Alex Hill, Business and operations manager at Hello Work, asks whether the popular start-up option of ‘co-working’ is right for you and your business.
Co-working, hot-desking, collaborating, work hubs – there are many terms to describe the modern concept of shared office space. Many entrepreneurs and start-ups love the idea of co-working, being surrounded by like-minded individuals, having a desk and meeting facilities, while saving money in the early stages of building a business.
But if a shared workspace isn’t executed or delivered properly, it can actually be detrimental to a small business or start-up, create unnecessary problems and leave you frustrated.
Alex Hill from Hello Work, based in the Old Granada Studios Building, Manchester, offers the following insights on things to consider when choosing a co-working space:
· Location – is it near public transport and is there parking?
· Ergonomics and sufficient space for each person – look at the furniture, position of windows, doors, etc.
· Noise – check from all angles and determine how this will affect you and those working around you.
· Heating and lighting – some people prefer warmth while others prefer an open window. Remember to check the natural light as well as fixtures and fittings.
· Internet – what is the Wi-fi connection and download speed?
· Artificial collisions – do you really want people walking past your space every five minutes? Are there more private areas available?
· Security and access – how is this monitored? Is there a concierge?
· Communal and meeting spaces – is there an enclosed area or break-out section for you to meet clients and hold confidential discussion, if required?
· Amenities – where can you store food and drinks? What cooking facilities are there? Are there TVs, recreational activities, pool tables etc.? Is there a café, restaurant or shop in the building or nearby?
· Image – does the space suit the image you want to portray for the business?
· Layout – Do you prefer open plan, modern loft style, collaborative areas, or a more closed off rooms, free from distractions?
· Flexibility – what if you find yourself sitting next to people who need to talk on the phone a lot/ loudly and you can’t concentrate? Is there an opportunity to move?
· Support and extra activities – does the building landlord encourage the businesses to get together for networking events, arrange socials, invite inspirational entrepreneurs to speak at group seminars?
· Business advice and encouragement – entrepreneurs and small businesses often have to overcome hurdles in the early stages. Does the landlord share contacts for help with finances, equipment repairs, technical problems, etc.?
· Characters – do you have an adaptable and likeable personality? You may need to be patient on some occasions and work with people you wouldn’t normally work with from completely different sectors and backgrounds.
· Culture – what other sort of businesses are in there and what is the work culture like?
· Time – how long do you need to commit to? What are the opening hours?
· Payment terms – what happens when another co-working tenant doesn’t pay the rent or bills?
· Budget – does the overall cost work out cheaper than you renting a space or desk within another office, or working from home?
When you find the right co-working space for you, this way of working can really help propel your business forward. You’ll often find that your co-workers become advocates for your business and you’ll naturally network together, plus it’s a great way of having people on hand to run ideas by.
It creates a great sense of community and can provide positive business networks, resources, and useful contacts. It can also ease some of the stress of starting a new business and connect you with talented people with innovative ideas and aspirations.
Stick to the above checklist and co-working could be perfect for you.