Coworking spaces and freelancers are a match made in heaven – or are they?
When you think of a coworking space, you may assume that every single one is the same. That each space is tailored to the needs of the world’s freelancers, who are digital nomads flitting around the world with nothing but a laptop in hand.
You’re wrong. No two coworking spaces (or freelancers for that matter) are the same. As such, it’s vital for freelancers to evaluate the available coworking spaces to find which one is a fit for their work.
Here are the main points to look for and questions to answer.
Start with the basics
A coworking space is a professional workspace that you can rent out on a flexible basis. Solo entrepreneurs, multinational organizations, and every type of worker in between use coworking spaces for a variety of reasons.
As a freelancer, you first need to answer this simple question:
What do you want from a coworking space as a freelancer?
You may want to network with like-minded people and/or escape the loneliness of your home office. If that’s the case, try to find a coworking space with an active events calendar and a layout to encourage communication.
Alternatively, you may just want to escape your home office and are content with a desk anywhere in any space. Or you may want to work in a location that’s meaningful to your industry.
Coworking spaces bring many benefits to freelancers. Research reveals some 84% of coworkers claim such spaces reduce loneliness and 53% say it fights stress.
Furthermore, 69% say they have benefited from shared skills and experiences while coworking and 62% said coworking has helped keep their skills up to date.
Once you have pinned down the core reason you want to use a coworking space, this will inform the rest of the decision-making process.
Do some math
You should have a good idea of what you want out of a coworking space. Now, it’s time to consider some of the logistics around choosing a space, including:
How far are you prepared to travel to a coworking space?
Consider your commute to a coworking space. You may not be prepared to spend the time or money traveling – particularly if you’re used to working from home. However, sometimes a short commute can provide you with the separation between home and work that many freelancers need.
You may also want to work in a single location, close to your clients. Or, if you’re happy to roam around, then you could sign up with one of the major coworking operators (like WeWork) that offers access to every coworking space it owns.
How much are you prepared to pay for a space? Are you happy working at a hotdesk? Or a dedicated desk? Or do you need a private office?
Each coworking space has different rates and membership policies. While most offer hot-desking (usually the cheapest option because desks are first come, first serve), you may prefer a permanent desk, or a space in a private office. It depends on the nature of your work and whether you want to be surrounded by people.
How often will you want to use a space?
You can use a coworking space as little or as often as you need to. If you want to just pop in and out of a coworking space, it may make more financial sense to sign up for a space with an hourly rate.
But if you want to work there on a more permanent basis, a monthly or yearly membership may be cheaper in the long run.
When will you want to use the coworking space?
Some spaces give members 24/7 access to their buildings and amenities. Others may only offer restricted hours.
Once you have worked all of this out, you should have a clearer idea of your ideal location, budget, and membership options for a coworking space. Start doing some research and shortlist spaces that match your requirements.
Work out what’s important
Now that you have a shortlist of coworking options, work out your priorities as a freelancer and how you want to use a coworking space. Ask yourself:
- How engaged is the coworking community?
- Does the coworking space suit your work style?
- Will you get access to meeting rooms and other areas in the space?
- What amenities do you need?
- Are there designated quiet areas?
- What are the perks of membership?
- What events does the space host?
- Do you like the design and layout of the space?
To answer these questions, you may need to visit a few coworking spaces. Some spaces may offer a tour of their facilities, others may give you a free pass to try before you buy.
When you do look around at different coworking spaces, try to talk to its members to find out what it’s really like there. Most spaces also have a community manager who should be able to answer your questions and give you some more insights into the space.
Last, but by no means least, you just need to ask yourself this:
Can you see yourself working at this coworking space?
If you answer is “yes”, you’ve found your space!