By Bill Sechter, CEO Atlas Workbase
Coworking spaces might never replace traditional work spaces entirely for all businesses, but they are proving to be an essential, offering flexibility in budgeting as well as whole new options for workforce management. If you’re evaluating whether your business should opt for a coworking space, here are seven tips to help make your decision:
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- The coworking model, originally developed to cater to startups, provide great flexibility for different workforce needs that are fluid. For example some companies are actually getting rid of their leased work spaces entirely, while we’ve seen other companies offering coworking as a perk for their highly mobile and increasingly disparate workforce. Net-net, the short-term nature of coworkspace leases means the business can stay nimble, while providing the ability to add or subtract as needs morph over time.
- Predictable. Nowadays you should be able to find a space with upfront, tiered pricing that clearly outlines basic pricing and services, as well as amenities such as food/kitchen/café, mail and shipping, etc. When doing your diligence ask about the offerings you’re most interested in, but also about additional options you may not have considered, such as availability of flex work space for out-of-town visitors. As a rule of thumb, find out upfront what, if any additional fees may be required—some coworking spaces can charge quite a bit for services like mail drop-off that you would never dream of paying for.
- The total cost per employee should get you excited. There’s rent, of course, but this also includes expenses related to brokers, deposits, build-outs, moving, infrastructure, furnishings, utilities, and everything else. Did you know that, on average, 55% of all desks in traditional work spaces are empty at any given point in the work day? When looking at the total cost per desk per employee, flexible workspace options can make a huge and direct impact on your bottom line. This is particularly true if you can access a space that offers members some type of pay-for-usage-only, including single-day use passes, with flexible space options that meet short-term or long-term needs, where you pay only for time used each time onsite.
- When looking at a collaborative and team building perspective coworking spaces boost productivity and retention. Studies such as, G., Bacevice, P., & Garrett, L. (2015), Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces, Harvard Business Review, illustrate how most people actually thrive much better in coworking situations versus traditional work spaces, even if it’s only a portion of their work day/week. People in coworking communities report “levels of thriving” that approach an average of six on a seven-point scale, which is at least a point higher than the average across studies of employees who work in regular offices!
- Services offered by the workspace can also make a huge difference. This can be simple needs such as fresh coffee and secure, high-speed internet service, or complex things like arranging special AV and catering needs for a special event or meeting. At a bare minimum, you can expect seats and surfaces for basic office tasks. You may also want meeting rooms, private phone rooms, advanced teleconferencing systems, or secure and/or enclosed offices. Think long and hard about the different work scenarios that you need to drive and enhance collaboration and productivity, for small and large teams—and individuals—before you start your facility evaluation process. A workplace isn’t just a room full of desks—you need amenities to help you work and conduct business. For example, does the coworkspace work with vendors such as FedEx Office to provide quick access to a wide range of high-quality, affordable business services? What about catering? Laundry pick up? Pet sitting? And so on…
- Quality is always an important consideration: Cheaper is rarely better, and you should expect high-quality, ergonomic furnishings. Make sure to closely inspect this, as this is something that can be easily overlooked in the rush-rush of a busy site tour. Coworkspaces may look the same on the surface, but if you’ve bought a house or car you know when it comes to quality, the cheapest option is rarely the best choice. For example, vendors such as Steelcase offer a wide range of high-end options to suit business needs. That’s not to say that you always get what you pay for. There are high-end coworkspaces that are not right for some businesses, and low-end offerings that are perfect for others. Know what you need and don’t settle for anything less. The ROI on paying for the right level of quality is immeasurable but impossible to ignore.
- Finally, when evaluating a coworking site your best bet is to check out the location in person. This lets you get a sense for the culture of the specific space, but it also lets you ask probing questions to see if it’s right for your business.
There’s a lot to love about these spaces. It’s tremendously exciting, and I’m looking forward to helping it evolve.