Many of our well known brands and major companies started their lives in a garage or the back bedroom of a semi-detached. Renting an office space for yourself alone, or even with a small number of employees is expensive. Prohibitive contracts and deposits can be deal breakers. If you’ve done your business plan and cash flow, you will know that spending money on an expensive office base can stretch resources to breaking point. Desks, storage and office equipment don’t come cheap either. According to The Telegraph half of UK businesses don’t make make it past 5 years, a large proportion due to cash flow.
Working from home can be a lonely experience, contrary to natural human need for social interaction. Having the ability to develop quickly with no strings attached is also an essential part of the growth strategy for many small businesses.
Of course, entrepreneurs are at their core creative people
As entrepreneurs are at their core creative people, problem solvers and lateral thinkers, there has been a lot of work around this challenge. The popular solution is to find a cool co-working space that suits you. An attractive and often practical alternative, they can offer more than just a desk. Many come with regular network meetings and social events along with training and meeting rooms for hire.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review “There seems to be something special about co-working spaces. As researchers who have, for years, studied how employees thrive, we were surprised to discover that people who belong to them report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7 point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices.”
So what do you look for in a work space?
It’s a given that co-working spaces have to provide:
- a comfortable working environment.
- fast reliable Wi-Fi ,
- meeting rooms
- social stimulation,
- the opportunity to mix with like-minded people
- and encourage greater productivity for its co-habitants
Co-working spaces can be anything from simply a desk in a corner where you bring your own laptop, to a collaborative space that encourages people to work together by providing meeting rooms training areas and even coffee bars and games rooms; all great ingredients for encouraging people to talk and make contacts.
Really well matched spaces are often about more than proximity to like-minded workers.
They also increase happiness and effectiveness at work. There’s a sense of community and peer-to-peer- learning, and being surrounded by hard working, clever people achieving their own goals is extremely motivating for getting things done yourself. This type of space can become a centre of activity for entrepreneurs.
Additional benefits include increased flexibility due to the lack of the pressure associated with large deposits and a long lease. There’s no need to purchase expensive overheads such as desks, printers or coffee machines etc. And you won’t need to deal with the constant repairs or service fees and office maintenance.
However, it’s not for everyone. You can take the horse to water – but quite often founders don’t speak to other founders. The idea of introducing themselves to a room of strangers fills many business owners with dread. They prefer their own corner and little collaboration is carried out. Also places in the open office where there is the opportunity to talk to fellow workers is often noisy and not conducive to collaboration.
According to Mark Corbett co-founder of Pace Ventures in his article in the Guardian, “Co-working harks back to the coffeehouse environment of 17th and 18th century enlightened thinking. It wasn’t the coffee, just as it isn’t the beer today; it is the community. It’s that magic spark that happens when intelligent, creative people on different life courses come together. Coffee and beer help, but it’s having the right people in the same space and the openness to discuss, imagine, and create that makes co-working special. It is this element that will continue to evolve at the heart of co-working, as providers ask how best to achieve this.”
Larger industries and organisations are beginning to explore the way office space affects business culture and productivity.
Workplaces all over the UK are creating breakout zones and gaming areas, where staff can chill out, chat, and stimulate their creative spark. Google (as illustrated in TheTelegraph article last year) and Virgin are both well known for their recent innovations and KPMG’s offices dedicated community space is “Bursting with engaging multimedia content and creative installations, it provides a space for colleagues, clients and our community partner organisations to find out more about the social mobility and environmental issues we support, the latest volunteering opportunities available and the impact of our work. It is a centre for collaboration used for delivering workshops; holding mentoring sessions; and hosting seminars or receptions.”
These new environments not only affect culture and work force motivation, but in-turn help to improve businesses bottom line. A recent study commissioned by CABE (the Commission of Architecture and Built Environment) found that 24% of people in the workforce felt that the office environment was responsible for the job satisfaction. In addition 91% of senior level managers believe that they directly affected staff performance with staff feeling more engaged.
While co-working, you may encounter useful connections for the future of your business, not to mention some new clients. You will also constantly be surrounded by accomplished individuals who may inspire you and in return you will inspire those around you.