Guide to Co-Working Spaces and Alternative Office Spaces
If the cost associated with leasing your own office space and purchasing all the equipment and amenities you need to run an office has you panicking a bit, consider moving your business into a co-working space.
Co-working spaces are popping up all over the country, and they offer entrepreneurs and small business owners affordable venues to set up shop in a collaborative environment. Typically open-concept workspaces, they offer members a dedicated desk, Wi-Fi, fax services, conference rooms and kitchens, and some even have office administrators and secretaries who support members.
The Benefits of Co-Working
You reduce overhead costs on rent, electricity, internet and even things like water, coffee and snacks. Memberships at Blankspaces in Los Angeles start at just $99 a month for full-time office access. And at CoCo in Minneapolis, a concierge is available to order lunch, stock the coffee and pastries, and introduce members to one another. If you plan on ordering a more specific resource, you can also check if another member of the co-working space has already purchased it, is willing to sell a portion or wants to split a larger (and therefore more discounted) order.
If you are a one-man or -woman show, working from home can be lonely. Plus, if you are one of those people who prefer to work with others, it can make starting your own business pretty horrible. Working around other similarly minded people can inspire and motivate you.
You'll have the opportunity to network and collaborate with other small business owners. Those people can be great resources with whom to discuss problems, toss around concepts or to vet ideas. Some co-working spaces have specific themes (for example, tech or fashion), which allow you to build connections with others in your industry. Additionally, most co-working spaces offer special events and training opportunities that make it even easier for you to connect with others and gain skills in a classroom setting.
You can work how and when you want. Plus, most co-working spaces offer month-to-month contracts, so you aren't locked into a long lease. You can leave and move into a more permanent office space when the time is right for you. For example, Grind in New York City allows you to pay $35 per day or $500 per month, which offers an extreme amount of departure flexibility.
If you've been working out of your home, you know that work often overlaps your personal life because you can never quite leave it behind. A co-working space allows you to separate your home life from your work life for relatively cheap—and that can do wonders for your morale and productivity.
Finding a Co-Working Space
Finding co-working spaces in your area is just a few clicks away. If you’re looking for a space that fits your needs, try searching at one of these sites:
Co-working isn’t ideal for everyone, and for some, it may feel a little crowded. Some people feel co-working leads to less privacy, a noisier office space, more resource hoarding and food theft. If co-working doesn't sound like the best bet for you, here are some alternatives to consider:
Small business incubators
These programs are sponsored by private companies, investors and public institutions with the goal of growing young businesses by providing owners with space and other essential resources.
Essentially, a company sublets you a set of offices from its suite of offices, renting as much or as little space as you need and can afford. You will probably share a kitchen or bathroom, but your office space itself will be your own.
If you know another small business owner who is also in need of a space (and whose work habits are compatible with yours), go together on a lease and share the space.
Technology makes it possible and easy to work from just about anywhere. You and your employees can work from home and still find it easy to collaborate online with free resources like Skype, Google Drive and Google Docs.
Jaimy Ford is a business writer and editor. She writes subscription newsletters, training tools and blogs that focus on professional development, leadership, productivity and more. Her goal in everything she writes is to provide actionable advice that you can put to use immediately.