Joining a co-working space or shared office space is much more than simply another business expense. Using a collaborative work space is beneficial to freelancers, entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses because it offers opportunities that traditional work arrangements do not. Some of the advantages of co-working include being able to access materials and opportunities that are not as accessible to a freelancer in a coffee shop or a small business struggling to pay for a lease. Here are six concrete reasons to consider using a collaborative work space for your startup.
One of the most well-known advantages of co-working is access to large and small shared materials and amenities that come standard at most traditional offices but are hard for freelancers and small businesses to acquire. For example, members of a collaborative work space have access to printers, copiers, wi-fi, and other office supplies. These materials are typically expensive to own, so small businesses will save money when they do not have to put up the capital to purchase these items. Members at the shared office space will also have access to other smaller conveniences such as coffee, tea, and snacks. Some co-working spaces, such as Alley, even sponsor a weekly catered lunch for members. There are even more intangible perks that come from using a shared office space, including greater brand awareness and a healthy sense of community. All of these amenities save money and time, and they help to build a positive culture perfect for getting work done.
Finding opportunities to network can seem like a full-time job for any entrepreneur! After all, the larger your network, the greater your chances of getting new referrals or leads. Fortunately, another advantage of co-working spaces is the many networking opportunities they offer. At Alley, for example, all members have access to a directory of other members, so it is easy to reach out and learn about other companies that are using the same space. Most collaborative work spaces also provide regular continuing education events and social events, which provide more great opportunities to meet potential clients and partners while sharpening your own skills.
Most freelancers and small businesses try hard to keep their work separate from their personal lives. A business address not only helps to strike this balance, it also lends legitimacy and professionalism to any company. Most co-working spaces give members their own business addresses, and mail is sent to the site. There’s no need to get an expensive lease just for the address!
Let’s face it, working from home can be distracting. It can be hard to get work done for your business when there is the temptation of household work or the television just a few feet away. It can also be distracting trying to work in a public space where there are many noises and multiple things are going on. Collaborative work spaces solve these problems. There are fewer personal temptations and large distractions at a co-working space, and you can even be inspired by the productivity of those around you. By their nature, these spaces can also help increase creativity, leading to better ideas and designs from you and your team. In general, it is helpful for small teams to have a dedicated place to meet. If you are trying to do all of your collaborative and creative work through phone and email, it will take much longer than just meeting at your shared office space, which leads us to the next point…
Collaborative work spaces are not only a great place to meet with your team, they also offer an ideal location to meet with potential clients. After all, meeting with clients in public spaces can get expensive. Even just drinks and an appetizer for your team and their team can quickly add up! The alternative-getting a lease- could be even worse. The advantage of co-working spaces is that members have regular access to meeting rooms for these kinds of occasions. They can serve some of the complimentary coffee or order in food, and the actual meeting space again contributes to a sense of professionalism that can help win more contracts.
Co-working spaces cost money, so how can they also lower costs? For freelancers and startups, the alternative to a co-working space is often a meeting in a public place like a coffee house. There, you will generally buy yourself a $5 latte (or two) and a $4 pound cake to justify using the space, and these expenses quickly add up. Unlike your lattes and pound cakes, co-working space membership costs are usually tax deductible. Some growing companies with several employees or partners may consider leasing a work space, but this also comes with certain cost considerations. What if your company grows and the lease is inflexible? Where will you get the capital for larger office amenities such as a good printer and copier? In addition to these cost advantages of co-working, the increased productivity mentioned above eliminates opportunity costs. If you are getting more done in less time, this gives you more time to grow your business.
There are many advantages to using a collaborative work space. Not only do they give small business access to professional amenities such as printers, meeting space, and business addresses, but they also increase productivity. These benefits, combined with networking opportunities and lower total costs, can help your business to grow faster than you ever thought possible.
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