A coworking space is a shared office or workspace in which people who aren't necessarily employed by the same company work alongside one another. Coworking has become increasingly popular as more and more people are doing freelance or contract work; a coworking space allows people to enjoy the benefits of a shared office setting while working on their own projects.
Finding the Best Coworking Space:
1. Locate coworking spaces in your area.
There are typically a number of coworking spaces in any given city, and given coworking's popularity you'll find more and more in smaller cities. While one could rely on the local coffee shop or library for getting work done, they come with a number of drawbacks: the need to order coffee or food to maintain your space and/or having to pack up your computer and other supplies when you leave your spot for a moment (and the possibility that you'll lose it while you're away) are just a couple.
One huge advantage coworking spaces have over free public spaces or coffee shops is that you get your own desk or workspace, and you don't have to worry about your laptop being stolen while you're in the bathroom. You can find a coworking space near you by searching for "coworking" with "[your city or area]". If there are multiple results, you can hone them down by neighborhood.
2. Test drive a few coworking spaces.
Find a few coworking spaces that suit your logistical requirements and give them a trial run. Call them and find out if you can rent a desk for a day or two, or at least come in and tour the space. Coworking spaces develop their own cultures, their own atmospheres, and while any coworking space could potentially get loud from time to time, an acceptance of a level of noise that just doesn't suit you could be part of the culture. Find a culture you'll fit into, and don't go in expecting to make changes based solely on your needs. That's a great way to become the least popular person in the office.
Also, make sure the spaces offer everything you need, such as a private room for client phone calls, conference rooms for client or project meetings, equipment like a projector, printer, white board, etc.
3. Consider the networking possibilities.
Ask the coworking space's owner or coordinator about the types of businesses represented in the space, and pay special attention to those complementary to yours. While aggressive networking is obviously unwelcome in a workspace, you'll likely develop at least a friendly acquaintance with the other people in the space, and may be able to provide services to each other's clients.
People are far more likely to recommend someone they know, and coworking spaces provide the opportunity to not only get to know other entrepreneurs, but see how they work.
Advantages of Coworking Spaces:
- Access to office amenities.
- Separates work life from home life.
- More professional setting for client or vendor meetings.
- Potential for networking.
- You choose the space that works best for your business.
4. Make sure the coworking space fits your budget.
One of the many benefits of renting coworking spaces is that they often, unless they're at capacity, offer several different types of membership. You can be a full-time member and work at the space every day; you could get a partial membership and work their a few days a week; and some coworking spaces sell punch cards that allow you to pay in advance for a certain number of visits. Decide what works for you, then decide if you can afford it.
Don't forget about ancillary costs: parking, for example, can be a considerable expense. Food can be another if you're not the type to bring lunch from home. Figure all these in to your overall budget and make sure coworking makes financial sense.
5. Find a coworking space that fills your specific needs.
As more coworking spaces become available, there will be more specialization. Say you're a working parent; instead of arranging separate daycare, look for a coworking space for parents, one that offers babysitting or daycare. If you're running a high-end boutique agency, look for an upscale coworking space that will complement your agency during client meetings. If you're only interested in working alongside other women entrepreneurs you should be able to find a coworking space for women.
That's the beauty of coworking spaces - your work atmosphere is absolutely up to you. Just take your time and find the space that works best for you and your business.
Coworking Space FAQs:
Why do people use coworking spaces?
For a number of reasons. Working solo can be lonely, and it can be invigorating to work in an office setting with a number of other motivated freelancers or entrepreneurs. Being in a coworking space can also help keep you on task, as you've none of the household distractions that can plague working from home. In addition, a shared coworking space can offer amenities like conference rooms and office equipment that will help you present a professional face to clients.
There are also networking possibilities in coworking spaces, as you'll be working with other area professionals who may have complementary businesses or know of other opportunities.
How do I find cheap coworking office space?
Look around. Your city may have all kinds of coworking office space available, so you can likely sort out the available space by price. Remember, though, that cheap coworking space is cheap because the owner doesn't pay as much rent or mortgage as other places, so you're sacrificing something for the price: the location could be less desirable, or the office may not offer the perks found in more upscale coworking spaces.
How do I find the best coworking space in NYC?
Whether you're looking for a coworking space in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, or any other major metropolitan area, you should be able to search "coworking space" and as long as Google can track your location (which it does by default) you should have plenty to choose from. Since we're talking about cities, though, you'll likely want to limit your search to the area in which you want to work, i.e., "coworking space" in NYC can include neighborhoods in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and so forth, so search by "coworking space" plus "[your borough / neighborhood]" and you should get more useful results.
Specialized Coworking Spaces:
- Coworking spaces for parents.
- Pet-friendly coworking spaces.
- Upscale coworking spaces.
- Coworking spaces for women.
- Incubator-supported coworking spaces.
- LGBTQIA coworking spaces.
- African American / Latinx coworking spaces.
How do you start a coworking space?
You'll need to go through the steps to establish a business, so create a business plan and then either work through a business lawyer or an organization like SCORE to get your paperwork in place. Also think about what kind of coworking space you want to create: do you want a "heads down" space in which people can work without distraction? Do you want a more open space so people can interact? Do you want an upscale coworking space with high-end furniture and a $3,000.00 espresso machine? Do you want a friendly space for working parents? Bottom line: what need are you fulfilling that isn't already being addressed by someone else?
You'll need to take the same steps anyone starting a business takes prior to launching your coworking space: study the market and what spaces are already there, form the business entity, understand your potential clientele, develop your brand, and market to the right people. The bottom line is you'll need people in seats to be able to cover your expenses, so doing diligent ground work is essential to ensuring that your space is successful.
How do I find a specialized or niche coworking space?
Depending on the area in which you live, you may have access to all types of coworking spaces. There are women's coworking spaces, LQTBQIA coworking spaces, coworking spaces for minority businesspeople; you can also find industry-specific coworking spaces for legal professionals, creatives, cannibusinesses, ecommerce, foodtech, and far more.
Once you've decided on the type of space you want to work in, just search for it. A large metropolitan area is far more likely to offer a far wider spectrum of coworking spaces than a more rural setting, so if you live in the latter you may have to work with what you get. That said, don't settle, as you'll likely end up unhappy and you'll either be wasting money and/or find yourself unable to work up to your standard. If that's the situation, make your home office as workable as possible until an acceptable coworking space opens up.