If your small business is looking for a coworking space to supplement your existing office footprint, it’s time to examine some pros and cons. Although this isn’t as serious a decision as leasing or building your own office, it will still have repercussions for your employees.
Love and Hate for Coworking Spaces
Across the web, opinions about coworking spaces vary widely depending on user expectations. Rebekah Campbell, founder of Posse, wrote at length about everything she hated during her foray into the coworking world. In this case, her own expectations weren’t the problem. She assumed the facility would be a place that supported productivity for her employees (which is reasonable). The problem was the fantastical expectations of the “wannabes” who swarmed the coworking space, hoping some real entrepreneurial spirit would rub off on them. She ended up investing in an office space of her own.
Web designer David Brunelle had a completely different experience with coworking. For him, the boundaries and structure provided by having a workspace away from home were enormously beneficial. The social and professional networking environment was also a good opportunity for his business model.
What Should You Consider?
If you are selecting a coworking space to supplement your existing small business office footprint, here are a few considerations:
- Does the culture of the coworking location mesh well with your industry? You don’t want your employees to feel like outsiders. For example, you wouldn’t want to put your creative professionals in a space full of insurance agents.
- How social is the coworking space? Are the networking opportunities right for your workers? If you are setting up spaces for your outside sales teams, will the coworking location help build their business network?
- Will your employees be distracted? Some coworking locations keep a better handle on the noise problem than others. In a particularly busy location, workers may have difficulty focusing due to loud talking, overly social tenants, and other interruptions.
- Is the office furniture of decent quality? You can’t very well have your workers haul their own chair to the coworking location a few times a week just to avoid back pain. If they will be spending more than a few hours a day at the coworking site, the furniture should be mid-grade or higher to support good health.
Many coworking spaces and business centers will offer a short trial period to let business professionals get a feel for the environment. Have employees take advantage of these opportunities and get feedback before making a longer term commitment.