Having office space is critical for a startup. An HQ provides a place for your team to come to everyday for peak collaboration. But, office space is expensive.
Often teams look to co-working spaces for a number of benefits – it’s seen as a more affordable, lower commitment option that often includes other perks like internet & printing, conference rooms & meeting space, free coffee, beer and snacks, and the opportunity to connect with other startups in your community working out of the same space. This is a clear chance for businesses to partner and share resources, advice, business marketing opps, and more.
If it’s time to move out of the home office, and your team is growing, but you’re not necessarily ready for a space of your own, then coworking space is likely a good option. The problem? A lot of other startups have this same mindset, and they are actively looking for coworking space, too. As a result, spots are in high demand and coworking providers are getting more competitive with one another – offering more perks, more networking opportunities, etc.
How can you find the right spot for your team? Ask yourself how important the below questions are to your success and make a decision from there.
How much space do you need? If you have a short term contract you won’t need to plan that far ahead, but you also want to make sure that growing with the space won’t be a problem. It’s good to account for 6-month growth and choose a spot that can accommodate the extra teammates that may or may not join. Adding desks or private offices as you go is ideal so that the economics still work in your favor.
Do you need regular meeting space? Some coworking spaces offer private offices, but if you only secure a few desks, will you have the ability to schedule time in conference rooms if needed? Get a sense of how booked up these get to determine whether you need to include private meeting space as part of your contract. Ask current occupants what their opinion is on conference room availability.
What can you spend? Some shared office space is extremely well outfitted and designed beautifully to attract more established startups that can shell out more money for a more aesthetically pleasing environment. If all those bells & whistles aren’t as important to you as a good deal, look for some of the lesser known coworking spaces in your community. The necessary requirements – clean, safe space, a solid infrastructure, and reliable management can suffice for early teams with a loyal team.
Can your team see it? You don’t want to tour all coworking spaces with your team in tow, but once you find a good fit, ask if your team can check it out after work, or use a quick video tour to make sure they are in support of the space.
Is it a good commuting option for your team? If you are a really young company just starting out, your team has likely been cranking from home. You don’t want to stall that productivity by making them commute for hours at the beginning or end of the day. Make sure it’s convenient to public transportation or has solid parking options.
Who are your neighbors? You’re going to be under the same roof with other startups for as long as you occupy your coworking space. What are they working on? How long have they been there? Do they plan on staying and for how long? What do they like & dislike with the space? Do folks network together? Does the space bring in experts and guest speakers?
Can you try it on for size? Some spots will let you try it out for a day or two to get a sense of the day-to-day environment. Try it out before you buy, if possible. You will also get a sense of the infrastructure by being there for a day – is the internet spotty? Do you have cell service?
Who runs management? Is the person you are leasing from who you will deal with on a daily or weekly basis? Who handles issues with the space, and who can you go to with questions? How often are they onsite?
Can you negotiate the contract? Most likely, your coworking office options will have certain contracts and pricing options, but that doesn’t mean it fits your business plan or goals. Don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for the contract you want. If you travel a lot, do they have spaces in other cities that you can also take advantage of?
These are all important questions to ask before you choose a shared office space location. From there you can start to parse down the options available to you to make a decision. Boston Startups Guide has done an excellent job of listing out the best coworking spots in Boston and Cambridge, by location and price. 42Floors shares a list of hundreds of coworking spaces in NYC and the Coworking wiki shares a top list of spaces in San Francisco.
Need options in other cities, too? We can help. If you don’t want to do the legwork to find the right coworking space for your team, we will do the research for you. Get help from us here.