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A Guide to Coworking: Everything You Need to Make the Most of it

Posted by Common Ground PH on Aug 3, 2019 4:00:00 PM

 

  • Coworking is the sharing of office space with other businesses and professionals. But there’s more to it than just a shared office space.
  • When compared with other types of office, a coworking space provides greater flexibility and convenience, and is the most cost-efficient choice for startups.
  • While it is initially made for solo workers and small teams, large corporations can also benefit greatly from coworking spaces.
  • There are a lot of benefits of coworking and these touch on collaboration, connection, cost, convenience, culture, community, and corporate identity. These are the 7 Cs of coworking.

 

When we hear the word “coworking,” perhaps the first thing that comes to mind would be an image of people working together. That’s not far from how Bernard DeKoven meant it to be when he coined the term in 1999. 

 

But after reading this content, you’ll be able to add more to that view—a beautiful, functional workplace, a thriving and supportive community, and an incredible office solution that benefits your business.

 

What is Coworking today?

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Coworking is the sharing of office space with other businesses and professionals. That space is often referred to as coworking space, or coworking office, or collaboration space, and some would generally call it a shared office.

 

But not all shared offices are coworking spaces. What makes a shared office a coworking space are these key features:

  • Open-office setup and communal areas
  • Move-in-ready office furnishings, equipment, and IT and communication infrastructure
  • Flexible payment terms (monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly) usually at an affordable rate
  • Relaxed, dynamic atmosphere
  • A community manager who guides members, initiates introduction, and organizes events
  • Tailored community events and activities

 

These elements of a coworking space are intended to allow members to work independently while having a sense of community and the chance to collaborate with others. It’s like being able to work on your own without feeling all alone. 

 

TIP!

While most coworking spaces welcome walk-ins, it’s best to tour the place first to see if it fits your needs and matches the environment and identity you want for your business. This also gives you the chance to familiarize yourself with the area, and get to know some people and businesses that work there for a smoother transition.

 

This pushed Brad Neuberg to conceive the idea of creating a coworking space; to be able to have that freedom and independence when working, but still maintain the atmosphere and structure of working with a group. On August 9, 2005, he opened the first ever coworking space inside Spiral Muse in San Francisco, USA. Just after a year, he moved it to a bigger location due to huge demand, and called the space Hat Factory.

 

Today, coworking spaces continue to be revolutionary as they provide an alternative work environment that supports vibrant, dynamic interactions among members, breaking the monotony and rigidity of traditional offices.

 

How does coworking space compare with other types of offices?

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Coworking is still pretty new in the Philippines with only 34 coworking spaces present in Metro Manila’s major CBDs based on a 2018 Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) insight report. Another kind of shared space called serviced offices are also found around CBDs—51 in total. With a combined amount of 85 facilities, these shared offices cover a small percent of these prime locations’ total office landscape. For instance, Bonifacio Global City and Taguig City have the highest percentage of shared offices at 2.2%. This shows that traditional offices are still the most popular type of workplace.

 

On the other hand, the high cost of constructing, maintaining, or even leasing of conventional offices push company owners to look for more economical options. Especially with businesses fluctuating and the economy as unstable as it is, a more flexible, practical office solution is needed. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the three common office setups for easier grasp of information and evaluation.

 

 

Coworking Space

Serviced Office

Traditional Office

Design and Features

  • Fully-furnished workspace with open concept plan where members can rent a hot desk, fixed desk, or a private office 
  • Fast internet connectivity
  • Shared meeting rooms, reception, pantry
  • Free refreshments
  • Fully-fitted office space with private rooms and executive suites rented to different companies
  • Shared meeting rooms, reception, pantry 
  • A private establishment exclusive to a particular company where the owner puts in the needed furniture, equipment, and technology

Pricing

  • Most cost-efficient with the most flexible payment terms (monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly)
  • All facilities and utilities used are charged and included in the monthly fee along with the rent; initial contract is usually for 12 months
  • Utility bills, procurement, installation, and maintenance fees, plus rent if space is leased

Pros

  • Affordable and convenient as it lets you save a lot from its ready-to-use amenities
  • Great flexibility where you can easily scale up or down your office usage, and come and go as you please
  • Have the opportunity to grow your network and find the right investor, partner, or employee
  • Avail a private office at a more reasonable price and get the convenience of having all the fixtures and technology ready and in place
  • Choose to rent a private room or an entire building floor depending on the size of your team or the privacy you need
  • Allows you to make long-term, more permanent decisions when it comes to the location and space
  • Full privacy to carry out non-disclosure agreements or keep classified information
  • Have control of the entire premises and be free to apply design preferences and/or corporate branding anywhere (*Subject to contract or approval of property owner if office is leased)

Cons

  • Privacy can be a problem and renting private offices  cost more than renting hot or fixed desks
  • Very limited control of the space, especially of common areas
  • More suitable for small teams (50 members or less)
  • Limited control of shared facilities
  • Lease terms are not for long-term stay with most initial contracts not lasting for more than 24 months
  • Highly-expensive with startup and ongoing costs
  • Buying, acquiring, and maintaining facilities and equipment can be a hassle
  • Fixed ownership or long-term contract means your tied down to the space for years regardless of business progress or condition

 

 

As you can see, the right kind of office depends on the business’s budget, requirements, size, and condition. And you may notice that a coworking space is more apt for startups and small companies. However, to consider coworking as only meant for these businesses would be a mistake.

