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What makes a good coworking space?

Posted on: 19th October 2022

Reading time:  9 mins

What makes a good coworking space?What makes a good coworking space?

These days it’s safe to say we can finally demote “coworking” from buzzword status as it has been set as an established means of maximising the potential of a workforce or running a startup economically. Covid-19 forced businesses to seriously think about the benefits of permanent offices where everyone has their own desk. Some concluded that it still works for them; others have opted for hybrid working solutions. Coworking spaces have proved to be a viable choice for many businesses, especially those with mainly digital work practices.

To some extent, we’re still in a twilight zone. It’s one thing to have flexible work space needs thrust upon you by COVID lockdowns, but quite another to choose it to empower your team by using a blend of shared office space, traditional workplaces and working from home. Yet that latter choice is being made all around the world.

Rather than asking “Should we bring coworking spaces into the mix?”, companies are now considering “What should a coworking space have?”. If you only have experience in the traditional office where everyone is allocated a desk and your lease contracts are measured in years, it’s a legitimate question, as you’re exploring a whole new philosophy. In this article, we’ll be exploring the qualities of a great coworking space.

1. Centrality

Although hybrid working enables employees to access workspace anywhere, most businesses have a centre of gravity. The ideal coworking location is often one that’s in a city or large town, as it’s much more likely to be connected by multiple means of transport, and be close to beneficial amenities. This central office can act as the location to bring the workforce together, in-person, potentially supported by a network of office space outside of the main business districts that allow hybrid workers to work closer to home.

2. Convenience

When choosing a specific location in your chosen town or city, make sure it is in a convenient location at a postcode level. Examples of good locations would be those close to transport hubs or where there’s an accumulation of other similar or complementary businesses. Not all city centre locations can claim those factors – some places are less connected, or are tied up by traffic problems (especially important if you’re inviting clients to visit).

3. Accessibility for all

Your coworking space needs to be fully accessible for both staff and any potential visitors, in which case accessible entrances, wheelchair access, ease of access for the visually impaired and plenty of places for people to sit down in shared areas are all essential. Secure bike storage, on-site showers and other helpful facilities are always an added plus.

4. In-house and local amenities

Many coworking spaces have vending machines, coffee shops or canteens under their roofs. While these may come at an extra cost, these are all welcome additions for both visitors and staff. As a minimum, there’s almost always use of a kitchen for preparing food, with equipment such as kettles and microwaves. The space may also be located close to shops, cafes, takeaways, parks or bars.

 

5. Connectivity

No digital business should even consider a workspace without ensuring its broadband is up to scratch. It’s important to know how many people you’re sharing your space with, in order to ensure a ring-fenced, dedicated, and guaranteed level of connectivity can be depended upon. And while WiFi is convenient for phones, tablets and laptops, look for Ethernet connectivity, which will always be stronger and more reliable.

6. Calm, productive atmosphere

There will always be those who thrive in a busy, bustling office; but for most people, a sense of tranquillity and calm is much more conducive to high productivity while maintaining good mental health. Places with an organic feel, with plenty of space, large windows, lighting that is effective but not overpowering, and plenty of well-kept plants are often more friendly places to be productive and creative.

 

7. Seating choices

One of the benefits of coworking is that people can form different sized groups; for internal meetings, liaising with clients or simply working alongside other team members on projects. Rigid seating layouts often don’t help with that, and it’s never nice to be asked to move from your station so someone else can sit there. The flexibility to allow furniture to be moved around to accommodate different sized groups, while maintaining access to shared screens and Ethernet sockets is therefore extremely beneficial. Also, consider the different types of seating and desks. A mix of sofas, ergonomic office chairs, breakfast bars, stools, armchairs and standing benches give people the option to work where they’re most comfortable.

 

8. Great management

Knowledgeable, efficient, and supportive management of any office space is essential for success. First impressions can be key indicators for well-organised office management. Well stocked vending machines, clean working areas that are free of litter and facilities that are all in working order are the signs of a well managed office space. Anything less detracts from your ability to work effectively.

 

9. Flexibility and rules

Coworking staff work different hours and have a range of work practices, and the means of doing work changes constantly. How flexible is a space when it comes to opening and access hours? Are there large screens you can use? How many guests can you sign in? Are there rules on bringing dogs or children that could impact certain staff members? If you, your staff or potential visitors have any specific flexible workspace needs, make sure you address these at the research stage.

 

10. Optional private spaces

Coworking spaces aren’t always the most private, usually consisting of large rooms with seating and desks scattered around. And in many cases, you can’t guarantee that your neighbouring worker will be one of your colleagues. You may benefit from alternative private offices and breakout areas, which might be included in your contract or paid for additionally by the hour. These can be great for meetings, interviews, training, briefing and one-on-ones, so are a really handy thing to have access to. Similarly, connected conference rooms, event spaces or meeting rooms can make for a successful coworking space if you're a highly connected business.

 

11. Inspiring architecture

This should probably be filed under “nice to have”, but some coworking buildings just stand out from the crowd and can act as an inspiration to the team, and a confidence builder for would-be clients. It could be something cutting edge and modern, or a tasteful conversion of one of the city’s classic old buildings, but if it makes a positive emotional connection with people, that’s always a good thing.

12. Networking potential

If you like going to team-building and networking events, wouldn’t it be great if every hour you spent in the office was a networking opportunity? That’s the case with many coworking spaces, where there’s an ever-changing mix of your employees, freelancers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers sharing desks, breakout spaces and communal areas. It’s amazing how often a chance conversation with a like-minded coworker leads to long-term collaboration on projects, so if you or your business is the kind that’s always ready with an elevator pitch, look for coworking spaces that have a range of shared space areas.

 

13. Competitive pricing

The cost of office space will likely be a key factor in terms of choice and any business space, whether it’s a traditional office space or some sort of hybrid space, it needs to be cost-effective. Luckily, there are some great deals in the coworking area to help you set up shop in a space that lets you grow organically while only paying for what you need as your business evolves.

 

What do you need in a coworking space?

What’s exciting about many coworking spaces is that they are so diverse, meaning there is something to be found for every business. They come in all arrangements with regard to furniture, payment options and amenities, and they are located in every major town and city all around the world.

As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide which features would best benefit you, your employees and your bottom line, and which could prove to be a distraction. If you’re expanding, exploring new territories or wanting to inject some new energy into your business, the change of scene and ethos you get from flexible coworking spaces can really work wonders.

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