Co-working spaces are popping up everywhere. Local landlords are re-purposing existing commercial and industrial buildings to create them, while national brands like WeWork are rolling out new locations at a pretty fevered pitch.
Even a portion of Lord & Taylor’s flagship 5th Avenue store in New York City is slated to be changed from retail to a co-working space in the coming year.
What’s a Co-working Space, Anyway?
Co-working spaces are the latest iteration in the shared office space environment that began popping up about 20 years ago.
For startups, GIG economy workers, solopreneurs and small businesses, it can be a great way to have an office presence without the hassle of signing a long term lease or funding the associated build-out costs required for furnishing and equipping your own office.
As more and more folks work independently or remotely, co-working locations fill a growing need for entrepreneurs to have a comfortable, easily accessible workspace to call their own. It’s a definite professional step up from working on your laptop in a coffee shop and provides a break from the isolation of working from home.
Most co-working spaces have a mix of different businesses. But some co-working spaces are targeted toward putting entrepreneurs in specific industries together, like tech. As an example, there’s a co-working space in the town next to me that is geared toward creative businesses and artists.
Pros & Cons of Using a Co-working Space
Co-working spaces provide great flexibility, as you rent only what you need, when you need it. And you can easily expand as your business or team grows so you don’t have to lease too much space in order to accommodate growth that hasn’t materialized yet.
It’s a highly competitive market at the moment, so these spaces are usually nicely appointed and come with all the necessary amenities of an office – from desks to coffee bars. And thanks to the competition, there’s probably room for negotiation on the rent.
They generally offer the latest in technology infrastructure, so you can stay connected easily as well.
Another benefit to this type of office space is the opportunity to meet & interact with other entrepreneurs who are sharing the co-working space. Typically co-working spaces are designed on an open plan basis, affording lots of opportunity for interaction, collaboration and possibly some networking with other entrepreneurs.
On the flip side, the open nature of these spaces can afford you very little privacy. So if you’re considering the co-working route, think about how you like to work and how much privacy you need to be productive.
Spend some time in the co-working space before signing up to see how it feels & how others use the space. Always ask about the other businesses sharing the space, so you have a sense of who you will be working near.
For instance, if you’re a writer or artist & the co-working space is geared toward tech startups, you may find it very challenging to work there. You need to consider that in advance.