What is a Coworking Space Anyway?

Are you confused by the various office options that are offered in the market today? The word coworking is commonly misused by people who typically use it as an ‘umbrella’ to describe all office options such as business centres, incubators, accelerators, and more.   

The basic differences workspaces and programs

As more individuals and companies are considering coworking as an option to traditional office leases it is helpful to understand what the various options are.

1.      Shared Office

A Shared Office is when more than one company or individual pool costs and resources to work together in the same space.  Amenities tend to be very specific to the needs and funding of the participants.

2.      Coworking Space

A Coworking Space is where a group of like-minded professionals or individuals work in a common space and have access to peer groups and resources.  These spaces usually have a combination of shared open working areas and individual offices. Coworking tends to include a range of amenities and an emphasis on networking.

3.      Business Centre

A Business Centre is place where individuals or businesses can rent offices or rooms for meetings.  Services are provided for a fee and there is not much emphasis placed on networking or collaboration.

4.      Makerspace

A Makerspace is a collaborative work space for making physical items.  Makerspaces cater toward individuals and entrepreneurs who benefit from shared equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, cnc machines, soldering irons and even sewing machines.

5.      Incubator                         

An Incubator is generally a coworking space with programs specifically designed to support early or pre-revenue entrepreneurial companies.  Incubators offer support that includes office space, capital, legal support, coaching, common services, and networking connections.   Most incubators focus on a specific market or vertical.

6.      Accelerator                               

An Accelerator is like an incubator but is focused on revenue generating companies who are looking to grow their company in a short period of time. Accelerators usually have structured programming that requires a formal application process to join a cohort.  Many incubators provide support in exchange for equity and access to growth capital.

What is the right for your business?

If you are entrepreneurial or have a business that could benefit from being part of something better than your basement you should carefully consider the many options that are available to you.   The stage of your company and the support you require will determine what type of space you should be looking for.

Early stage and growth companies can benefit immensely from working in a space with like-minded peers and programming that is available.   Take some time to research what is available in your area and go check them out.  If it is a coworking space, they will offer a free or discounted trial day to check it out.  Incubators and Accelerators will have experts to talk to and events to learn more about the fit for your company.

Small Businesses have a high probability of failure, so it is important to find every advantage you can to increase your odds of survival.  Choosing to align yourself with like-minded peers, successful mentors and programming support that enables your progress forward is a great way to ensure that your business is a success.

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.