After spending the last couple of months researching co-working offices and similar spaces in both the US and Germany, I soon began to notice a number similarities between the examples. With this in mind, and what we know of co-working here in the UK, I decided to try to boil down the five most important aspects or “ingredients” that go into a great co-working space today.
1. The right variety of spaces:
The most successful co-working offices tend to offer a range of different types of space within one building.
- Office space where individuals and teams can plug in and get down to work is, of course, a must. Open plan areas are a popular way to make use of large spaces and to accommodate fast-growing teams, as well as making it easy for those working to talk to each other. Many co-working spaces I’ve looked at also offer smaller office areas to give individuals a greater degree of solitude and a quieter environment.
- Homely Space is also a popular feature of the co-working offices I have looked at. Comfy seating and a more relaxed atmosphere offer something of an escape from the screen for tenants, as well as being a place where colleagues can meet for a less formal chat.
- Social/Coffee House Space have become integrated into many co-working spaces I have seen, and have seemingly evolved from the reputation such spaces have had for kick starting ideas. These areas give tenants the means to relax, refuel and discuss issues – perhaps over a coffee or beer.
2. Payment simplicity:
Over the last couple of months we have seen a variety of ways co-working spaces charge for their facilities, but payment simplicity is a key feature across all of them. Where spaces offer traditional rental contracts all Wi-Fi and bill costs are usually included to ensure there are no hidden extras for tenants, while contract lengths are typically negotiable and can be as short as a month in length. Other spaces opt for club-like membership fees, while many we have seen in Germany offer ticket schemes where tenants can buy daily, weekly and monthly tickets as and when they need to.
3. Information and Connectivity:
It goes without saying that Wi-Fi should be high speed and available in all areas of today’s co-working spaces, and as is mentioned above, costs should be included in any advertised rental rates. Additionally, directories and books are also a popular feature with some spaces offering internal library services to tenants.
Location is important, and many of the co-working spaces we have seen do well to bear in mind the need of tenants to be close to public transport and other amenities. However, while it is important to put the needs of tenants first – many co-working spaces ensure that non-tenants are welcome and even schedule weekly tours and meet-ups for the wider community to come and have a look around.
Following accessibility, ‘community’ is likely the most important feature of modern co-working spaces and offices – but is not necessarily something which can appear straight away. A community spirit needs to be nurtured by planning social evenings, get-togethers and seminars, so tenants can meet and get to know one another. Promoting client diversity and cross-pollination of services is actively endorsed by the most successful spaces, and utilizing social media and blogging goes even further to promote the community side online.