I went around the office here recently asking people why they had signed up and what they looked for when looking around for office space, and came up with a list of things to think about when looking for office space.
1. Price. Not often mentioned in office sourcing guide lists, but it's one of the most important, after all you'll be paying the bill every month. Everything else, eventually, falls under this. What do you get for what you pay?
2. Is location important? This can also be related to the price. If you'll be entertaining clients over lunch, what does the surrounding area have to offer? Will it be easy for clients or associates coming for meetings to find you? An office next to a main road will more than likely have a high rent, which will be passed onto members. Do you need that? Or will a place slightly off the beaten track serve your needs just as well, and maybe your pocket?
3. What does all inclusive mean? It's quite normal these days for VAT to be put on after the price. This is for business tax reasons, but, after that look out for any hidden charges. Is there a time limit on the internet? If you book your time there by hours, how are they counted? It's better for you if you know quite well how much time you'll spend in the office each month. If you don't, check out the flexibility of their price tariffs. Can you change tariffs without being charged for changing?
4. Flexibility itself can be very important and can tell you a little about the culture of the space. Will the co-working space work with you? What sort of tariffs do they have? And can they, or will they customise? From office layout to your growth. How many hours a month will you want to spend there? How much notice do you have to give to move out?
5. Amenities. Do they have what you need, or what they want to sell you? If you'll be having meetings, discounted meeting rooms for members will be a plus. If you don't drink coffee, free coffee isn't of much interest to you. Work out what you actually need, and what is good for your business. Phone booths or private areas where you can make a discreet call can be useful.
6. Community. Do they have social and professional events, such as discounted or free access to seminars and training? Again, if that is of interest to you, it could be a bonus. People I spoke with said community was a major factor, that being around like minded people was important. Do they have the community you need? The reason co-working spaces were once considered freelancer spaces was because of the networking possibilities. If the community is of interest to your business needs, ask what type of businesses work form there. Industry insights can be very useful.
7. The look of the place. If you're going to have clients there for meetings, consider how the place looks. Professional, creative, clean? Bare in mind, when inviting a client to a meeting, that the space they come to can have an effect on their perception of you and your business. What did you think when you first saw the place?
8. Trial days. Try before you buy is always a good option. You won't be able to tell everything about the space in one day but you will get a feel for the place and maybe spot something that you don't like. Such as finding out that busy road you're on is really noisy, or there are too many interruptions form other members.
9. Breakout spaces. Everybody needs to get away from the desk from time to time, somewhere to eat lunch, if you're not going out, somewhere to have a chat over coffee with a friend or colleague, sometimes just a place with a change of view for a bit. Apparently good for the brain.
10. Security and access: What is the security like for the building? Is that an issue? Will you have access when you want? 24/7, or at least later opening, can be a plus for a start up/freelancer coming out of a late meeting and wanting to finish up or someone with international contacts. The place has to work for you, not the other way around.
All this comes together for an overall feel. Not to sound overly hip, but the vibe of the place is important. How you feel in a space can have a strong effect on your productivity. Good Luck.
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