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Coworking – just a buzzword?

Workplace
Author since:
October, 2015
86 blog posts

coworking space, also known as a shared work space or proworking, is home to a style of work that involves sharing everything office space related with other people and the costs. When you walk in to one of these spaces you will find people working together on the same desk space but not from the same company. They work side by side on hot desks, reserved desks, or in private offices. Everyone shares the same facilities and has the opportunity to tap in to reception and hosting services, break-out spaces, and coffee areas.  Many of these spaces organise networking events, social events, and support.

 

So why doesn’t everyone join a coworking space?  Although it does have many benefits, coworking is for the many but not for the few. If it is the type of work place for you, it could truly be a lifeline. Coworking is for those who enjoy action, creativity, and an overall lively work venue. Another advantage of coworking — it has adapted to suit solo-preneurs, freelancers, SMEs, and even large corporates!  The types of people you may meet are varied and that is one of the many things that entice people to a coworking space.

 

Many companies in their very early stages benefit from working in a coworking space. They have a community of great resources surrounding them. Not to mention that other co-workers are likely on a similar journey. Corporates with smaller teams spread through the country or the world like coworking spaces for the shared amenities and additional activities that promote well-being. Additionally, most coworking spaces come with a host, someone who runs the space and facilitates introductions with other co-workers. In a nutshell, coworking is great for those eager to immerse themselves in a vibrant community to expand both their personal and professional networks.

 

WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?

Community

One of the main reasons people choose coworking rather than working from home or a coffee shop is the interaction with other human beings it provides. Within a communal workspace, there are many opportunities to reach out and network with the great minds surrounding you. Working on your own or remotely can be lonely and coworking is certainly a cure for loneliness.

 

If there’s someone you’d like to meet or do business with, you can find them here and plan to make an introduction. If you need a developer, a content writer, or a graphic designer, they may be sitting just a couple desks down from you, and, often, they are more than willing to help!  And opposite to this they may also need your services and provide and income stream for you.  Take advantage of these opportunities sat right next to you.

Business Support

In addition to this the hosts and owners and people around you are a great resource for help. Be it how to use a programme on your computer, where to eat or how to sort out your VAT bill.  Another huge benefit of coworking is the different events that are offered to members. The frequency of events will vary from space to space. Having easy access to these support events is perfect for expanding your experience and network!

Although coworking does offer members a community, socialising isn’t compulsory. People are not forced into social situations. Rather, co-workers can choose when and how they would like to network with other people. If someone is in the mood to have a chat, for instance, they can easily do so in the kitchen or lounge area. On the other hand, if someone needs quiet, head-down time, they can work from a quiet space, away from other people. It’s all about what YOU want from the space.

 

Flexibility

Coworking offers users flexibility. Coworking, as a concept, was set up to understand that businesses may look very different every six months, particularly in their very early stages. That’s why most coworking spaces offer more flexible terms with short notice periods to allow you to move with the times.  For coworking it is often even more flexible with the option for month only terms or simple day use.

Many coworking spaces allow you to grow within the space. This means they will be there when your team grows larger or reduces by offering you space to fit your needs at this time.

Another way coworking offers users flexibility is through its various office types: hotdesking, reserved desks, and private offices. Private offices within coworking spaces vary in terms of how many people they can hold.  From single use offices upwards are often available if you need to be able to lock your own front door.  These still have all the added benefits of coworking spaces and come with one bill for everything.

 

Personality
Each coworking space you visit will come with its own individual personality.  There are spaces out there for everyone, if you are just out of university and want to carry on the common room feeling or if you are at the other end of the spectrum and are looking for something more established and executive.  There is something out there for everyone, it is just about finding the venue that sits well with your own personality.

 

Shared Facilities 
Starting up on your own and contracting to your own offices comes with a whole list of jobs.  Sorting out rates, telecoms, Wi-Fi, photocopier, toilet rolls, coffee and tea can be a huge task when you want to simply run your business.  Using shared spaces means that all of this is taken care of and at a fraction of the costs as it is split between many users.  Tapping in to this shared economy is beneficial not just on your pocket but on your head space as well.

 

Price
The cost of renting coworking spaces varies depending on the space and the product you’re looking for. Hot desks are the entry point and the least cost for unreserved space.   Once you start to need permanent space the costs can rise for reserved desks and then offices.  Also, costs vary depending on the style and level of service that you are looking for and often the location.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Although coworking is considered a flexible workspace, joining one can still be a big commitment. You should be sure to take the proper precautions when deciding which space is right for you.  The biggest advice is to try before you buy, work from your first choice for a day or a few days to feel what it is like to work there. Here are the five general things to look out for when joining a coworking space: (1) Separation of spaces for quiet work, collaborative brainstorming, and meetings, (2) Coworking personality, (3) Workplace design, (4) Location, and (5) Flexibility to scale up/scale down.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Coworking (and not co-working) is a term that most people have now heard of… and for good reason. Gone are the days of dull offices and grey cubicles where the office was a place you wanted to get away from rather than go to. Coworking and flexible workspaces are here to stay.  They have encouraged most businesses both large and small to view the work place as giving an enjoyable experience and not just as a place to do your job.

Yes, it is definitely more than just a buzzword!

 

To come and try out Workplace book a free day here.

