In the cut-throat world of business, people are constantly trying to be one up on their competitors. But can you imagine several start-up businesses sharing the same open space whilst trying to grow? If you’re finding that hard to picture, try picturing your days as a fresher at university. You met all sorts of people in your accommodation and somehow had to peacefully coexist while managing your workload. It wasn’t always easy and you definitely met people you were never going to talk to again (even going as far as actively avoiding some of them around campus) but you were still stuck there for your first year. Many start-ups cut their costs on office space by essentially doing what you did in your first year: they share their office space and try to go about their daily business peacefully.
So why cowork? For a start, London rents are expensive. You can end up paying through the nose while bound in a long lease. Coworking spaces rarely offer long contracts allowing for flexibility while still providing you with meeting rooms, photocopiers etc. However as with university student accommodation, some coworking spaces are better than others. Some may include Wi-Fi in the rent bill while others might not. The same can be said for: computers; storage for important documents and items and free tea and coffee. So it’s definitely worth researching the coworking space before you sign up to it! Some coworking companies even set up networking events, karaoke and training programmes. The clincher is definitely the reduced cost! In the early days of the business you want to appear professional and attract lots of clients while not crippling your profits. It’s the ultimate faking ‘til you make it.
But is the grass truly greener? An obvious negative is the potential for noise from other businesses distracting you from your work. You can’t really control that but if you’re lucky the space comes with a few meeting/quiet rooms. Again something to research in advance! Another drawback is the possibility of theft. While we’d all like to believe in the best of each other, the fact is these businesses need to take their valuables at the end of the day or lock them up in any on-site storage facilities. This may include some valuable, sensitive documents. One of the worst case-scenarios in coworking would be sharing office space with a direct competitor – it would be like breaking up with your flatmate and then having to live with them for the rest of the academic year. Not pleasant. Finally, there have been cases of connectivity issues in some coworking spaces. Imagine losing your connectivity for several hours right before an important business deal. It’s about as heart-wrenching as not being able to submit your coursework, that you’ve just pulled an all-nighter for, for the same reason!
So, it’s easy to see why coworking is becoming more and more popular as a viable alternative to fixed office space or working from home. It’s a very attractive alternative with drawbacks that can easily be minimised so long as you’re sensible.