Co-working, the idea of individuals using a communal workplace, is a trend which is spreading through both Australia’s CBDs and regional areas, with new spaces opening up all the time.
It’s a concept which started for many as a real estate play, when commercial office owners, especially after the GFC, figured out that instead of leasing entire floors to big businesses, they could hire out individual desks.
In the process, the could capture Australia’s small business market, and limit their exposure.
But growing competition is now driving co-working space owners to diversify, with many now selling their office spaces as “communities” which provide networking and business growth opportunities – a good thing for consumers who are being offered more choice and in many cases keeping prices down.
The offices are no longer just desks and chairs. Today the best hubs are fitted out with designer meeting rooms and kitchens, the latest tech and a range of playful features. Inspire9 in Melbourne even has a ball pit. (Check out some of Australia’s best co-working spaces here.)
“Co-working in its best form is really about quite a diverse space, it has all sorts of different facilities, a diverse membership and really promotes working differently rather than just a workspace with desks and meeting rooms,” McLaren said.
However, they’re still a place of work, so if you’re going to use one, it needs to make sense for your business.
Here are three scenarios when it might do your company, or idea, some good to pick up and relocate to a co-working space.
1. The Individual
When an entrepreneur or individual is just getting started a co-working environment can make good business sense.
It gets you out of the house and surrounded by people which can make those often frantic, early days of a business or developing an idea more bearable, Caroline McLaren, Principal of CoActiv8 told Business Insider.
“If you’re socially isolated at home or need to find the motivation to work, co-working spaces really support in that environment,” she said.
2. The Growing Business
When a business is chasing growth, overhead costs need to minimised. Co-working spaces can take the pressure off growing companies by providing flexible office arrangements.
Because when you reach the point where you have around 10 employees, working out of a garage just isn’t going to fly – especially if you’re trying to attract good talent.
“Co-working spaces offer a bit more flexibility than your typical office arrangement,” McLaren said, adding “Small businesses can be there for a few months at a time or work on a part time basis.”
“If they can use the part time work space rather than having to take a five year lease on a permanent office it certainly helps bring down your costs and bring down some the risks associated with that.”
3. The Big Business
There’s a string of big businesses looking to work with startups or build the lean and innovative culture associated with them into their organisations. There’s more on that here.
One way to do this is to relocate innovation or R&D teams in a co-working space where individuals aren’t surrounded by other corporate employees.
“Sometimes it can be challenging to think outside the box in traditional work environments,” McLaren said.
“Co-working spaces offer a new space that’s physically different, it’s in a new location and you get surrounded by people working on such a variety of projects that it naturally stimulates new ideas.”