 

Corporate giants like Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook are getting into coworking by relocating a part of their team to coworking spaces or even experimenting on creating a coworking setup within their own traditional offices (something called “corpoworking”). 

 

According to Gabor Nagy and Greg Lindsay in their Harvard Business Review article, “The real revolution in coworking may have less to do with freelancers or startups than with employees of large companies working beyond the boundaries of their organizations.” 

 

 

Who use coworking spaces?

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Indeed, coworking spaces were originally intended for solo entrepreneurs, startups, and small teams. Even before Neuberg’s first official coworking space became a reality, miles away from the US and three years prior, an abandoned factory in Vienna was rebuilt to become a shared space for these particular individuals and groups. This old-factory-turned-shared-office, Schraubenfabrik, became the “mother of coworking spaces.”

 

Up to this day, coworking spaces serve as a business haven for sole proprietors, startups, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads. Besides the economic financial crises felt in different regions around the world, technological developments led to a new generation of workforce. More people are holding freelance and home-based status. The Philippines ranked third as having the highest population of freelancers per capita out of the 22 countries surveyed in the 2018 Global Freelancer Insights Report by the US-payment firm Paypal.

 

The Philippines also harbors many outsourcing firms, and developing and growing businesses. It’s no wonder that the country’s coworking industry is projected to grow by 10% annually over the next three years based on a Colliers International report, while a JLL report showed a 15% estimated growth in coworking demand by 2030.

 

As a summary, here’s a list of individuals and teams that use coworking spaces as a place to work and do business.

  • Freelancers
  • Home-based or remote workers
  • Digital nomads
  • Solo entrepreneurs
  • Startup businesses
  • Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs)
  • Growing businesses with small teams
  • Non-profit/non-government organizations
  • Departments and subdivisions of large corporations

 

TIPS!

For solo entrepreneurs in search of a business partner or possible investor, a coworking space can be a great place to start. Talk to the community manager to help you get introduced to the right people.

 

For small businesses looking to grow their team, a coworking space is teeming with professionals, consultants, and freelancers from different fields and expertise. Some coworking spaces have recruitment specialists onboard to help you find the right people for your team.

 

For business owners that need help in tech matters: there are coworking spaces that offer credits and discounts to various leading software providers and could even help you find a Chief Technology Officer if you need one. 

 

There’s more to these collaboration spaces than just move-in-ready, well-designed shared offices. By understanding the benefits of coworking, especially the effect it has on daily business operations, corporate identity, and team’s productivity and welfare, you’ll be able to see how shared offices can help so many businesses in different industries even with varying needs. But the most important question is “does coworking fit your business’s needs?”

 

You are the only person who can answer that question. But to help you discern the right answer, here’s a list of all the benefits of coworking based on what matters to you or what interests you the most.

 

The 7 Cs of Coworking: Understanding and Appreciating the Benefits of Coworking Better

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Collaboration

Every coworking space is designed for this purpose. By being able to collaborate with other professionals, experts, and companies, you get the chance to discover corporate trends, key innovations, and best practices that can be valuable for your business. 

 

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that 84% of people choose coworking spaces

to interact with others, making this the top reason why people choose coworking. 

Collaboration is not only a way to exchange knowledge, experiences, and information. It also 

gives you a sense of purpose by being able to take part in helping another business or person

achieve a goal or making the industry better.

 

 

Connection

By socializing with people and groups outside your business, you have the opportunity to grow your network. Find entrepreneurs or local teams you can merge with, or businesses and professionals you can tap for a particular task. You can even find people with similar interests—somebody you can play sports with perhaps, or someone who also enjoy your kind of music.

 

A coworking space can connect you to interesting individuals and teams. Connections made can help in client acquisition, recruitment, and referrals. When you grow your network, your business can grow too.



FUN FACT:

Spotify was just one of those tech startups in a coworking space in San Francisco, USA. Rocketspace, the owner of the coworking facility, offers programs to tech startups and connects them with industry experts and investors. This shows the positive impact of networking in collaboration spaces to startup companies wanting to make it big in business. 

