More and more solo-preneurs, startups and small business owners are swapping working-from-home for coworking.
Australia in particular has seen plenty of thriving coworking spaces popping up in nearly every major city. For good reason too – the benefits of working from a shared space are huge. But how do you choose one that’s right for your business?
Whether you’re looking to venture into coworking for the first time, or are ready to move on from an existing coworking space, here are 8 things to ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line.
Is there parking available? If not, are there good public transport options nearby?
No doubt one of the reasons you wanted to set out on your own is so that you could have a little more flexibility over the hours you worked, and most importantly, the hours you spent commuting.
If you’ve been working from home for some time, you may have forgotten that a long or busy commute gets old very quickly. Ensure your coworking space is easily reachable via public transport, or if you prefer to drive into work each day, that it has onsite parking or plenty of nearby street parking.
If onsite parking is offered, ask whether this is included in your fees, or if it will cost you extra. It also helps to find out whether there are guest parking spots for your clients or staff.
What are the building’s eco certifications?
For those with an environmental conscience, the office’s green certifications will be a major drawcard. If you’re all about minimising your environmental footprint, check the NABERS rating of your building, and ask what other energy-saving features the space has.
These could be things such as recycled water systems, solar power, and lighting that operates via motion sensors or an auto-shutoff timer.
What other kinds of businesses use the space?
One of the huge benefits of coworking is the chance to network with other business owners and small companies, and form mutually beneficial partnerships.
Find out what other businesses are currently tenants of the space, and whether you see the potential to work with any of them in the near future.
Can I do a trial run before committing to a longer contract?
It’s generally a good idea to visit a coworking space multiple times when you’re sussing it out. It helps you determine noise levels throughout the day, and also how long it takes to get there depending on traffic or public transport timetables.
However, this won’t always give you an idea of the overall vibe of the place. Ask if their membership options allow you to sign up for a shorter period of time first, with the ability to extend if you do love the space. Better yet, some even offer a free coworking space trial.
What facilities does the space have?
Coworking spaces should offer you more than a desk and a chair. Check what facilities and features yours offers, including:
- Fast, unlimited, and most importantly, reliable wi-fi (seems obvious, but it’s not always a given…)
- Printing facilities
- Meeting room hire
- Whiteboards or blackboards
- A kitchen and fridge
- Tea and coffee making facilities
- Plenty of indoor plants for air quality
- Lots of large windows for natural light
- Inspiring views
Does the coworking space host any events or workshops you can participate in?
Many coworking spaces in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and other major cities hold regular events at the space to help its tenants network with each other and meet outside business owners. Of course, it’s not all about business either.
Regular social outings help create a more cohesive, friendly and inclusive vibe – the kind you’d enjoy coming to work to every day.
What are the reviews and feedback about the space?
Online reviews are available for most established coworking spaces, so be sure to read them. But of course, don’t just trust one or two good or bad reviews. See if there are any forums or Facebook groups where people have shared their experiences in the space. Better yet, ask around in your circle of friends or business contacts if they’ve used a particular company’s coworking space before.
Does the space fit your aesthetic?
Finally, choose a coworking space that has an aesthetic and an atmosphere that matches your brand’s ethos, mission statement, and image.
If you’re a client-facing business, would you be proud to bring your clients here? Or do you feel as though you’d constantly be apologising with things like “sorry, about the space, it’s just temporary…”