How Do I Choose the Coworking Space?

With so many options available, it is important to determine what space will be most effective for your your company, staff and customers.  A few important considerations when selecting an office space:

1.      Location:

Location is extremely important when deciding where to work.  When you are a small business time is valuable for you and your customer.   Do you need to be close to your customers, or do your customers need easy access to visit you?  Downtown locations are great for interacting with corporate clients, but parking may be a big consideration.

Access to amenities like restaurants and shops may be an influencing factor and in a city like Calgary, the ability to use the indoor +15 network is a huge benefit on cold winter days.

2.      Culture:

A great coworking space has a community of like-minded people which is one of the primary reasons to join a coworking space.   Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs who are facing similar opportunities and challenges can bring a collaborative atmosphere to small companies that would typically be struggling in isolation.  When you are surrounded by interesting people, it is inevitable that there will be innovation and collision of ideas.

Every coworking space will have a culture even if it is not explicitly defined. Some are full of young entrepreneurs who are trying to build the next “unicorn”, while others may have experienced professional who have an established business.  Even if you have a completely different business, it is important that you have a sense of connection with the other members in the space to get the most value from a coworking space. 

Networking and events are a big reason why people choose a coworking space.   These is a chance to interact with the other members, guests and public and become an integral part of the culture.  One space may have yoga classes, whereas others may have weekly “beers”.   It is important to find a community that adds the most benefit to you and your business.

3.      Work Environment:

The work environment is what can really differentiate coworking spaces.  Some are “socially” inclined with entrepreneurs working collaboratively in open coffee shop atmospheres, while others have more private offices that allow individuals to work independently.  

It is important that you understand how you perform effectively and then find a proper coworking space match.   Perhaps you work better in a busy and active environment that allows you to interact with others, or conversely, you require a private non-disturbed office with no distractions.   Also, if you are on a team that needs to work together, then coworking spaces that have rooms for teams to work and meet will be important.

4.      Services & Infrastructure:

Every company needs different services to be successful.  At the minimum, Coworking Spaces offer a place to sit and connect your laptop to Wi-Fi.   After that, the services vary and may be a deciding factor in deciding where to be a member.

Some of the services that may be important to your business could include paper printers, 3-D printers, plotters, mail service, receptionist, meeting rooms, software access and more.  For start-up companies with limited resources and cash-flow, coworking spaces offer access to big-company services at affordable prices.

5.      Amenities:

Just as business services are important, the other amenities that are included may make a coworking space right for you.  Most spaces have the requisite coffee and tea, but others will offer pop, beer, coolers and more.  For entrepreneurs who spend long hours at the office, these benefits are very important.   Along with this, social spaces with comfortable furniture, games and TV can be a great way to relax with your friends and coworkers.

If your personal health is important to you, try to find a coworking space with ergonomic furniture and chairs.  Also, many spaces will have fitness centers available for the members.  It is an expectation that entrepreneurs will work long hours, so it is important to find a coworking space that can provide amenities to integrate some healthy work-life balance where possible.

6.      Security:

The security of each building and location is different.   Before choosing a coworking location, assess what your personal and business security requirements are to determine if the coworking space is adequate.  

If personal security is important, then ensure the coworking space is in a safe neighborhood that will allow you to work late without fear of leaving in the dark.  Will your customers feel safe coming to meet with you?  If your equipment and assets are valuable, does the office have adequate security both during the work day and after hours.

7.      Cost:

One of the primary benefits to coworking spaces is the ability to control your cash flow through the size of desk or office space you need, and the level of commitment that you have to make.  Most spaces will offer a variety of cost structures based on the size of desk or office you require, how many people will be working with you, and how long you want to commit.

For growing companies, coworking spaces may offer the ability to start small and grow into more desks or larger offices.  If you can, find a space that has the capacity to let your company scale up.  Starting at one-day drop-in rates, to a full year commitment, you should be able to tailor and adjust your costs appropriately to match the cash flow of your company.

Tour, Try and Commit

Just as you want to find the best office, most coworking spaces want to attract members that are compatible with their space and culture.    Take the time to research and narrow down the potential spaces based on your needs.   Once you have determined the options take the time to tour them in person.  DO NOT pick a space without looking at it.

If you think you’ve found one or two spaces that might work, then try them out.  Most coworking spaces with offer a free or discounted trial day to check it out.  Take the time to talk to other members of the space and attend a networking event.  You will learn more from your time in the space than reading about it.

Once you have chosen a coworking space then commit.  You chose the space because of the work environment, community and culture that will benefit your company so to get the most value you will have to be a contributor as well.   Attend the networking and social events to get to know the other members as you may find that the best business development efforts you can do happen over beers with your peers!

Ron Bettin is an entrepreneur and a Co-founder of ReSourceYYC, Coworking Space for Professionals in downtown Calgary.  ReSourceYYC is part of the Calgary Coworking Alliance, which is an association of independent coworking spaces dedicated to working together to promote the coworking concept in Calgary, showcase the diversity of our spaces and deliver a greater experience for small business owners.