Is a Coworking Space Right for Your Small Business?
- Coworking spaces are making it easier for businesses to reduce costs.
- Small businesses can reduce time to on-board employees.
- Apart from a better work-life balance and reduced commuting time, small businesses are also tapping into the large array of membership perks that coworking spaces have to offer.
In just the past ten years, the world has seen a huge increase in coworking spaces that foster locally-founded businesses and support local entrepreneurs through networking events, collaboration opportunities and more.
These spaces are essentially open-office concepts that have no permanent residents. Instead, they can be rented out on a daily, weekly or monthly basis by small companies or individual freelancers. This model lets independent-minded professionals work together in a setting that fosters creativity, rather than alone at home, or in the coffeeshops that freelancers are known to inhabit.
By renting out space at a relatively low cost without the long-term lease agreements of true office spaces, coworking spaces let small business owners and independent workers stress less about the financial impacts of renting space than they otherwise would. Early coworking businesses guessed that this would appeal to independent workers and small businesses – and they were right.
With over half of the entire United States workforce projected to be freelance workers by 2027, the demand for blended social and professional spaces is likely to increase. But these spaces aren’t just empty rooms that let people come together to work. There are many other fantastic benefits that most coworking spaces offer to small businesses that those companies may not realize exist at first glance.
Easy onboarding for remote workers
Coworking spaces can help small businesses dramatically decrease the amount of time spent onboarding new employees while still getting those employees integrated with the company. When small businesses communicate directly with coworking spaces to get desks prepared for incoming employees, there are a few major processes that can be more efficient, including:
- Time spent onboarding: In an age where onboarding can take up to three months, finding ways to minimize that process without increasing employee turnover is more important than ever. In the past, tech companies would have to spend a significant amount of time ensuring that security measures and apps used company-wide were properly installed on employee computers, ranging from secure communication channels using company VPNs to VOIP-activated phones.
- Desk amenities: Employees need some accessories for their desks to make work more productive. Designers and coders need large computer monitors, and data analysts will need prioritizing, high-speed internet to ensure the data they are working with gets transferred accurately. Coworking spaces generally come with these as options for workers leasing the space. As long as companies communicate directly with the owners of that space when a new remote worker is coming to work, they’ll be able to efficiently set up these systems to allow workers to get started smoothly.
Freelance and remote workers often have a hard time separating their home life from their work life, since so much of their work is done in a home setting. Experts think that clearly delineating these two facets of life is the best way to create a healthy lifestyle.
Coworking spaces offer workers the chance to completely separate work from home, ensuring that professional work stays in the office while workers are there. Incidentally, this can also help small businesses with information security as workers who spend time in an office are less likely to send sensitive information over a less secure internet connection.
Employees spend an astounding 200 hours commuting to work each year on average. This time isn’t counted as work and certainly can’t be counted as rest time at home, but it can be mentally taxing for employees. Many employees cite long commute times as the main reason for re-entering the job market, meaning that small businesses may lose valuable employees if commute times aren’t considered on a regular basis. Coworking spaces can offset that commute time issue in a few different ways:
- Central location: Most coworking spaces are found in city centers or in hubs distributed throughout a city. This allows employees to easily get space without a small business needing to foot a year-long bill for expensive floor space.
- Distributed work: It’s quite possible that not all employees live in the same area. Coworking spaces wherever these employees live can provide a fantastic alternative that can reduce commute time, even if all employees aren’t sharing the same office space.
- Rest and relaxation: Less time spent commuting can help employees get more rest – a facet of life that’s been proven to seriously increase work productivity.
As coworking spaces become more common, they inevitably compete. The competition leads to increased incentives for employees to work there that aren’t just lowered leasing prices.
While small businesses may not be able to provide direct benefits that compete with those offered by multibillion-dollar companies, the perks that can be offered through competing coworking spaces can be seriously enticing for remote employees. Some of these perks can include:
- Free caffeine: Most coworking spaces offer coffee and tea in the morning for workers. Sometimes there’s even kombucha on tap!
- Secure storage: In cities that have issues with bikes getting stolen, coworking spaces often offer secure bike lock rooms, and usually have other storage spaces for goods distributed by companies that inhabit the workspace.
- Fitness incentives: Some coworking spaces offer discounted or free fitness memberships to local gyms. Especially fancy spaces have gyms built into the space, usually on a separate floor.
- High-quality office gear: Some coworking spaces invest in office equipment that huge corporations would likely cut costs on. High-quality printers, high-speed internet and soundproofed conference rooms are the norm in these spaces. Other quality-based perks include things like ergonomic keyboards or 4K monitors that can be used for creative design work.
Some companies see increased demand for employees at certain times of the year. In particular, companies that provide creative goods will generally see an uptick in demand around holidays. Other companies may see regional demand increase in areas where the company is not established. In both cases, coworking spaces provide a method for employees to get to work quickly in new areas.
Because small businesses don’t need to pursue long-term leases and only need to pay for desk space for just the number of hired employees during the short-term demand, these spaces can actually reduce costs associated with hiring temporary remote workers of any age. This lets companies scale at a faster rate than would traditionally be possible, freeing up resources in both physical space and finances to recruit better talent from around the world.
It’s not a coincidence that remote work is so often talked about when coworking spaces are mentioned. That’s because these two factors working in conjunction allows companies to recruit top-tier talent no matter where that talent is. There are a few unique ways that these spaces help small businesses with talent acquisition:
- Specialist incentives: Some small companies require highly-trained specialists to develop their products. But these companies might not be able to offer those specialists the same salary or benefits that huge corporations might. However, if a company can offer a semi-permanent workspace conveniently located near that specialist’s current home, the demanded salary and associated costs suddenly become less of a worry.
- Networking: Experts agree that technology specialists, writers and creatives in the media space are all fantastic candidates for remote work – at salaries that small businesses can afford. For these types of employees, coworking spaces can offer other opportunities. Networking events are held regularly in these spaces, allowing remote workers to bring in new remote talent to small companies without breaking the bank on job advertisements.
As coworking spaces become a central part of the business world, small businesses should seek to understand how they can be used in positive ways. From the many perks included with desk rental at these spaces to the potential for acquiring high-quality talent, many facets of daily small business life can be improved quite dramatically.
While these spaces may not be suited for every business – for example, high-throughput manufacturing companies would not find much use in a tech-oriented space – the vast majority of businesses may see these become a staple in their business models soon.