Coworking spaces are thriving at the moment as a flexible and cost-effective alternative to renting exclusive premises. Coworking spaces attract a diverse range of people, such as entrepreneurs, remote workers who want some company or access to meeting rooms, small companies that don’t need many desks and growing startups that don’t want to lock themselves into long leases. However, despite their benefits, there are still some key considerations before joining a coworking space. This article sets out seven questions to think about before signing up.
1. Do You Require Privacy or Work With Confidential Information?
Coworking space are shared workstations. Therefore, you share a space with individuals and businesses unrelated to your own. Before joining a coworking space, you should carefully consider whether this works for your business and what the coworking space can offer you. For example, if you are having confidential conversations over the phone regularly, you will want to make sure you have access to private areas. Similarly, consider whether you will need to store confidential documents and if the space provides an appropriate and secure storage solution.
Some coworking spaces will offer small ‘office-style’ rooms that attract small groups of people from the same business. This could be advantageous if you prefer to work in private. If the coworking space does not offer private areas and this is important to you or your clients, you should look at other coworking alternatives.
2. What Services and Facilities Does the Coworking Space Provide?
Joining a coworking space does not mean you should not look for all the services you would want in your own, larger office space.
The technology offering is crucial for many businesses.
For example, strong internet connectivity should be a key concern. You should check to see if the coworking space offers both WiFi access and a hire wire alternative should the WiFi cut out. Some larger coworking spaces will also offer onsite tech support, which may be exactly what your business needs.
Other facilities key to the success of many businesses include:
- professional meeting rooms decked out with appropriate conferencing facilities;
- large kitchens with space to prepare your lunch; and
- casual areas to mingle with other members.
3. What Are Your Growth Plans Over the Next Few Years?
Your business’ growth plan is one of the most important considerations when choosing premises to work from. A coworking space offers a great alternative to traditional leases which lock you into a contract for a fixed period of time, which is often quite lengthy.
If you’re a startup that is hoping to scale quickly, this has its limitations, because you may outgrow the space before the lease is up. The flexible nature of coworking spaces is advantageous for growing companies. However, you should still consider what the coworking space can offer you in terms of growth.
Is the coworking space willing to offer you more desks or room in the coming months? Is a private office that seats a larger number of people available in this space? Can it be expanded? Finding a coworking space that facilitates your growth will allow you to stay in the same space for longer, which is great for your clients and removes the significant cost of moving.
4. Who Will You Be Working With?
By their nature, coworking spaces are collaborative. Different coworking spaces will attract different crowds and you want to find one that fits your business and its goals. For example, some coworking spaces will only accept early-stage tech startups or fintech startups.
Once you work out whether you fit the membership criteria, you will also want to consider what other businesses are working there. Coworking spaces provide a unique environment where you can network with a variety of other companies operating in both similar and different industries to yours. This kind of relationship-building may expose you to mentoring opportunities and will strengthen your own networks.
5. Does the Coworking Space Match Your Image?
Coworking spaces often conjure up images of table tennis tables, bean bags and trendy office spaces. For some startups, this is perfect and will bode well with your clients. There are, however, other, more professional coworking spaces that will suit other businesses and their image better.
Given that this is a key place your clients and investors will associate with you, consider the location and style of the coworking space.
6. Consider Engaging a Specialist Broker
Co-working spaces have their own peculiarities and it can be challenging to benchmark. A specialist co-working space broker such as The Instant Group (a procurer of flexible office space) can assist your business navigate the growing world of co-working. A quality broker will quickly provide you with a report of all the suitable options for you, assist with shortlisting and touring, as well as aid the negotiation of the terms, inclusions and pricing.
7. Have You Been Offered a Coworking Space Licence Agreement?
It is important to have a coworking space licence agreement in place to set out the terms of the relationship between you and the coworking space. Reading through the agreement thoroughly and having a lawyer check it over is essential to understanding the agreement and any key issues within it.
Questions you should ask about your agreement when you receive it include:
- Is there a head lease agreement between the landlord and coworking space. Is the coworking space entitled to license it to you?
- What is included in your membership and how will payment work?
- Is the licence for a fixed period or is it a casual arrangement? How can you terminate the licence agreement and what are the consequences?
- What is the permitted use of your licence?
- Does the coworking space have a set of rules and do you agree to comply with them?
- Who has to pay for insurance?
Coworking spaces are practical, flexible and cost-effective. However, they all have different offerings. Therefore, you should consider your business type, what your needs are, who you want to interact with and whether the coworking space can meet this checklist.
When you are ready to join, you should be offered a coworking space licence agreement. If you need assistance reviewing your licence agreement, contact LegalVision’s leasing lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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