 

 

Up Next

Want to become a freelancer? Five things you should consider.

Workplace
Author since:
October, 2015
86 blog posts

Who hasn’t day dreamed about being a freelancer , going it alone and being your own boss at sometime?  But is removing the security of corporate life everything you are wishing for.  Here are five questions to ask yourself  about freelancing before requesting your P45.

Do you have skills that the market needs?

The first step is to investigate if you have skills that are in demand and companies will pay for. What exactly is it you do and how are you going to create a freelance job title that people will understand?  You also need to consider if you have enough experience as that is what will be paid for.  Being able to create a portfolio or CV of the experience you have is essential.  If you are not starting your life as a freelancer with a client already to work with, think about testing the water and doing some work on the side of your main job to try and test the water.

Cashflow

No matter how cheaply you think you can live or how little money you think you need to start a business you need some.   The thing that stumps lots of people and returns them back to the workforce is the lack of money.  Before you take the leap make sure you have enough cash to keep you going.  If you don’t have enough for 3 to 6 months don’t even, consider it.  Time goes very quickly when you are looking for someone to pay you.

Don’t just think the next 3/6 months think about how much you will need to earn, if for instance you want to get a mortgage or what you will do about a pension.  When you are freelance, all this is down to you and you alone, so it is worth putting some thought into it now.

A quick hour consultation with a business start-up expert or accountant/business advisor will help you to make sure that your plan for the immediate and the future.

Do you have the right personality?

Often, we look at someone freelancing and think that it is so good to be flexible and adventurous with your time.  We often miss out on how disciplined they are in making sure they have enough work to pay a salary.  Some people forget to realise that they need a structure that an employer provides to make them achieve success.  This is no bad thing, but it means you really must consider, if it is all down to you, can you really make it happen.

You are going to be alone a lot – can you do this – do you get your energy from people?  Loneliness can be the biggest downfall of freelancers so make sure you are equipped to cope with this.

You will be your own sales person, worker, accountant, HR manager all rolled in to one person – just you.  Will you be able to fill these roles or are you capable of finding the support around you to act as these roles.

A good thing to consider is where your workspace will be.  Are you ok at home and can you find proper workspace that will not be distracting or are you going to be better leaving the house each day and going to a place of work such as a coworking space?

Can you network efficiently?

As we said above, as a freelancer, you are going to have to be your own sales person and this is going to mean networking.  If this idea sends you cold, then how can you approach networking and be successful and comfortable with selling your skills.  Freelancers who are well connected to others tend to do best. Joining networking groups or enrolling on freelance training courses are a great way of building on your skills, making valuable connections and talking to other people in the same situation.  On top of this there is sometimes free food and drink which helps you with number 2 – cash flow!

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What are your reasons for becoming a freelancer?

Make this clear.  As a freelancer, you will have good days and bad days and through all of that you need to keep clear your reasons for deciding to be a freelancer.   It might have been for a better work-life balance, to choose more meaningful work, to earn more money or the freedom to work from anywhere.  It is always good to have a reminder of why you decided to take the leap.  It will keep you motivated and passionate.

Case Study of a Freelancer – a rough plan is better than no plan.

5 Years ago, Melanie had an intense job managing projects for new hotel builds.  Her role was to set the hotel up operationally.   When the builders moved out, everything from the coffee machine to the maintenance man needed to work efficiently and to budget.  This took many skills including financial planning, recruitment, training, and project management.  She had been doing this for 18 years really enjoyed it.   However, the intense amount of work and the pressure as each project ended was getting more fatiguing.

The part she loved more then anything was training and putting in the development plans for employees, especially the management team.  “I was working away from home at least 5 days a week and often doing 80 hours a week which was hard going” she explained.  “I had a great amount of autonomy to work as I wanted to which I enjoyed but the sheer amount of work was exhausting”.

She started to think increasingly about quitting her job and starting to offer development and training to companies and individuals.  In a strange twist of fate, a supplier at the hotel project she was working on was involved in a project to mentor kids between 14 and 18 in schools to try and ensure they had the motivation to follow a good career path in anything they wanted rather than simply being educated in schools.  This changed Melanie’s motivation as she knew there were lots of management consultants working with large companies and this had always dissuaded her from taking this leap.  Everyone seemed to be getting fed up with their jobs and becoming a consultant.

This led her to formulate a vague plan to target schools and further education colleges.  Working on development skills with students in the same way she had developed senior managers in her work with Hotels.  The supplier she had first discussed this with became her first client and the rest is history.

“I was totally unaware of what a great source of business my existing network would bring.  Although I had thought I would venture outside the hotel industry, and to some extent I have. I am still mainly involved in developing young people and encouraging them to choose hospitality as a career.  This is an industry which is very people short.   It is also an industry where you can join at 16 with no qualifications, work hard, get lots of experience and eventually become the Managing Director of a huge company.  This really excites me, and I am now working with schools, colleges and NVQ students developing this much sort after skills shortage”.

After 5 years Melanie says she has come a long way.  “When I first started I was scared that people would not find my skills useful or would pay for them.  Now I have a one-page standard pitch and I know exactly what projects I want to work on.  This in turns gives me the flexibility I desired and the opportunity to work on only projects that fulfil me.

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