There have been, on average, over 2500 new coworking spaces opening every year since 2015. Like every industry, there are challenges inherent in running a coworking space, and challenges that present to the users of a coworking space. We’ve noted first-hand some of the misconceptions on the coworking offices in London like ours.
Understanding the negatives as well as the positives about working in a coworking office is vital for progression, success and longevity. That’s why we want to draw attention to the top four challenges we have come across when it comes to coworking spaces, and how we’ve worked to overcome them as a community.
If you work or are thinking of working in a coworking office, below are four of the hurdles you may find yourself up against, and what you can do to address them in a professional and easy way.
Have you ever tried to complete a task in a noisy environment? Whilst there are plenty of people out there who can focus on their task and blank out any background noise, for the majority of people, noise as a huge distraction. With all the will in the world, any coworking office space will have some noisy members; it’s simply how we deal with them that makes or breaks a shared office space.
Brainstorming sessions, phones ringing, people chatting, Skype calls, coffee breaks, music through your neighbour’s headphones – these are all very real circumstances you may find yourself in when working from a coworking office. Don’t get us wrong, we understand that coworking spaces like ours require a feeling of flexibility and freedom, but we understand how frustrating it can be for those who need to focus.
So, what have we done to combat a noisy and distracting atmosphere? It all comes down to zoning. Our coworking spaces are designed to allow everyone to do what they need to do without negatively impacting other members, This means firstly communicating with the prospective client that there will be areas of our coworking space that are less quiet than others, but also making it known that there are designated quiet spots available for uninterrupted working. The second thing to do is ensure an unwritten code of conduct applies to all of our workspaces; i.e. yes – you can listen to music, but be respectful of those around you and use headphones at a reasonable volume. We have an entire piece on coworking etiquette, but nine times out of ten, it’s a pretty easy hurdle to get over, as everyone is there for the same thing.
Our advice would always be to take a tour of any prospective coworking office before signing up and enquire about quiet spots, areas for private calls and meetings and alternative workspaces.
Reliable high-speed Wi-Fi is an absolute essential for any coworking office, and wireless connections are improving all the time. Your typical shared working space can have up to two hundred members, and each of those is likely to have multiple devices on the go at any one time. In order to succeed as a coworking office, you have to be able to offer users a strong and secure internet service. That doesn’t just mean signing up to a good service – it means constantly reviewing that service and putting in place the right support to keep it running.
We have worked hard to provide ultra-fast, ultra-secure Wi-Fi in all of our coworking spaces. For extra confidence, we have also ensured we have professional on-hand support if an issue does arise.
If you talk to a handful of people who work out of coworking offices, they will probably tell you a number of bugbears that may all be completely different. One of the biggest challenges we have come across is trying to please the masses. One person may say they hate the smell of food whilst they’re working, whilst another may complain about it being too cold or hot. In many ways, some of the biggest hurdles are all down to personal workplace expectations, and this is when things can become tricky.
Ultimately, we strive to make a relaxing, comfortable and easy-going atmosphere for all of our members, but sometimes it can be difficult catering to the masses. A survey showed that just 54% of office workers felt the temperature of their work environment was optimal, with 27% finding it too hot and 19% finding it too cold. These statistics demonstrate how difficult it can be to cater to everyone.
There are certainly things we have done in order to improve the workplace environment. For instance, we have an unwritten rule, much like the one about noise, that people refrain from eating strong smelling food at their desk. We provide free coffee and have tried to obtain an idyllic temperature to work to. However, it is quite impossible to please everyone and so we ask that people with specific requirements check out their space first to avoid disappointment.
One of the main draws of a coworking space in London is the flexibility it offers to its members. Fancy a day out of the home office? Want to work in a change of scenery? Feel uninspired and want to meet other like-minded people? A coworking office can offer all of the above and has been shown to boost feelings of autonomy, morale and productivity.
A successful coworking space, therefore, must offer flexibility in order to maintain long-term members, and bring in more. Things such as opening hours can make a huge difference in how likely someone is to become a member. Consider the business you’re in, do you need 24/7 access to your workspace?
Along with working hours, there are things such as package options to consider. If you’re a freelance writer who is saving money by working from home but wants a change of scenery once a week then a flexible day-by-day payment scheme would be ideal. However, if the option for an all singing, all dancing package isn’t there, some of the larger groups of professionals may look elsewhere.
A coworking office with a range of packages to offer flexibility and a good deal will do much better than one that only offers one standard package. People want the option to make their own decisions at the end of the day, and flexibility is key to this.
At Areaworks, we offer a range of flexible membership packages across our sites to cater to a variety of different members’ needs.
We have several sites located across London (with many more opening soon) that offer flexibility, great facilities and above all else, a wonderful community. If you would like to take a tour around one of our sites, why not get in touch, we’d love to share a cuppa and show you around!