The concept of a shared office space is not a new one; SMEs, entrepreneurs and freelancers have been reaping the benefits for years. But with their popularity quickly on the rise, competition is growing and people who are in the market for a commercial office lease are able to be more selective with where they choose to set up shop. If making the shift to a co-working space is something you’ve been thinking of, you should know that not all offices are the same and there are a few things you should be on the lookout for. Have a read of our hot tips to help maximise your shared office space experience.
Like any investment regarding property, location is key. What kind of image do you want for your business? Does the location fit that image? What other businesses are operating in the area? Also, your space should be easy to find and access. Clients will want to dig up as much information on you as they can, and Google Maps helps them fill in the blanks. If your location doesn’t align with your image or isn’t central to an ideal business hub, you could be handing potential clients straight over to your competition.
Get an itemised breakdown of exactly what you’re paying for and seek out any hidden costs. Leasing a space that has everything you want and need, such as kitchen area, internet, cleaning services, coffee machines, a meeting room, and printing facilities is great. Just ask upfront to find out what’s included, what’s not and how much you need to pay to use these facilities.
Remember, this is a place where you’ll be meeting clients, so it should look neat and professional and be a reflection of your company image. Faded signage, dirty windows and worn-out structures are all things that your client will notice, and hanging out in a daggy looking office all day isn’t exactly conducive to a positive and productive work environment either.
One of the reasons a shared office space is so appealing to entrepreneurs and freelancers is because of the flexible renting options not available in a conventional office rental. Find out if the contract stipulates any minimum-term arrangements, and make sure your agreement allows you to upgrade and/or exit easily. Flexible working hours are just as important; does the space allow for round the clock access? And if so, make sure that there are plenty of security measures in place to help keep you safe in those late night hours at the office.
Unlike a private office setting, you don’t get to choose who else is sharing your immediate workspace. Your co-working neighbours can make all the difference in your everyday experience, so find out what other businesses are sharing the space. What kind of atmosphere do they bring? Is there anyone who is your direct competition (which could be awkward)? A co-working space is the perfect environment for networking and collaborating, so look for any potential opportunities within the shared space.
Most providers will offer different levels of services; generally, the more you pay, the more you get. Some basic facilities to check for include any of the following:
- Desk space
- High-Speed Internet
- 24-hour access
- Conference room
A conference/meeting room is a must! You need a professional space to meet clients, take a call, or talk to co-workers, as you don’t want to have to go to a café or chat to someone in a corridor. Most people are fairly informal these days. But, a presentable room that allows for privacy is a professional touch that can make all the difference to closing a deal.
There are numerous advantages to using a shared office, but ultimately a co-working space should be a haven of productivity, inspiration and happiness. Doing a little bit of research before you sign the contract could save you disappointment down the track. Further, it will ensure that your co-working companions are the right fit for your business.
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