Are you part of the new economy?
Do you no longer have a designated office? Then you have a number of choices.
You can either work from home, find a nice café where you can hog a table all day (and they’ll let you) or find a co-working space.
Personally, I use all three strategies at different moments and different times. It depends on how I feel, what kind of work I have to do and where I’m at in the world.
As a result, I’ve become pretty adept at finding places to work at. For that reason, today here’s an article about choosing which co-working spaces will work best for you! Are you ready for my top concerns?
This goes at the top because it’s both the most important and the easiest to check out. Most co-working spaces do a good job of listing what they do and do not have on their website. And what you can’t work out from there, you can work out from the pictures.
There are nice amenities and vital amenities. Vital amenities are obviously such things as internet stability and speed. You can obviously ask for that, though they won’t always be completely honest about how shaky it is.
For that reason, don’t just listen to what they say as well as how they say it. Do they hesitate before they tell you it’s great? Then perhaps it’s not so fantastic after all.
It’s always a good idea to do a second check in the reviews. Don’t just look at the star ratings (Everybody gives five or four-star ratings most of the time – even if it isn’t completely deserved) but also at the actual words they’ve written. These can give you a good insight into what’s actually going on.
Much harder to see before you get there, but just as important to the amenities is the atmosphere at the place. A co-working space with a good atmosphere can be hugely conducive to your work and can even generate a slew of new opportunities.
A place with the wrong atmosphere, in the meantime, can actually cost you a great deal of your precious time.
Again, you can check the reviews to get an idea of how the people are who work there. Even better, ask people who you’ve worked within the past for their advice.
Often, as you know how they work and what they need, you’ll be able to form a much better opinion than some random on the internet this way.
Security and access
If you don’t want to be lugging your stuff home after every work session, you’ll want to make sure that the security of the co-working space is up to scratch.
This is particularly true for creating a good security system for a co-working space where the people coming and going are liable to change day by day is much harder than in a regular office. For that reason, this is an important area to consider carefully.
Another important question, particularly if you like to work outside of the regular business hours (which I certainly do), is when they will be open. Is it 24/7 or do they close in the evenings and/or the weekends?
I always try to make sure that the places I work at stay open late because I’ve got lots of contacts all over the world who have business hours at different times than I do. Is that true for you? Then that’s important for you as well.
Of course, it’s possible to take your work home with you on occasion, so this need not be a deal-breaker. Still, make sure you pay attention to this.
Where is it?
There are a couple of important facts about the location of your office to keep in mind.
- Are the amenities you need close by? If you’ve got a gym membership, for example, it would be nice if the two of them are close together, don’t you think?
- Is it easy to get to? I prefer it if I can actually walk into the office. If that’s not possible, then a bus or a train that drops me right off will suit me fine. As soon as you expect me to change trains and transport, it’s too far away for me.
- Is it on a major commuter route for lots of people? That can make for an unpleasant commute, as it will mean, no seats, people invading your private space and body odor. Not my ideal morning experience.
- What will your clients think? Of course, this will only matter if you’re going to physically meet people. If you are, make sure that the locale does not reflect badly on you. We’re far more affected by our environment than we may think.
Some places are cheaper than others. Naturally, that will make a difference to your choice. That’s rather obvious. The thing is, there are a lot of secret ways that places that seem to be cheap at first glance will try to raise the prices for you.
For that reason, be aware of hidden costs. These can be all over the place. Do you have to pay for using their meeting rooms? Does printing cost you money? What about coffee and tea? Do they have extra costs for things like security, data usage or accessing the facilities at odd hours?
These things matter in the same way that luggage charges on airplanes matter – they can make places that seem cheaper actually more expensive than a step up. Often, while offering worse services than you otherwise might pay! So yeah, that’s important.
The trial period
Make sure the place has one! It’s important that you can change your mind quickly when you realize the place isn’t living up to your standards. Of course, if you book day by day you don’t need one of these, as then you’ll be okay canceling whenever you want (which, in effect, means your entire experience is a trial as well).
Remember, when we first get to a place we often experience some romantic periods where we interpret liabilities as idiosyncrasies. Be careful in that regard before you sign a longer-term lease at one of these places.
Hearing that dentist’s drill from the next place over, or having to make that extra change in morning transport can become annoying quickly.
Co-working spaces are awesome as they can save you a lot of money and – because you’re working with people from a lot of different places who are doing a lot of different things – inspirational.
At the same time, you’re still on this planet doing things according to the rules laid down by society. That means there will still be things that will not be optimal.
So weigh your options carefully and apply a lot of the same logic you would when getting a space for your company. In that way, you won’t end up choosing something that you don’t enjoy.
Also, don’t be afraid to try a few places on trial before you commit. After all, if they’ve got this kind of setup then why not take advantage of it and find something you really like?