By Lisa Carroll, Head of Club, WORKSPACE
Moving your business from your home into its first office space is an important moment for any entrepreneur. The step often comes at a crucial time for the business; it is likely that it will have seen some exciting growth that will push the enterprise onto the next level.
Knowing when to move is a hard-enough decision, and the long-term and upfront costs associated with leasing office space can make the jump into a formal working environment feel daunting. Co-working spaces offer businesses access to a variety of professional working environments and all the services that a growing company requires without the commitment and long-term costs associated with leasing traditional office space.
At Club WORKSPACE, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits a well-designed, collaborative and connected space can have on a business. As one of London’s largest and most established networks of co-working spaces, we’ve witnessed the explosion of new options across the capital in recent years. More choice is undoubtedly a positive, but it can also make finding and selecting the right environment for your business more complicated.
There are five important considerations that I would advise any entrepreneur to take note of when selecting a co-working space.
Firstly, culture and working style are critical. Each space hosts its own unique microcosm of professionals and businesses, which creates a distinct culture. When shopping around for your first co-working space, find an environment that hosts a diversity of businesses which complement your own enterprise. To truly understand the environment and how it evolves through a working day, you should trial your new space for the day – or, at the very least, a few hours – before you sign on the dotted line.
Next, the design of the space is all important. The layout, noise and décor will all have a direct impact on employee satisfaction and productivity. For example, environments that offer well-designed breakout spaces are more likely to encourage collaboration, whilst dedicated team rooms can drive efficiency amongst your workforce.
Co-working spaces that foster a community are generally preferable. Instead of chance meetings these centres go one step further to support the development of relationships between businesses in each space. At WORKSPACE, we provide regular workshops and events. These offer our businesses access to experts who can advise on all aspects of growing and running a business – for example, boosting your cyber security, effective negotiating skills, and tax and accountancy. These workshops also serve to bring professionals together, build new connections and drive collaboration amongst our wider community of over 4,000 businesses.
The fourth consideration is the connectivity your new office space provides. The speed of the available broadband is important, but you should also ask about the levels of resilience and back-up services in case of service disruption. Finding a space that has a WiredScore certification, which confirms that a building provides leading-edge digital infrastructure, should provide an extra level of reassurance that your business will not be undermined by connectivity issues or interruptions.
Finally, I would advise businesses to think long-term. It is crucial to not only consider what will best suit your business now, but to find an environment that will support you through every stage of your growth. For some businesses co-working will be a permanent solution whilst others will transition to taking flexible office space, so it is worth finding a provider that will allow you to upgrade and expand as your business needs evolve.