Traditional office culture no longer revolves around the traditional 9 to 5 working day and has shifted towards a co-working space.
Until recently, people worked either at home or in the office, with very few alternatives in between. This all changed, however, with the advent of the smartphone and near ubiquitous 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity. Workers now have new, more flexible working environments at their disposal, enabled by technology innovations such as virtual desktops and a rise in the number of USB ports.
This demand for agile working has led to the increase of co-working spaces, which offer flexible, reasonably-priced desk space and collaborative facilities.
With nearly 1,000 options in London alone, co-working and shared office spaces, such as the White Collar Factory on Old Street Roundabout, are becoming increasingly popular among small businesses, start-ups, and freelancers.
And their popularity isn’t limited to the capital. Our recent report, Manchester: a Connected Future, revealed that nearly a quarter of tech professionals in the north of the country were keen to see more shared offices, such as Manchester’s Space Port X, available to businesses.
With so many co-working spaces entering the market, it is important that businesses are clear about what they’re looking for in an office. Here is a guide to the main things to consider before choosing a co-working space.
A sense of community
One of the greatest advantages a co-working space can offer is a sense of community. The building will house a variety of companies operating across a range of different sectors, filled with interesting young professionals with their own original and different ideas. The owner of the space can actively encourage networking between these professionals: organising lunches, hosting events each evening, and building communal areas for people to meet after work for (often free) coffees or beers.
Great professional relationships can also arise from working in these spaces. After weeks of emailing a strategic partner, for example, you might discover that they’re working on the floor below you and you can just pop down for a coffee and a chat – as we did!
When on the lookout for a potential new workspace, it’s worth speaking with someone already working in the building to gauge whether or not it offers a community that will benefit your business.
Connectivity is essential
The growth of any business depends on its ability to access the internet. In fact, will cost the average company over £900 for each hour its broadband is unavailable during a working day.
Great connectivity is therefore essential for any co-working space that truly understands the needs of modern businesses. With best-in class connectivity verified by its Wired Certified Platinum rating, Workspace’s Metal Box Factory is a prime example of a co-working space in which significant investments have been made to its digital infrastructure to assure tenants that they’ll have access to secure and reliable internet.
It’s important to ask about the internet and tech services when checking out potential co-working spaces. After all, if its tech support consists of a receptionist pressing the ‘reset’ button on a router, it’s highly unlikely that it’ll meet your business needs.
Facilities and flexibility
As well as providing relaxed social spaces, such as sofas, coffee bars, and ping pong tables, some co-working spaces also offer practical service and facilities that might often be out of a small company’s budget. Examples include postal services, never-ending supplies of coffee, or on-site crèches for working parents (Third Door in London, and Officrèche in Brighton are just two examples of this). Shared office spaces can therefore allow small businesses to enjoy the same benefits as large organisations.
What’s more, by offering different office sizes and flexible month-by-month leases, co-working spaces can accommodate businesses as they grow, allowing them to pay for what they need at any given time. Larger co-working chains such as WeWork can even provide you with a base whichever country you’re working in – I’ve used WeWork in four different countries.
Making a decision on where to locate your office and in which type of building can be overwhelming, but considering the essential factors of community, connectivity, facilities and flexibility can help a business to choose an office space that meets its needs now, and in the future.
William Newton is EMEA director of WiredScore.
Further reading on co-working space
Nominations are now open for the British Small Business Awards, the leading event celebrating the brightest stars in the SME sector. Click here to enter, and make sure you get involved today using the hashtag #BSBAwards. Good luck!