Kenny Kane is the Chief Operating Officer at FIRMSPACE.
In a recent survey by JLL, only 4.9% of office workers said they would be comfortable with exclusively working from home in the future — but many companies are still waffling about whether it’s worth revamping their old space setup to meet today’s new public health mandates.
In between these two options, there’s a range of solutions, and one of them is transitioning your team into a coworking space. For some business leaders, this flavor of office space rental may seem unappealing. It’s reasonable to be concerned that this shift might require sacrificing the basic comforts (and privacy) that you may have taken for granted in your former offices.
But as the head of one of the various coworking spaces available today, I know it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five things to consider when evaluating a coworking or shared office space to ensure you’re signing on for the experience you and your team need to accomplish deep work.
1. What is your first impression of the space?
You’re paying to rent what’s probably a fully furnished coworking space. As part of this agreement, you’re paying for a specific experience for your team and for your guests (even if they may not be lining up to meet in person today).
The first impression your coworking space delivers matters. From the lobby to the elevator to the reception desk, each element will construct your daily experience and impact your guests’ impression of your business.
It’s not overly superficial to feel uncomfortable with the decor or the type of music being piped into the reception area. If you don’t want any music or the visual noise of pop art, that’s OK — the first impression matters. When evaluating whether a coworking space is right for your needs, don’t overlook this part of the experience.
2. Does the workspace facilitate business development in the ways you need?
Are you looking for an office space where you can meet like-minded entrepreneurs who are also starting businesses or getting established in your community? Or, are you looking for a place to get work done that’s not your house? Perhaps you just need a place where you can host occasional meetings and privately confer with clients.
There are coworking spaces on the market that are designed to facilitate each of these experiences, and wherever you fall on this spectrum, it’s likely that you can directly tie each of these needs to your business development plans. It’s critical that you find the right fit.
For example, if you’re looking to increase your revenue by going to a private office suite where you can get focused work done outside your home office, a space that’s designed for open networking won’t help you increase your revenue.
Be sure to think deeply about why you want to go to the office and how the coworking space you’re considering will support you and your team’s needs.
3. Does the workspace meet your security standards, physical and digital?
In light of Covid-19, everyone is rethinking what they need in a workplace, and coworking spaces around the country quickly adapted their spaces and security requirements to ensure that those who wished to continue visiting their spaces could do so in a safe manner.
But that’s not the only kind of security that you should consider when choosing your next coworking space:
• Do you have protected access to your office space?
• Is your digital connection secure? Is your internet connection protected from that of guests and other members?
• How do guests access the building, office floor and facilities?
These may sound like the questions of an anxious executive, but they’re practical. Every coworking space should answer these to your satisfaction.
4. What exactly are you paying for? Consider the necessities and the perks.
Some coworking spaces will add charges to plug in your phone. Some require that you pay for parking separately; others include a certain number of available guest spaces in their contracts.
From free snacks to cold brew on tap, each of these items adds up over time. If you don’t plan to snack in the common areas or drive to the office, you may not want to pay for a space that includes these perks.
As you consider what the add-ons and available amenities you need and want are, be sure to ask about the infrastructural elements of the experience to ensure that you’re not overpaying for an experience you don’t need or want.
5. Do the terms of your lease align with your business plan?
In this volatile economy, it’s especially important to ensure that you’re signing an agreement for a coworking space that fits within your business plan for the next year and five years into the future.
The terms of your agreement should provide the stability or the flexibility that you need. Perhaps you are looking for six months of coworking for now. Maybe a two-year license agreement would be a better fit for your well-funded enterprise.
Look for a lease that has the features and terms that you need for your current outlook. There are a variety of options to choose from, and you shouldn’t sign any agreement that doesn’t align with your business plan.
A short-term lease still requires consideration.
Whether you’re looking for privacy or social activity, flexibility or stability, take the time to shop around until you find the coworking space that will increase your business potential and the value of the work you do. With all the flavors of coworking space on the market today, you shouldn’t settle for a shared office space that doesn’t quite fit your needs.
Where you sit down to work each day has a tangible impact on your focus and the quality of your work. So, don’t settle for less than the space you envision for your business.
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