The popularity of coworking has boomed in recent years. Here, we bring you a guide to what it's all about - from benefits and facilities to costs and considerations. If you're already sold, why not start your search:
If you would like a bit more information we've answered the most frequently asked questions about coworking space options below. Welcome to the new world of work.
Coworking spaces are a mix of shared office space, business centre and café. They offer a fresh alternative to the restrictive rents and leases of traditional office spaces and commercial real estate and come with a range of benefits beyond flexible contracts, such as community events and plug & play set up.
Unlike a traditional office, co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, start-ups or for themselves. The result is an atmosphere that’s relaxed yet professional, collaborative and creative, with a real sense of community at its core.
The modern working world is different. It’s mobile and flexible. Freelancers, start-ups and larger businesses alike need professional working spaces that accommodate the way we work today. You might need office facilities for a few months, or just one day a month, and coworking spaces offer that kind of freedom, without skimping on location or amenities.
There are lots of co-working environments out there, all with their very own unique vibe and eco-system. If you are considering moving into a coworking space it's a good idea to visit several to get a feel for the space. Some spaces are perfect for creatives, some more focussed on tech and others are great all-rounders. In general, in terms of the actual space you will be working from, you have three main options to choose from.
Hot-desking is a popular option for freelancers that don't need a stationary computer and like versatility. You show up in the morning with your laptop and grab a free desk in a coworking area. If you only need desk or studio space every now and then, a hot desk is a great option. This is generally the cheapest and most flexible option, just make sure you get there early if you want a window seat!
For more permanent space, you can rent a fixed desk or an amount of fixed desks for you and your team. This means you can leave your equipment at work over night and personalise the desk as you wish. You'll normally share the room with other businesses which is great for networking and knowledge sharing. You can get a fixed desk for yourself or for a bigger team - ideal if your business is growing as it's easy to simply rent more desks in the same space.
You and your team can set yourselves up with your own private office within the larger shared building. This gives you more peace and privacy as well as the ability to personalise the office to your needs. As you're still in a coworking space you and your staff will benefit from all the networking events, break out spaces and general innovative vibe the space has to offer. Renting a private office is normally the most expensive option of the three, but as you licence the space rather than lease it, it is very flexible. You normally only have to give a month's notice (rather than having to sign up for years..)
Make your business a reality
A coworking space gives you the power to move out of your living room or local coffee shop and into a more professional environment. It provides a dedicated office space for you to go to while you ready your company for launch and beyond. Having a space to see clients, confer with staff and make use of office facilities can be the professional push your business needs to get up off the ground and grow.
Freedom for freelancers
Working alone at home can be isolating and, let’s face it, plain boring. Coworking spaces give freelancers flexible access to a more professional working environment, where and when they want it. It’s a way to get away from the distractions of home, create a valuable separation between your work space and your living space, improve your productivity and meet like-minded people too.
Access to great amenities
Coworking spaces offer up much more than just a desk space. Your monthly rent usually includes access to a kitchen, dining areas, WiFi and furniture. It can also include access to meeting and conference rooms integrated with the latest AV equipment, event spaces, classroom and workshop space, outdoor terraces, bike storage and 24-hour access.
You’ll be sharing an office with a mixture of larger SMEs, start-ups, creative teams and freelancers too. It gives you an opportunity to reach out and meet people you might not otherwise cross paths with, and the ability to create partnerships with other companies working there. Whether it’s sparking new ideas, sharing your business services, or just having a nice chat and a giggle over a cup of coffee, collaboration and camaraderie are big draws for people who choose the co-working route.
Boost your productivity
Change your environment and you can change your mindset. You don’t need us to tell you how distracting it can be when you work from home or behind your laptop at the local coffee shop. Paying for a dedicated work space can be all the incentive you need to adopt a more professional approach and get yourself in gear. According to Deskmag’s third Global Co-working Survey:
Nowadays office workers can be mobile and on-the-go entrepreneurs and freelancers would simply be wasting money by paying for an office full-time. With coworking spaces you can choose to rent a space for a year, a month, or just a day or two.
With some coworking spaces laying on free cake, breakfasts, Friday drinks and entertainment, co-working is never boring. People aren’t bound by traditional office rules, so the office politics don't really exist and everyone’s free to finally be themselves in the workplace.
Coworking means you’re all sharing the cost, so you can benefit from economies of scale, even if it’s just little old you that turns up to the office. Shared workspace rents tend to be far cheaper than renting a traditional office, if you account for hidden costs and flexibility. WiFi, heating, air con, business rates, cleaning, insurance - it’s all included in your rent, which makes it easy to budget for your business too.
The short answer is - it depends on what you need from your space. Hubble have spaces available right now from £20 (yep, that’s right) all the way up to £2,000 per desk per month.
You won’t pay a penny when you collaborate with charity partners who offer you free office space in return. Or grab a hot desk for a day at the likes of trendy Build Studios on the Southbank for £20, or a fixed desk for £292.50 per month.
At the top end of the scale, you’ll find large private office spaces within co-working hubs from between £1,000 and £2,000 per month, which are great for larger teams.
One of the main benefits of working from a coworking space is that bills and rates are all included in the price, making it easy to plan budgets.
Whatever option you choose, you can often save by paying for 12 months rent in advance, rather than paying monthly.
Further reading: What's the difference between a licence and a lease?
There are brokers, but, as with the letting agents of this world, you can face fees, pushy salespeople and a long wait to find the perfect space.
And there’s Hubble. We’ve made it easy. Pop in the search bar where you want to be and we’ll show you all the co-working spaces in the area, complete with their facilities, photos and that all important rental rate. You can search by location, price, number of desks, office type and facilities available, making it easy to find the perfect match for you.
Heart of the city, close to a tube stop, out in the (cheaper) suburbs? If you’re going to meet clients at the space, remember that you want it to be an easy place for them to get to.
Type of office
Hot desk, fixed desk or private office. This will depend on how many people are in your team, how often you need desk space per month, how much privacy you need and the kind of work that you do.
How ‘involved’ do you want to be?
Some spaces are run with a real community vibe, where part and parcel of being a member of the co-working space means you have to devote some of your time to helping run the space itself. Other spaces are totally non-committal - you just pay your rent, show up, use the facilities and that’s it.
Take a test run
Before you go renting, it’s always best to visit a few co-working spaces that peak your interest. You can get a feel for the place, the people and the facilities and figure out which space is the right fit.
Looking for space in London? Here are a few choice places to inspire you…
Go global with these guys. They run a curated learning programme using the Echo platform to allow members to share their skills for time rather than money and they’re part of a global movement of 90+ Impact Hubs with 11,000+ members around the world - so you’ll have access to desks and space abroad too.