Over the past decade, coworking (which was not even a word a generation ago) has become a popular option for many startups and other small businesses. Sharing a space with other companies offers young firms benefits - such as reduced costs, in-place technical infrastructure, and social opportunities - but it also has its drawbacks, such as reduced privacy. While most folks considering coworking spaces for their ventures are aware that they need to consider the aforementioned and many other factors, there are some important aspects of coworking environments that often go overlooked during the decision-making process. I recently spoke with Morris Levy, CEO of multi-city coworking space provider, The Yard, about some of the items one should ponder. Here are some highlights:
1. How long has the coworking space provider been in business, and what does its future appear to be?
Because of the popularity of coworking, there are now many firms offering coworking space. Understanding which firms have proven track records, and which are expanding versus contracting, can help you feel more secure that you will not need to find a new home for your business in the short term.
2. What times of day are you most productive?
Do you need a 24x7x365 workspace or one that is open only during business hours? What services will you need during non-standard hours - and will they be available then?
3. Will you be meeting with prospects and clients in your office?
Is the coworking space conducive to meetings? Are there sufficient conference rooms to ensure that you will always have adequate space? Will prospects and clients be impressed with the environment - or will they find it to be a turn off?
4. Do you need printing services - and, if so, what types and how much?
Be sure to ask about the amount of printing credits or discounts that the coworking space will provide you at local printers before signing a lease - you don't want any nasty, expensive surprises.
5. Are the coworking space's owners/managers actively involved? Are they available to tenants?
In general, the better access that you have to the folks in charge the more likely it is that any issues that may arise for you will be resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
6. Will you always be in one location, or do you need access to office space in multiple locations within your home city or in other cities while traveling?
Be sure to understand to what remote arrangements your local rental entitles you - whether at locations under the same brand or at those offered via partnerships.
7. What kind of on-site resources does the coworking space provider offer?
What technologies are available to you? How many people are there to assist you if you have issues? Know the number of community managers, receptionists, and tech support personnel, both on-site and remote, who are dedicated to helping you during the day and off hours. Understand how many other people work in the space - so you understand the ratio of helpers to people who may need assistance.
And I will add one more point of my own...
8. How well does the provider secure the technology infrastructure that you will be using?
Find out about the cybersecurity practices of the coworking provider. You want to make sure that using its infrastructure will not put you and your business at risk.