Coworking spaces have become incredibly popular over the past several years, and for good reason. The rise of the gig economy means more people are freelancing, without the comfort of an office in which to do their work. Improving technology means more people are working remotely, needing workspaces on the fly and offices closer to home. And rising costs in urban areas are making conventional office leases nearly impossible.
Coworking spaces like Workfriendly attempt to solve these problems; for a monthly rate (or a daily rate, depending on your needs), you’ll gain access to a shared space in which you can work, collaborate, and even network with other people. But with dozens of coworking spaces in each major city and thousands to choose from around the country, how can you choose the right coworking space for your work?
First, you’ll need to consider where the coworking space is located. For many people, the main goal here is to find a space located as close to you as possible; if you can reduce your commute from 30 minutes to 5 minutes each way, you’ll save nearly an hour a day (or 5 hours per week). For others, it’s more important to find a coworking space that gives them access to location-specific benefits; for example, they might choose a coworking space in the heart of downtown, giving them access to more potential clients. List your location priorities, and adjust your search accordingly.
Different coworking spaces offer different amenities, which may or may not align with your needs. Consider the following, at a minimum:
- Parking and accessibility. How easy is it to get to this location? Is there ample parking onsite? If you don’t have a car or don’t want to drive, is it close to a bus stop or other form of public transportation?
- Storage. When you enter the building, are there storage areas where freelancers and entrepreneurs can store their personal belongings, like lockers? This may or may not be a personal need.
- Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi is an absolute must, but you can generally count this as being available at all coworking locations. You might also inquire about the speed and reliability of the connection provided.
- Furniture and open spaces. What’s the furniture like? How is the office arranged? Are there both open spaces and cubicles, so you can get the best of both worlds? Are the chairs and tables comfortable and easy to work with? Are there any couches or other types of furniture that would allow you to relax between tasks?
- Offices and meeting rooms. What kind of offices and meeting rooms are available? Can they be used by anyone in the coworking space? Do you have to sign up to use them in advance? How private are they?
- Kitchen availability. Is there a functional kitchen where you can store and/or prepare your lunch? What about unlimited coffee?
Next, you’ll need to think about hours. By default, most coworking spaces have standard hours of operation; they’re open from 9am-5pm, or offer extended hours like 7am-10pm, on weekdays with potential limited hours on the weekends. Others are much more lax; they may be open 24/7 to monthly subscribers, giving them each a unique code or card they can use to scan their way into the building. You’ll need to consider which hours you’ll be working most frequently.
You may also want to consider whether this coworking space caters to a specific kind of individual. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur starting a business for the first time, you’ll likely be eager to meet and learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs; accordingly, you may prioritize a coworking space that’s entrepreneur friendly. By contrast, you may choose a space that caters to freelancers, or some specific industry.
Finally, you’ll need to think about pricing. General prices are going to vary based on location and amenities, but even considering those variables, some coworking spaces are going to be more affordable than others. Make sure you compare prices apples-to-apples when possible; for example, don’t compare the high-tier luxury monthly rate of one coworking space to the low-tier basic monthly rate of another. Try to find a coworking space that both meets all your needs and provides you with a good deal.
If you’re interested in a coworking space near you, but you aren’t sure they have everything you need, consider taking a tour. Most coworking spaces will be more than happy to show you around for free, answering all your questions, before you move forward with a purchase or subscription. You could also elect to buy a day pass, which is usually reasonable, so you can try the space out for yourself.