Coworking spaces, an alternative to working in a traditional office environment, are a relatively new development that emerged in the early 2000s. The evolution of increasingly powerful laptops and remote internet connectivity made it feasible to take your office with you wherever you went. These spaces were used by self-employed freelancers looking for an alternative to working from home offices and coffee shops. Coworking spaces functioned as communities, allowing workers from different backgrounds to collaborate, share expertise and explore new ideas in a shared space, most notably in the tech sector. However, their popularity grew to include workers in a wide variety of fields.
Remote working remotely was gaining popularity, spurred by the increase in newly self-employed workers after the 2008 global financial crisis and freelancers looking for somewhere to work and collaborate other than their homes. And the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. Today, people use coworking spaces for a lot of different reasons. From independent contractors to remote workers to people who travel frequently, coworking spaces are an attractive option.
Some giant corporations with many employees on hybrid office/remote work schedules are finding themselves with unused space in their current offices. Short-term leased space at a coworking space allows corporations to adjust the amount of space they are leasing, aligning it to their current needs.
Coworking spaces commonly offer shared facilities and services to spread the cost of running an office across its members. There could be shared facilities, services and tools, such as shared receptionist and administrative services, access to high-speed internet, mailbox and courier handling, fax machines and printers, and telephone answering. Spaces available can range from open coworking areas to private meeting rooms of various sizes, right up to large boardrooms. Office space can be rented by the hour, day, all the way up to the long term.
Some Advantages of CoWorking Spaces
There are advantages to using coworking spaces that many find appealing.
Coworking spaces can help remote workers avoid the social isolation experienced when working from home. They may experience fewer distractions at a coworking centre than home, boosting their productivity.
Growing businesses may choose to use a coworking space rather than take on the risk of a long-term lease. Coworking spaces offer more flexibility when employees with hybrid work schedules are involved.
There is a sense of community in coworking spaces. Connecting with like-minded professionals is valuable as networking connections could develop into opportunities and build strong relationships and lasting connections. Conversations with friends and colleagues that Introduce new perspectives and ideas can kick-start creative solutions to problems. Meeting with clients and holding training and presentations without household disorders and distractions is a significant advantage for those who use coworking spaces.
…And Some Drawbacks
Coworking spaces aren’t the right fit for everyone.
The configuration of coworking spaces is pre-determined, and generally, there is no flexibility in the office’s design, shape and layout.
Coworking spaces usually only have a little room for customization. However, you could display branding and add decor items if you lease dedicated office space.
Privacy could also be a concern, most certainly in open areas. You’ll share the space with others at the printer or fax machine, so keeping private material private may be challenging. If you deal with sensitive material, determine if dedicated private spaces will be available when needed.
The Future of CoWorking Spaces
While coworking is a relatively new term, the idea of people working together with others performing entirely different work is not new. What’s happening now is that employees demand more flexibility in where and how they work. Companies trying to balance employees’ demands with the realities of running a business have developed hybrid work models. They have reconfigured office spaces, and desks are often no longer assigned to one employee. They function more like coworking spaces than the typical office models of the past.
With the increase in fractional workers, freelance contractors, digital nomads, and hybrid workers, coworking spaces are experiencing a boom. When choosing a coworking space, there are many things to consider.
• Location – how convenient is the space to reach by car, public transportation, or bike for your employees and customers?
• Amenities – these are not just a nice bonus. Reliable Wi-Fi, experienced on-site staff, and even free coffee can add to your professional vibe.
• Flexibility – is a short-term lease available if you rent dedicated office space? These leases are essential if the unexpected happens and you need to scale up (or down) as your priorities change to stay within budget.
• Privacy – does the centre have private, lockable offices or meeting rooms you can book as needed?
My Experience Visiting a Local CoWorking Space
I recently attended a networking event at the newly opened Bayer’s Lake location of WorkSpace Atlantic, and I was delighted with their space. There’s a coffee shop and a gym on the ground floor, and tons of free parking is available.
Up on the 3rd floor, the space is bright and open. Past the reception area is the open coworking space. There is a kitchen space where you will find unlimited free coffee and tea. There’s wireless high-speed internet, a staffed reception desk, copiers, a fax machine (for local calls),
I was surprised by the overall size of this location. Private office spaces came in all shapes and sizes, too. From small meeting rooms (perfect for private client meetings) to larger meeting rooms and a large boardroom and offices in all shapes and sizes, from single offices to office suites for up to a dozen people. They even have “Zoom” rooms for virtual meetings. They are available by the hour, half day, full day, or as dedicated long-term leasing.
Coworking spaces are here to stay. Even though I can be very productive in my home office as a Virtual Assistant, I see the potential for using coworking spaces and booking space for client meetings.
What is available locally in the Halifax, NS area?
A Google search will provide you with pages of choices. My search today pulled up Cowork Halifax, WorkSpace, Many Hats, and Regus – this is just a small sampling of coworking spaces in our area. If you think that a coworking space might work for you, take a look and see what’s available!