The coworking phenomenon has risen exponentially since 2011. It is estimated currently 1.2 million people use co-working spaces around the world and it’s projected to increase to 3.8 million by 2020.
Spaces range from entrepreneurs who offer co-working to offset their office costs, through to the largest co-working company in the world, Wework with spaces in 22 countries and valued at $US16 billion.
So, what is coworking and is it something you should be considering if you’re a small business or freelancer?
Coworking delivers a working environment as a service. It goes beyond the shared office concept where businesses reside in one location, share reception or communal areas and furnish their own area. Coworking provides all the amenities for you. Usually in an open plan environment, although some places have a mix of private offices and open plan.
When coworking, all you need is your laptop and mobile. You are charged a daily or monthly rate for your desk or office lease. Depending on the space you can be casual, sign up for a couple of days a month through to full time 24/7 access.
There are more than 60 coworking spaces around the country. While most are in main centres (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch), there are coworking spaces in the regions from Dunedin through to Whangarei. Throughout the central North Island we have five in Tauranga, two in Rotorua, one in Whakatane and one in Taupo.
The benefits of coworking boil down to cost, convenience and being part of a community.
For many entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners co-working provides an easy one-stop solution of moving out of the home office.
For a fraction of the cost of setting up your own premises you have access to desk, laser printing, meetings rooms, hi-speed Wi-Fi and great coffee. Security and cleaning are all taken care of for you. And depending on membership or license terms you only pay for the space when you use it.
There is also the community aspect to co-working. Most spaces have communal areas, social events and business training. It removes the isolation you can feel when you work by yourself or from home.
A huge benefit of co-working is the meeting space. It gives you an area to meet with clients and business associates without having to use cafes which can be less than ideal.
Research has also found that co-working can increase effectiveness and energy of users and that you are more productive and have a better mindset when you use the space. Plus, people score work place happiness higher in a co-working environment than a traditional office.
It’s not just digital nomads or entrepreneurs that are using co-working. Corporates with small teams in the regions find it is a fantastic way to have a professional location without the hassle and cost of managing multiple sites across the country.
Co-working isn’t for everyone. If you are thinking about using co-working, try before you buy. Make sure you go several times. Most users of co-working spaces come and go throughout the day so to meet everyone and see how you gel with the other users you will need to visit multiple times.