Starting up can be an exciting time and picking out your office space can be an equally daunting and stimulating experience. Finding a space that gels with the personality of your company and falls within your budget can become a difficult task. Most entrepreneurs start out of their homes. As the company grows, it becomes difficult to accommodate new employees and instituting a work from home policy tends to isolate employees. Co-working space is a solution that many entrepreneurs have found effective.
Co-working spaces are locations where different individuals or businesses come together to share work spaces. The trend of co-work spaces have started roughly in 2005. Studies have shown that number of co-working spaces have almost doubled each year since then. The future of co-working spaces is strong with entrepreneurs like Rahul Prakash, partner at Hatch Today predicting that “The word co-working won’t be a word in the future, it will probably just be the way we work.”
Why are entrepreneurs becoming more and more attracted to the idea of a co-working space? Let’s discuss the advantages.
The Benefits of Co-working Spaces
In the age of social sharing and crowd-sourcing, co-working spaces can deliver benefits that were previously only enjoyed by larger organisations. Enjoying facilities as varied as high speed internet, a cafeteria or transport facilities for a small business have now become possible in co-work spaces. With co-working, entrepreneurs come together as a block of consumers who have more leverage when dealing with service providers.
Typically co-working spaces do not host competitors. This reduces the amount of competition between residents of the space and fosters a spirit of camaraderie. Co-working spaces are also great for employees who are looking to improve their skills as they can share a space with skilled individuals they can look up to. By sheer presence of other companies in close proximity, your employees will be able to expand their vision and find innovative solutions to problems.
Co-working spaces enable entrepreneurs, just starting out, to access spaces in locations that are coveted and in a sense, have that “cool” factor. Whether it’s in terms of the décor, the state of the art technology or the recreation rooms, co-working spaces attract a younger, more vibrant workforce. Rajat Tandon, Senior Director, NASSCOM 10,000 Startups pointed out, “Co-working should be looked as a value addition play instead of just having a real estate to begin with”
Community Building through Co-Working
Community building is a core argument in favour of co-working spaces. Informal valuable discussions can take place around the coffee machine or water cooler. More than the obligatory social interactions with people within their own companies, these interactions are more meaningful as they happen by choice. Most co-working spaces afford the opportunity for people to choose how social they are on any given day combining spaces of social interaction with quieter ones, more suited for concentrated work. It’s the value that employees get from these exchanges that ultimately make the difference. As Sagar Saxena, Business Development Head, Razorpay, comments on his experience at co-working space BHive, “Even if I’m just working there, I probably get exposed to more and more webinars, more and more events, even informal parties are a very good method to break the ice, to get more and more people to interact with each other.”
BHive founder Shesh Paplikar found his co-working experience in US at a Tech startup to be incredibly rewarding that when he returned to India, he began looking for a similar space. Unable to find of that met his needs, he opened his own, turning his need into a business.
Picking the Right Co-working Space
The process of picking a co-working space has many similarities to picking an office space but with a couple of key differences.
Like a traditional office space, the factors of cost and location are two key determinants. At a co-working space you can pick a lease time that fits your needs and don’t need to commit to the traditional time periods of a year or share three months’ rent as a deposit. The location you decide can be based on convenience for you and your employees. However, you may need ensure it is also accessible for your clients.
Two major aspects should influence your decision to select a co-working space. The first is amenities offered, in terms of office furniture, lighting, screens and projectors for conferences and video conferencing and so on. The second is other businesses that take up residence in the space. Stay away from co-working spaces that host competitors. You may want to spend an afternoon at the space to gauge the work culture of your fellow inhabitants. If there are no warning bells and you can see that productive work is happening, then you have found a place to call home.