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What Makes a Great Co-Working Space?

by Nicola Heaney

Research by the Harvard Business Review shows that those who work in co-working spaces are thriving in comparison to employees who work in regular offices.

Working in a co-working space means being surrounded by like-minded entrepreneurs. This means lots of opportunities to make valuable connections with peers – whether through swapping advice, sharing experiences or even collaborating on projects.

Plus, lots of co-working spaces have a strong design focus, meaning a more stimulating and enjoyable workspace environment. 

Ready to jump into co-working but unsure what to look for? Here are Square Works’ top seven things to look for when choosing a new collaborative workspace...

An Eye for Design

The modern workspace is a million miles from drab magnolia cubicles – and the best workspaces should be designed to energise those working within them. Think of spaces with lots of air circulation and lots of natural light. Plus, lots of greenery – our favourite workspaces are those that enrich wellbeing.

Lots of nooks and crannies

One of the main benefits of collaborative workspaces is that people are no longer tied to their desks – and the best workspaces should provide lots of different areas where these exciting collaborations can happen. We’d recommend looking for somewhere with different areas – quiet hot desking areas for when you need to get into a state of flow, standard desk and office space and more informal areas where you can break out for a chat and grow ideas with colleagues.

Meeting and Conference Spaces

Got a pitch that’ll blow the competition away? You need a place that matches your ambition. The number and calibre of meeting rooms and conference spaces is something that can make or break a workspace. Aim for somewhere with a range of meeting rooms – smaller ones for more intimate tete-a-tetes and larger ones for a team gathering. In addition to the quality of the technology available, you should also consider the refreshments available.

Great Location

Whether you’re a one-person show or a team of twenty, you need to consider location when you’re looking at workspaces. How easy is it for visitors to find? What’s in the surrounding areas? How does this fit with your company brand and values? If you’re considering your corporate social responsibility, how easy is it to get there using public or sustainable transport?

Community Spirit

We’re not saying you have to be best friends with everyone else using the space – but if you’re looking at co-working, then you’re thinking about collaboration. How does the workspace facilitate this? The best ones will have a full events calendar with a wide range of different activities. In addition to business-oriented talks and events, are there regular socials for networking? Make sure you take a tour (or even better, why not spend a day) just to get a feel for the atmosphere in the place. It may seem all pally on socials, but imagine the nightmare of turning up to discover passive-aggressive notes in the fridge!

Creature Comforts

Stylish surroundings are all well and good – but how comfortable are the furnishings? With most people seated at a computer for most of the day, it’s important that the desks and chairs are designed with ergonomics in mind. Otherwise, how will you create your best work if you’re worried about a twinge in your back from an uncomfortable chair?

Flexibility

The number one benefit offered by co-working spaces is the flexibility they offer. Leases are generally shorter than in commercial contracts, giving individuals and businesses more flexibility and more opportunity to grow their businesses according to their needs rather than according to their lease.