 

 

Cost

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By now, you already know that coworking is the most cost-efficient office type with flexible payment terms, scalable office solutions, and fully-equipped facilities.

 

But this long list of coworking benefits doesn’t end here. See below even more ways on how 

coworking allows companies to save on business expenses and other expenditures:

 

  • No need to invest in physical security like CCTVs, sensors, and security personnel.
  • No need to hire an additional team to do office maintenance.
  • Attend workshops and talks necessary for work and career development without the huge cost.
  • Minimize the need to participate in business expos and other events for exposure or networking.
  • Save on business support services such as recruitment, accounting, legal, and graphic design. 
  • Get exclusive discounts and privileges from business software to airfares.
  • Free refreshments like coffee, tea, and water your team and your guests.



FUN FACT:

August 9 is International Coworking Day. There’s a good chance you’ll get a discount or a free pass on a coworking space on this day. (After all, they give free donuts on National Donuts Day!)

 

Convenience

Besides being a fully-furnished and plug-and-play office, coworking brings you more convenience by providing a flexible office you can use in different locations. 

 

That’s right. With a coworking space, you can have offices in different cities, business sites, or even countries. You can be working in Makati today, and move to Ortigas tomorrow to conduct a project briefing, or fly to Malaysia the next day and invite a potential partner for a coffee in an office you can be proud of.

 

That’s because many coworking spaces have facilities in various places around the metro and the world. This is also convenient for your clients or other people important to your business as they can meet you in the office location nearest them.

 

TIP!

When choosing a coworking space, check their global locations and see if they have a facility in countries where you frequently go. Normally, even if your membership is here in the Philippines, you have the privilege to use their office spaces in other countries at no extra charge.

 

 

Culture

This part proves how coworking spaces outshine traditional offices. Coworking spaces are more spontaneous and casual than still and ceremonial; more vibrant and dynamic than stale and monotonous. It promotes the value of community than the pressure of competition. 

 

Cutting-edge technology, organization, and business process take precedence when it comes to productivity and efficiency for a lot of corporations. But coworking puts significance to creating a more positive and relaxed office culture and many larger companies are beginning to see its benefits. 

 

It’s difficult to work in an environment where toxic behaviors, such as gossiping and office bullying, are prevalent. Productivity is generated by employees. And if employees are not happy, it usually shows in their output. 

 

A coworking space also solves the problem of having a stressful work environment. The vibrant and artsy interiors of coworking spaces are not just for display. It inspires people to enjoy their work, to think outside the box, and to care about other coworkers. With a beautiful office that has a positive office culture, people would want to work there.

 

Community

Having the opportunity to help gives meaning to people’s work, and allows them to feel that they belong to a community. These are some of the reasons why people thrive in coworking spaces more than their regular-office-working counterparts according to a Harvard Business Review study.

 

Even for members who chose to have less interaction with others, they still expressed a strong sense of identity with the community based on the same research.

 

A supportive community makes coworking spaces a healthy breeding ground for budding startups to grow, and for growing companies to grow even more. But mature corporations can also benefit from a coworking community through tailored events and activities. After all, they too, need care and strengthening to be able to continue in business.

 

FUN FACT:

Aside from Spotify, there are other success stories in coworking spaces that feature today’s big-name

corporations. Uber, Instagram, and Hootsuite all sprung from coworking spaces before they conquered the world. 

 

Corporate identity

With so many different individuals and teams working under one roof, it’s easy to think that coworking would lead one to lose sight of its corporate identity. But nothing could be further from the truth.

 

In fact, members of a large coworking space in the US were surveyed by Harvard Business Review and majority of them expressed a strong association with their respective organizations. When you’re in the presence of the unfamiliar, you learn to appreciate what’s familiar. Working around people and groups outside of your company makes you identify better with your own company.

 

The research also suggests that businesses should take the time to consider how coworking

spaces can affect the image they want to portray. This will not only cause employees to align with the business’s corporate identity and values, but also create a positive impression on

potential clients.

 

Here’s another ‘C’ you need to know when it comes to coworking spaces!

 

Common Ground. The largest coworking space provider in Malaysia is now here in the Philippines, with three coworking facilities in Metro Manila’s prime business locations: Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Ortigas.

 

Every coworking site boasts of well-designed interiors with a perfect balance of professionalism and style. They offer comfortable work areas, business-class equipment, and high-speed internet so you and your team can get the work done without any stress and hassle. 

 

Common Ground has always welcomed companies and professionals from different industries and line of work, building a diverse and dynamic community that helps members take their businesses to the next level. They provide a strong support and enriching work experience that fuel ambition. Book a tour now and see for yourself.  To know more about Common Ground, check our website or Facebook page.

Schedule a tour now

 

Topics: coworking, coworking benefits, coworking 101, coworking guide

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