Start-ups need a place to grow, and many are giving up the home office and opting for a more productive and collaborative set-up found in co-work spaces.
The trend for temporary yet fully equipped office space is on the rise. Globally, it is estimated that nearly 1.2 million people will have worked in a co-work space. In Canada, the set-ups come in various forms, from open concept office spaces shared with different companies or simply renting a desk in a quiet building to work at for an afternoon.
But lately, the popularity has been driving specialties to form, offering users even more benefits for using a co-working space. Customers looking to rent space can choose from dedicated private offices, technology centers, and even spaces that include access to common software programs and resources used by competitors in the industry.
Alyssa Perron, ReSource Coordinator at ReSource YYC, associates the recent rise of co-work spaces to the economic downturn affecting the energy sector.
“In Calgary it’s up-and-coming, there are tons of co-working spaces and tons of options as each one has their own niche,” said Perron. “It's becoming more popular.”
In most co-work spaces, users can subscribe to a membership to gain access to a personal office, or they can drop in for a pay-per-use rate. Aside from economic factors, the rise in popularity could be as simple as the human craving for interaction. Shared workspaces have been noted as bringing entrepreneurs and freelancers together under one roof, giving them access to some of the benefits of a typical office environment as well as a sense of community.
“For entrepreneurs, they have all the resources they need. But the one thing they can’t access on their own is peer group support,” says Perron. Every week, members of ReSource partake in Beers with Peers, a networking event held in their offices. “All active members come out for the communication. If they have questions about a project and they need advice, they can get it.”
Of course, the basics are met, too. Each co-work space is usually equipped with business-grade Wi-Fi, conference rooms for meetings or client presentations, printing services, and communication tools such as phones, faxes, and even post boxes.
In addition to the perks of community, desk space, and access to fancy coffee machines, co-work space users are often more productive. According to a recent Harvard Business study, sitting beside a productive person can improve your own work quality. The experiment found that when productive workers were seated next to quality workers, there was a 13% gain in productivity (speed of work) and a 17% gain in effectiveness (fewer unresolved tasks).
When seeking out a shared office, keep the following in mind for the most efficient workspace:
Ideal lighting: Choose a desk next to a window if you can for access to natural light or consider installing natural light bulbs near your work station. Look for a co-working office that offers light, airy spaces and non-distracting décor.
Appropriate noise level: Everyone has a different tolerance to noise, and for some, too quiet is just as distracting as too loud. Part of the appeal of co-work spaces is the chance to be around other people, but unlike your neighbourhood coffee shop, there are designated quiet zones and respect required for fellow workers. Balance your needs accordingly or look for a space that allows you to move around depending on your mood, work requirements, or the office’s capacity.
Access to refreshments: Almost all co-working offices offer a fully equipped kitchen with amenities like microwaves, toaster ovens, and espresso machines. Some even offer unlimited coffee or alcoholic beverages. Whatever best fuels your creativity should be easily accessible, wherever you choose to work.