I’m a big fan of coworking spaces. Well, “big fan” might not even be the best description for it; “huge fan” is probably better. I’m passionate about coworking and believe that it’s the future of work for our generation.
In my time spent as a digital nomad, I’ve learned a thing or two about coworking spaces and what makes a good one “good.” Finding and working in a good coworking environment isn’t just about having reliable internet access and free coffee. It’s so much more than that.
Here, I’ll describe 6 things to look for when you’re scoping out your next coworking space and why they’re so important.
1. Don’t just shop for a working space. Shop for a community.
One of the best things about coworking spaces is that they are hotspots for other entrepreneurs and digital nomads. Everyone is working, sure, but you’ve also got your own little group that gets your lifestyle.
These are your people. They know the trials you go through firsthand. They understand the ups and downs of running a location-independent business. Chances are, you’ll have a lot to talk about with your new-found coworking friends. (Hopefully you can stay focused on your work!)
Being part of a community is important because it serves as a force that makes you want to get up every day and “go to work.” You’re already living the dream by running your own business and potentially living abroad or traveling. If you’re not part of a community, you might be missing the thrill of having “work friends.” I know I have.
Even though I may not have loved some of my jobs in the past, I still had great friends that I worked with. They made it feel “worth it” to go do my job. (I also needed a paycheck, so there wasn’t a ton of wiggle room, but you get my drift.)
Coworking spaces also give you some incredible opportunities to network. Even if the people you’re “working” with aren’t in your target niche, they probably know other entrepreneurs. Hello, referrals! Plus, you’ll always have one (or a few) friends available for happy hour. Who could say no to that?
2. Look for spaces that make you want to actually be there.
Nothing’s less exciting than waking up every morning and sitting in the same spot in your apartment, staring at the same walls, and going about your business. After 4 or 5 days of this repeated regimen, trust me, you’ll be itching for a change of scenery.
Coworking spaces are awesome because often, they have facilities and areas that will not only be a change from your boring apartment, but they can inspire you. Open and outdoor spaces are great. If you need somewhere private to relax, think, or just sit and read, you’re bound to find it in a great coworking environment.
3. Ask about events hosted by the coworking management.
Remember how I said that coworking spaces are hotspots for meeting and networking with other entrepreneurs? Well, it’s totally true. However, it’s also possible that your coworking space hosts events that are actually meant to foster networking.
Whether it’s an in-house “after-hours” event or something hosted in a neighborhood cafe or bar, you don’t have to go far to find other like-minded people who can potentially help you grow your business.
More and more coworking spaces are beginning to host free in-house seminars and multi-day courses for their customers. These classes are excellent opportunities for you to learn from other entrepreneurs. You might even be able to lead a seminar yourself, giving you a chance to expand your networking even further.
And it’s not just networking you’ll find. Coworking spaces have been known to host other functions, such as pool parties, yoga classes, or other “fun” events.
4. Check out the neighborhood.
Don’t forget to consider what’s around your new “office.”
Many coworking spaces are located in hip, up-and-coming neighborhoods and surrounded by coffee shops and cafes. Hopping out for a bite to eat or grabbing a snack and a cup o’ joe is easiest when it’s just down the street, right? If you enjoy spending time outside, look for a coworking space that’s near a park or other open area in your current city.
5. Find a place where you’re comfortable meeting with a client.
One of the disadvantages of being a digital nomad or having a location-independent business is that you no longer have your own office area to host meetings with prospective clients. Thanks to coworking spaces, though, this is no longer an issue.
Find a place you enjoy working and it’s sure to be somewhere your client will be willing to meet. Your coworking space likely has a few private areas you can rent by the hour for a low cost to talk during your appointment.
6. Know what kind of extra “hardware perks” are offered.
In this day and age of digital everything, it’s amazing that we still occasionally need hard copies of stuff. Make sure that your coworking space of choice allows you access to a printer, either for free or a reasonable rate. It wouldn’t hurt to also have access to a scanner, copier, and other necessities as well.
If you need to have a physical address, some coworking spaces will also allow you to forward “snail mail” to their street address for an additional small fee. This could potentially cost you less than other options available if you’re the sort that gets a lot of paper mail.
So, as you can see, there’s several things that go into finding a great coworking space. Not all are created equal, but everything considered, they’re a great solution for anyone looking to find somewhere to be productive. The next time you’re in the market for a shared working space, make sure these items are on your checklist. No matter what you’re looking for, you’re bound to find the right fit by following these guidelines.