynamics. You will be making a decision that will propel your business into further success and growth.