How to Create a Great Co-Working Space
Co-working spaces are big news. WeWork, the American co-working giant owns over 4 million square metres of real estate global (as of 2018) but they certainly don’t run the show. Co-working spaces are popping up all over the place due to the trends of modern working, including increased remote workers, freelancers and portfolio careers. Co-working spaces were generally developed for the tech industry but the need is broadening so these are our tips for creating a successful space.
Know your market
Some of the most successful co-working spaces have been started by the people who used them and have grown organically. The Skiff, a co-working space in Brighton was started by software developers who needed to sublet some space in their small office in order to pay the bills. Over time they wanted to expand and eventually took over their current premises. They consider themselves to be a community rather than a business and that has kept the desks full. It’s tempting for landlords to convert one office tenancy into multiple desk space lets but people want a sense of community and that’s difficult to create artificially. It seems that professionals prefer to be working with like-minded people so opting for a tech or a creative hub may be a good idea. Not all cities can support this selective space and in cities like Southampton or Winchester, a broader base may be needed.
Design your co-working space for the market
When you start a co-working space your market may have quite high demands from the space. You need to offer them something much better than home. Working from home does have its downsides but if you’re expecting people to part with their hard-earned cash, the alternative needs to offer an inspiring productive environment. Designing your space for a specific sector has its benefits. For example, a light, airy office may benefit the more creative sector but a software developer doesn’t want any glare on their screen. Some industries benefit from a bustling, interactive environment, some benefit from silence. If you plan to offer space for a general market you need to compartmentalise the space.
What to offer
There are essentials that every co-working space must offer including;
- Adequate desks & chairs
- Ample plug sockets
- Impeccable wi-fi (you won’t have tenants for long if the wi-fi is not 100%)
- Toilets – enough to avoid waiting times
- Kitchen facilities – at the most basic, a kettle & fridge.
Successful co-working spaces, however, offer much more. Bearing in mind the community atmosphere that people want, think about how design and facilities can encourage interactions. Think about the following;
- Breakout space – allow people to escape their desks
- A social kitchen – more and more spaces are creating large kitchens which double as event spaces
- Meeting room – can be hired for an additional cost or included in the monthly rate
- Soundproof booths for those sensitive conversations or even to record a podcast
- Equipment – printers, recording equipment, large monitors, and projectors all come in handy and freelancers are always debating whether they can afford to invest
- Speciality desk space – standing desks for example
Listen to your target market and then be really creative in what you can offer. Exceed expectations and you’ll have a busy and profitable co-working space.
Security for your co-working space
Unfortunately, security is a really big issue for co-working spaces. Having different people in and out of a space all day and night leaves the space wide open to criminals. Whereas most office buildings have a few key holders, co-working spaces tend to give access to all their tenants. Depending on the set-up, people may be leaving their, sometimes very valuable, equipment on site. Beyond secure entry to the space, you should consider secure locker space or locks on internal doors. Fingerprint technology is being used in more and more locations and if you are targeting people who are likely to be using very valuable tech you should consider cutting edge solutions.
There are specific laptop lockers on the market with smart trackers which could be a great selling point to those for whom security is vital. It’s becoming more common for large companies to rent desk space in co-working spaces at a more convenient location for their staff to avoid the daily commute. They may well be persuaded if you can offer top-notch security solutions. Remember that security does not just mean equipment. Sensitive documents left around or private correspondence should also be considered. Work out where your responsibilities start and end and make sure your tenants fully understand.