Thinking of making the move from a home office or coffee shop to a flexible workspace? Keep these factors in mind when you’re checking them out:
Pay Attention to the Vibe. What’s the feel you get when you visit the space? Members live the culture every day and will likely share their view. It permeates the workspace as everyone feels tied to a similar mission.
Some flexible workspaces define their culture by operating a niche center, seeking a specific type of member, like cybersecurity firms, writers, or biotech startups. Other spaces have a random mix or a certain size of companies they want to promote.
Like most traditional office spaces, the vibe in a flexible workspace is contagious, and the right fit goes both ways. Culture is not only the most important consideration, it’s also the hardest to change, yet it’s crucial to match it your company’s vision. Do members appear to freely interact with others or does everyone stay in their own lane? There’s no right answer, it’s just a factor to consider.
More than Just an Office Space. With the right people in place, managers of well-run flexible workspaces will take deliberate steps to create a community. They’ll plan social events, set up learning opportunities with expert guest speakers, and find ways to pull people out of their offices and to get them to collaborate, learn, and grow.
As a result, small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs can interact and maybe even form alliances or client relationships through the member interaction fostered by organized activities. By nature, flexible workspaces offer collaborative interactive spaces, but the staff still needs to bring them to life and encourage people to step out of their offices. Find out what kind of programming a potential workspace has done, what they’re planning to do, and how often it is offered.
But make sure the staff doesn’t go too far, so events don’t become a distraction to those members who still need to work or focus on a deadline.
Amenities: Basic or Deluxe? Amenities are all the rage right now and it seems like each workspace is trying to out-do the next. Basics such as wi-fi, printing, and front desk service are a given, so those extra amenities can be important as a marketing differentiator.
The list continues to grow, from juice bars, rock climbing walls, meditation/nap rooms, and more. Caution: these can be great promotional tools, but they need to be the right fit. As a potential member, make sure the amenities will enhance what you are trying to accomplish and are not a distraction. It might look cool, but do you really envision yourself at that foosball table?
And remember the cost is built into the price you pay for your space. It’s like buying a car. You know the make and model you want, but what about the extras? Do you go with the basic or the deluxe model? There is a cost benefit to picking the proper package.
Flexible workspace options seem endless but doing your due diligence will help you find the perfect fit. And, don’t forget, one of the benefits of the flexible workspace model is that if it doesn’t work out, you are not locked in long term. And when you do find the right environment, there’s opportunity to grow in that space when the time comes.
Mike Kriel is CEO of Launch Workplaces, a management services division of The Brick Companies, that brings flexible office solutions into existing properties and manages them upon opening.