Co-working has exploded in recent years and shared workspace is now a very viable option for small businesses and start-ups alike. But some companies and founders remain unconvinced that a shared space is any better than homeworkers occasionally meeting at the local coffee shop to bag some free WiFi.

Here’s 10 reasons why your company should try using a shared office space that you might not have considered:

1. IT’S FLEXIBLE

Ok, so it might not be as flexible as your kitchen table, but it sure is cleaner. If start-ups have one thing in common it’s that they change all the time. As someone who has worked for start-ups and small business for 5 years, I know how much flexing they do. And no, I don’t mean we’re all wellness freaks. When you work at a start-up, next year is always a hazy blur until it comes around. The dream is to grow your business, the reality is sometimes you need to contract. Either way, co-working space offers flexibility. Contracts are usually month by month and most places offer the opportunity to scale up to a private space when necessary. That beats the 10 year lease on the corridor above a coffee shop in Shoreditch any day!

2. IT HELPS WITH STAFF RETENTION

It’s not always easy for start-ups to retain staff. People work long hours, usually for less money than the equivalent corporate job and they probably don’t get a lot of face time with the boss, especially if they’re working remotely. Joining a co-working space can’t fix everything, but it can give staff an awesome network of people to work with and socialise with. If you find the right space, you can also offer staff a bunch of value adds from free yoga to an unlimited supply of cookies. Who could want more?

 

3. YOU GET FREE ADVICE

Now i’m not saying that you’re going to join a co-working space and suddenly have 10 people offering to mentor you in that next investor pitch, but you do have a community to help you and mostly, that help is free. Just speaking to people in the kitchen over a bagel can help you get clarity on that big project you’ve been working on, or another founder’s horror story might help you to correct a problem with your product before it becomes a major issues. Whatever it might be, you’re going to have conversations, and ultimately, conversations are where ideas form!

4. YOU CAN SAY GOODBYE TO OVERHEADS

This one is for those of you tied into 10 year leases. Business rates and IT costs are way too real. Oh, and don’t get me started on servicing the printer. By taking a shared space that offers inclusive business rates, an IT support service and free printing, you bypass those monthly bills you didn’t see coming until the toner runs out. Plus, you don’t have to think about security, electricity bills and making sure you get your microwave PAT tested every year. I know, you’re welcome!

 

5. YOU CAN HAVE THE COFFEE MACHINE YOU ALWAYS WANTED

Need I say more? Ok I will. You want coffee and you don’t want to spend £3.20 a pop on a latte? Well, my friend, leasing a nice coffee machine doesn’t come cheap either. Trust me, I run a co-working space. The best way to get daily access to the best coffee and coffee machines without spending the big bucks is to join a shared space. Plus, you don’t have buy cutlery for your staff every 3 weeks as it mysteriously disappearing. Be careful though, not all co-working providers offer free coffee but instead allow coffee shops to operate inside. It might be nice to have your own barista, but if you’re already paying for space, free coffee is a must.

 

6. IT’S A DREAM FOR NETWORKING

Whether you’ve just started out or you’re an established business, finding investors, mentors and clients can be tough. Co-working and shared spaces open up opportunities to meet new people all the time. Of course, if you want to meet other founders it’s a great place, but you’d be mistaken to think that spaces are just full of start-ups. In fact, many FTSE 100 companies are also taking shared office space, whether it’s for a particular project or team. Whoever you’re trying to get in front of, shared spaces can help. By chatting to people in the space and attending events, you can get introductions that could valuable for your business.

 

5. HIRING IS THAT BIT EASIER

Sometimes you need access to flexible workers and you have to pay agencies a fortune, knowing that the person working for you only gets a fraction of that money. Luckily, co-working spaces are bustling with freelancers, and there are more people working for themselves than ever before. If you join the right space, you could cut out the £££ spent on agencies and find the right freelancer in your space. Plus, they’ll be working in the same location as you, making in 10x easier to communicate with them. It’s a win-win.

 

8. YOU LOOK LIKE A CREDIBLE COMPANY TO INVESTORS

As with anything, presentation is key and those first 6 months at a new business is crucial to your success. Without a PA to book your meetings, any new founder will know the difficulty of finding and co-ordinating adequate meeting space, especially when your client changes their mind on the time of the meeting on the same day. Co-working spaces often offer meeting rooms you can hire by the hour, but they also offer less formal space, if your client just wants to pop in for a chat. A much better option than ending up in the local Pret! For those with their own space already, it comes at a premium, especially in London. By joining a shared space, you can use the meeting rooms only when you need them, saving you paying out for unused space.

 

9. IT COULD BE GREAT FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Physical space equals mental space. Work-life balance and small business and start-ups don’t exactly go hand in hand. Late nights, too much coffee, evenings and weekends spent at fundraisers and mixers where you might just meet the next investor or CEO. Working at a shared space can give you a more defined balance between work time and home time. Kitchen table workers often don’t know when to give up the ghost and go to bed. Co-working spaces often offer free wellness events too, making you more likely to put down the macbook and take some time out for a moment. Plus, all the screen time is really bad for your complexion.

10. YOU COULD MEET SOME REALLY COOL PEOPLE

Nothing keeps you motivated at work like having a great bunch of coworkers. When you work for a small business, it can either engender tight knit bonds or, it can make you feel a bit isolated, especially if you’re working remotely. Working in a shared space, you can meet people from all walks of life . It may sound cheesy, but ultimately nothing is more effective than getting you up on a Monday morning than that person in the office that cracks you up every time you see them. When you work at a co-working space, your friendships aren’t confided to your immediate colleagues, but everyone using the space. And who knows, you might even make a friend for life.

 

Leanne Creasy

 

Leanne Creasy is Work.Life’s Membership Manager and a fountain of knowledge for anyone looking to get in on the start up scene action. To read more great content from Leanne, head to her blog here