Coworking: which kind of space is best for you?
For many companies - and particularly startups - the stuffy old office model isn't working any more. The days of the cubicle are slowly becoming extinct as individuals and businesses alike understand the positive impact of activity-based working, which identifies and measures work by activity and not location. The coworking phenomenon is a product of this new wave of thinking. It provides more creative, connected, flexible, and affordable spaces to work than the traditional serviced and stuffy office building. Find out if coworking is a good option for you below.
What is coworking?
Walk into any London coffee shop or café and you will more often than not see a host of people scattered about the room with their computers, tablets, and smartphones in tow. This is coworking in its simplest form: multiple people working in the same location but for different organisations or purposes. Coworking spaces take this idea a step further by creating a community for people to work alongside but not with one another, all the while encouraging the sharing of ideas, opinions, experiences, and knowledge. Coworking spaces cater to a wide range of people, from single entrepreneurs or independent workers to small businesses growing their employee base, or even employees of large companies seeking a more effective workspace. Unlike incubators and accelerators, which often take a stake in equity of participating high growth companies, coworking spaces offer business space and light support for companies and members at varying levels of business growth and performance.
Why is coworking on the rise?
Coworking is a very recent phenomenon, the first space opening in the UK less than a decade ago. Since then, 112 coworking spaces have popped up in the greater London area alone. This is driven by a multitude of changes in the working environment in recent years. The first is the rise in the number of self-employed workers. The UK is home to over 4.5 million people who are self-employed, over 25% more than just ten years prior. In addition to this, small firms are having an increasing role in national employment. The 52 million small firms in the UK account for nearly half of all private sector employment. Efficient and accessible technology has been one of the key drivers in the demand for coworking, making it easier than it has ever been for inspiring and established business owners alike to break through the traditional barriers to business entry.
What are the benefits of coworking?
There are a few key characteristics that distinguish coworking spaces:
Traditional office space often requires a long term signed lease agreement with the provision of company guarantees and account records. This is not possible for budding entrepreneurs and small businesses in need of a space to work in the short term. One of the biggest advantages of coworking spaces is the flexibility to use the facilities only when needed. Desk or office space is available for a monthly membership fee with no long-term commitment required. Many spaces even allow daily or hourly drop-in rates.
Cost savings opportunities are sometimes available when choosing a coworking space versus a conventional office. For instance, a report by DTZ showed that the standard rent per workstation in London’s West End is £1,354 per month. Comparatively, The Soho Collective offers a monthly hot-desk membership for £410 and Sohost charges a monthly all-inclusive fee of £500 for a dedicated desk space: that’s more than a 60% cost savings.
Sense of community
Coworking spaces are ideal at facilitating conversation through the provision of communal areas, cafes, kitchen and breakout areas. Members are encouraged to discuss their challenges and successes with one another. Since the majority of coworking spaces are open to all sectors, there is a broad range of experience between members. DeskMag reported that 74% of co-workers feel more motivated and over 51% gained an expanded skillset. The community aspect of coworking acts as a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
Workshop or networking events are commonplace, providing members with the opportunity to make connections with people both in and outside of the coworking space. Some spaces such as Bathtub 2 Boardroom run member-led events and workshops to encourage the sharing of knowledge within the community. These sorts of events are what cause three out of every four members in coworking to have reportedly expanded networks.
Which coworking space is right for me?
Considering the large amount of options available and the pace at which this industry is growing, determining the coworking space that is right for you is highly dependent upon your budget, location, and daily business needs. The majority of facilities offer internet, kitchen areas, free printing and free tea/coffee. Others go one step further and offer lockers, a business mailbox, or access to rooftop gardens. WeWork, one of the coworking pioneers, even provides free beer on tap and Club Workspace Kennington gives discounted memberships for the gym that operates just below it. The Greater London Authority recently released an interactive map containing the locations of coworking spaces in London, located here, which can be used as a good starting point for finding a coworking space in London. But every business is different – here are a few examples of co-working spaces that may be right for you:
For social impact organisations:
Impact Hub Westminster, which overlooks Trafalgar Square, is one of 54 locations globally. The mission of Impact Hub Westminster is to support organisations that positively impact both people and the planet. It seeks to unite and grow those organisations with a social or environmental emphasis.
Cost | Unlimited Hot-Desking: £395/month for startups and £495/month for up and running businesses.
For the creative:
Second Home, with its transparent walls, eclectic furniture and over 1,000 potted plants, aims to inspire the creativity in its members. It is located just off Brick Lane Road and encourages membership from all different industries. Current tenants include companies such as SurveyMonkey, Foursquare, and TaskRabbit.
Cost | Upon Inquiry
For the techies:
Google Campus London is located in the heart of TechCity and gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their businesses floor by floor. You can join the community for free at the Campus Café on the lower ground floor, then move up to the coworking space operated by TechHub on floors one and two. The remaining floors are home to a host of events and accelerator programs ready to propel your business forward.
Cost | £275-£350/month + VAT
For those on a budget:
Bathtub 2 Boardroom strives to transform empty commercial space into opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and businesses. Bathtub 2 Boardroom has two “tubs” - located in the City and East London - and even provides bursaries for those starting charities, experiencing extended unemployment, or supported by partners such as The Prince’s Trust.
Cost | Resident Desk: £200/month
Camden Collective focuses on supporting creative freelancers or entrepreneurs through the provision of coworking space as well as retail pop-up space across four different sites. Membership is free to those companies operating within their first six months of trading and in the creative sector. It is currently at capacity but is planning to expand in the near future.
Cost | Free
For an international community:
WeWork recently opened its fourth and largest location in Moorgate, providing enough room for 3,000 members across 8 floors, and it’s not stopping there. WeWork members benefit from global connectivity. They can book conference rooms and connect with over 20,000 people in the WeWork community using the online member portal.
Cost | Resident Desk: £250-£393+VAT, Offices: £600-£900
For location flexibility:
Club Workspace has 12 locations across Greater London and has plans to expand even further. Those with monthly memberships get full access to all venues across the city and free access to all events. Club Workspace also offers the opportunity to move into a larger space as the business grows.
Cost | Unlimited Hot-Desking: £275, Resident Desk: £350