It's official: coworking spaces are the new black

The just released Startup Muster 2016 Report has confirmed a few things about coworking spaces:

  • 44.7% of startups surveyed said coworking had benefited them most since founding (second only to mentoring)
  • 72.3% of startups are using a coworking space
  • 83.6% of coworking spaces offered mentoring services (the biggest benefit to startups overall) so driving big value gains to members that exceed just a desk and chair.

It’s confirmed, coworking spaces are popular and valuable to startups, but whatever happened to just working out of your garage in the early years? Reality is it’s difficult to work, grow your network and be mentored in a solitary serviced office or your garage. Coworking spaces can deliver all of this under one roof.

In the past 12 months, Brisbane has seen at least 10 new coworking spaces pop up with even more emerging in Sydney and Melbourne. Dominant players include

We Work and Stone and Chalk in Sydney, and Little Tokyo Two in Brisbane (a client). Another space with a difference is InterOffice in Sydney (also a client).

“Research has demonstrated  that a combination of good working environments and well-curated work experience is the reason behind why people thrive in coworking spaces”

So what is this wave of new working spaces, what are the benefits and how does it work?

Coworking spaces are more than just rented desk space. Unlike traditional serviced office spaces, coworking spaces are often in large open plan venues, where you can gain inspiration from the person next to you building the next big thing. They come equipped with fridges, microwaves and all those homely appliances you need to make your day more productive.

“They are a community of like minded people, working towards their goals with passion and determination”

They also have meeting rooms that you can book out. As delightful as it is to meet at the local coffee shop or work in your underpants at home, being able to book out a professional meeting room at a coworking space speaks wonders for your business.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT WHEN BECOMING A  MEMBER OF A  COWORKING  SPACE AND WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

  1. Users of the space are members not tenants (in the leasing sense). A lease simply isn’t compatible with the needs of coworking space users. Leases place a large number of obligations on tenants such make good of the premises at the end of the lease which don’t suit the users of coworking spaces.
  2. There will usually be a minimum membership period but after then you are free to leave as you please with minimal notice requirements. 
  3. You are often required to pay for your membership in advance (monthly or fortnightly).
  4. The coworking space will have insurance but it might not cover a member’s equipment.
  5. Members must adhere to the members’ expectations & behavior guidelines. Often this involves:
  • Sticking to the house rules which includes washing up plates and cutlery you use, disposing of garbage in the bin and using resources such as kitchen supplies appropriately.
  • Keeping your desk space tidy and free from rubbish.
  • Not engaging in discriminatory behavior
  • Adhering to the dress code. This usually means no singlets, beanies, open button shits or anything considered offensive.
  • Using the internet provided appropriately.
  • In other words, respect the space and respect others.

6.    One other thing to consider: you may become so entrenched in the entrepreneurial way of life and community you are involved in, that you will never be able to go back to traditional office spaces again. This is a real issue to consider.

Research has demonstrated that a combination of good working environments and well-curated work experience is the reason behind why people thrive in coworking spaces.

Periodically I work out of Little Tokyo Two at a shared desk space and, bias aside, I get real value out of seeing entrepreneurs building their businesses and being able to collaborate with them by offering my own skills. 

If you haven’t signed up to a space yet but think you like the sound of it, we would encourage you to go into a space that takes your fancy and get a tour to see for yourself.