These days it is becoming less and less traditional to work a traditional job. More people are working from home, in remote locations, or quitting the corporate world of gray cubicles for tech startups in cold garages and freelancing from public computers at their local library. While it sounds nice to sit on the couch in pajamas or romantic to sip coffee while typing on your laptop at a local café, many workers soon realize that they are feeling lonely and isolated, and that they miss a few things about their old jobs. They miss eating lunch with coworkers and discussing who got kicked out of what reality television show. They miss gossiping during smoke breaks. They certainly do not miss that boss that was always breathing down their neck or those endless meetings that accomplished less than nothing, but they still need a community. If you need a little company at times, or just need somewhere to work that is not an arm’s length away from your refrigerator and one button away from the television, then a shared office or co-working space might be for you.
Shared offices can be found in a variety of locations. Some are in spacious old cement lofts, others are in converted office buildings, and some are even in guest wings of private homes. Freelancers working for dozens of clients and remote workers hired by one person can all gather in these locations and form their own communities. You can rent your space by the day, the month, or the year. Basic locations with the bare minimum amenities charge around two hundred dollars a month. Others with better coffee, free black and white printing and comfy chairs, can get as expensive as five hundred per month.
But once you have decided to find a co-working space, how do you go about locating the very best one for you? Here are three things to look for: Does the shared office have the tools you need? What are the staff members and co-workers like? Is the office layout and location ideal for your needs?
Does the shared office have the tools you need?
Traditional company offices provide all of the necessary tools for their employees. You probably do not need half of them as a remote worker or freelancer, but some things like electricity, internet access, and drinks are always essential whether you are working at home of in a shared office. When you are looking for a co-working space, ask yourself what amenities you require. Do you just need a chair or a desk the size of a twin bed? Do you ride your bike to work and need to shower? How many electrical outlets do you need to run your tech? Are there books that you need every day for work that you do not want to drag around? If that is the case, you need extra storage to rent.
Do not assume that every place will have a full size kitchen complete with a stove and oven, a dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, microwave, and espresso machine. There is no guarantee that every shared office will have a television for video conferencing or fax machines. If you need to print out color brochures for your marketing agenda, you do not want to rent a space with a printer that only prints black and white.
What are the staff members and co-workers like?
Most shared offices will have a manager on site or on call. All shared offices will have people coming and going. If you really want to be part of an office community again, it would be wise to avoid co-working spaces that only rent by the hour or by the day. You would not have consistent interaction with other freelancers. If you rent a desk for a year in a pod with six others who are committed to the same amount of time, that gives you people to not only bounce ideas off of but to be accountable to every day.
Do not forget to inquire, politely, how the people there act. Some people require silence while others thrive when there is background noise. Is it a room full of introverts all minding their own business and hiding behind headphones, or a room full of extroverts who never stop talking? Figure out who you want to be around before you commit.
Is the office layout and location ideal for your needs?
What is your travel situation like? When you look for a shared space, find out if you have to pay extra for parking. Check on bike racks, nearby taxi services, and bus and subway locations. Check out the neighborhood while you are at it. Will you be unable to concentrate after three in the afternoon because every kid on the block is playing street hockey outside your window after school? Does the local pizza shop deliver to your desk?
The internal layout matters, too. Look for shared spaces that can accommodate your every conceivable mood and need. Can you sit by a window one day and in a dark corner the next? If you need privacy, is there a place you can go to make those phone calls? When a client comes to town and wants a face to face meeting, will you be able to reserve a small meeting room? Maybe you are the type of person who wants to do some stretches outside to relieve stress – is there a courtyard that can fit your yoga mat?
Whether you are a photographer, a graphic designer, an architect, filmmaker, or a writer, all work at home employees eventually need a change of scene that is more than a desk. Because most shared offices allow people to rent a space by the day, you might try giving different locations a test drive. Meet different people, explore different neighborhoods and, most important of all, taste test all of the coffee! When you find one that meets your needs and answers the above questions to your satisfaction, you might have your new home office away from home.
Are you looking for a shared office space in New York City? Corporate Suites offers shared office spaces, virtual addresses and conference rooms in several convenient locations across Manhattan. Visit one of our locations today for a tour.