Coworking is becoming more popular than ever. Even during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic when high profile companies were telling people to work from home indefinitely, the coworking market was projected to grow by 1000%. But before you jump onto the bandwagon for shared workspace, there are a few things you should consider.
1. Physical environment
Unlike a private office, a shared workspace will have people. And people are often unpredictable. Depending on the kind of work that they do, the size of their teams, the timezone that they operate in, and so on – every day can be a little different. Some days will be noisier than others so an important aspect to consider is the physical environment. Is there a place where you can go to separate yourself from others if they get a little too noisy? Are there easily accessible meeting rooms or a phone booth where you can take an important online meeting without being disturbed?
2. Location, location, location
Let’s be real. Work is life, especially if you are a founder or a small business owner. Where the office is located can make a huge difference to how you plan your days. Is it close to essential stores and services that you will need to access on a regular basis? Is there parking within walking distance? Is it close to major public transport services? How far is it to the nearest post office or bank branch? Will it be easy for your clients to get to? What other personal commitments do you have outside of work? Will you still be able to make it to that important weekly meeting and then go pick up the kids from dagis?
3. Rental terms
Different coworking providers will offer varying terms of rental that you should be aware of. Some require long-term leases which may be better for more established companies or individuals, while a few offer free space without support to specific demographics as a way to get more foot traffic in the area or to bring attention to the company behind it. In Stockholm at the beginning of 2020, there were over 30 coworking providers so there are many offers to choose from. Be sure to look carefully at the terms and the notice period. What happens if the coworking space undergoes disruptive renovations? Even if you are not able to work during this period, will you be locked into the contract with no immediate way out? How flexible are they willing to be if your company suddenly loses revenue in a situation such as a pandemic?
4. Company values
Who are the people who own and run the company and what are their values? Do these align with what the company stands for? Sometimes the company mission statement and the people behind it don’t quite match up. Some companies have fantastic missions and values but their actions and business decisions speak otherwise. So when a difficult situation arises, who are the decision-makers? What is important for them? And how will the coworking provider treat you as a customer?
With a mature coworking market in Stockholm, each space is now tailored to a different kind of community. You’ll find spaces dedicated to startups, fintech, creative industries, food, music, health, growth and of course creating positive impact which is what we have been focusing on here at Impact Hub Stockholm since 2008. If you are weighing up between renting a private office or joining a community, I would hands down recommend joining a coworking space every time. Consider the benefits of having a network of friends and professional colleagues who you can approach for help when you need customers, tips or contacts. Then multiply that by ten-fold when you join any coworking community. Being part of a community is an effective way to access knowledge and people who you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. But beware – not all “coworking spaces” have a community. You might want to be a little more critical when it comes to places like hotels, restaurants and cafes where people work alongside each other without interacting.
If you’re a frequent traveller or love meeting people in different locations, one factor that might have a big influence over your decision is the reach of the coworking brand. Some coworking providers only have one physical space. Some brands like House Be extend regionally – in this case, throughout the north of Sweden which is fantastic if you like to move around to different places during the seasons. A few brands have a global reach. At Impact Hub, we have developed a community platform so our members can reach out to our global network and get connected with entrepreneurs and changemakers from over 60 countries. Startups have used our network to find investors, international partners, business opportunities, understand market differences, and access funding; while others have taken advantage of our global passport scheme which allows coworkers from any Impact Hub location to work from every Impact Hub space around the world for 3 days, free of charge every single year.
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Cathy Xiao Chen is the Head of Operations at Impact Hub Stockholm. With a passion for supporting social impact, she advises and connects changemakers with collaborators to maximize impact.