By 2020 it’s estimated that 40% of the workforce will be made up of freelance or independent professionals.*
It’s therefore, no surprise that the number of co-working spaces are increasing. Co-working spaces can be a great option for individuals and small businesses looking to find a vibrant space that will help them keep their costs down.
We regularly talk to businesses who are either considering or are already in a co-working environment. As someone who works in a co-working space, I thought it would be useful to share what I think some of the pros and cons are.
Co-working spaces have been around for over 20 years and are in my opinion an awesome way to harness the buzz of a busy office space, without having to create it all on your own.
The perfect poached egg to a venture capitalist intro
It’s great to be able to put my head down and work hard for a couple of hours and then wander into the kitchen and have a chat with people from other businesses. During these conversations, I’ve talked about everything from the chairs in our work studio to how to poach the perfect egg in the microwave.
Another way that co-working spaces can be awesome is through networking. You get to meet all sorts of different people from different businesses and it’s incredible how many opportunities to collaborate and work together pop up.
These networking conversations can be a real source of inspiration too. Working alongside driven and passionate people is always a great way to invigorate yourself and your team.
Finally, if you’re in a space with lots of other start-ups you may be introduced to, or have networking opportunities with angel investors and VCs. All great perks!
Headphones = Do not disturb
An obvious disadvantage of having a great buzz around the office can be the distractions. If you’re on a tight deadline and need to stay laser-focused, this can be tough in a busy and social space. The workaround here tends to be headphones, which is fast becoming the universal “do not disturb” sign.
Even though this can be the case, everyone gets it and respects when their peers have to knuckle down and focus. There are also some great ‘focus’ playlists out there that have introduced me to a whole new set of great music.
The flexibility to scale up or down
Another great thing about co-working spaces is the flexibility to help manage your overheads. You can generally scale your space up or down, depending on your requirements, and without having the commitment to a long-term lease.
In addition to flexibility of space, you also have access to a range of great shared amenities – cleaners, coffee and tea making facilities and someone at reception to greet visitors.
While all this is great, without your own space you obviously can’t customise and personalise it, especially if you’re hot-desking or in an open-plan office.
Open-plan offices – which are very much the norm now – also lack privacy to make phone calls or have confidential conversations with your team.
However, access to “phone call booths” and bookable meeting rooms solves this and again, everyone is in the same set-up, so people are amenable and get it.
I love co-working spaces and see them becoming more and more prominent in NZ as we continue to reimagine the way office work is done.
In a shared space it’s great to meet different people and hear fresh views and opinions on aspects of your work and the market. Because the range of people around you are so diverse, if you have an open mind you have the opportunity to learn a lot.
When managed well they create a sense of community that I find can be missing in a traditional office environment.
Co-working, of course, isn’t for every business, but if you’re wanting to keep overheads down, have a social environment, but don’t have the scale to do this on your own I absolutely recommend it.
Just make sure you do your research, consider the pros and cons, and find the right one that’s fit for your purpose – there are plenty to choose from!