What to Look For in a Coworking Company

Jon Fesmire |

In the last twenty years the way we work, get around, and order food have all changed significantly. This is part of our sharing economy, in which people drive cars they don’t own, order from any restaurant and get food delivered to their door, and work in offices that don’t belong to their company.

While telecommuting from home works for many people, others have picked another option: coworking. Telecommuting is simply working remotely for a company, usually from home. Coworking is working in a shared office you may share with people from a variety of different companies.

Yes, you can telecommute and cowork at the same time if you do your remote work in a shared office. In a coworking situation, you’ll find small companies operating out of one corner, entrepreneurs, freelancers producing art or writing, and anyone else who wants to work in an office, rather than from home.

If you feel more productive in an office setting around other people, if you want a sense of camaraderie, even with people working for different businesses, and if you prefer to have a sense of separation between your work life and home life, then a coworking situation may be just what you’re looking for. If you run a small business with several employees and can’t afford a full office lease, coworking may be right for your company.

Finding a Coworking Site

Before you join the coworking revolution, you’ll need to find a good coworking site. These can range from individual sites that rent out space to larger companies with coworking sites all over the country.

Do a search on Google, Google Maps, or the Coworking.com site to find local coworking spaces. Read the reviews, check out the pictures, and look up their prices. Check how near they are to you. If you need to get to work via Lift, Uber, or public transit, find out how much this will cost. If you’ll be driving to work, find out if parking is covered. Also, check out what’s in the area. Are there good restaurants nearby for when you’d like to grab lunch or dinner or order in? Is there a park nearby should you want to go for a walk on your break?

Next, read up on the amenities of each site. Find out what’s included in your standard space rent, and what may cost extra. Amenities may include the following.

  • Hours Open. What hours is the coworking site open, and do they match your preferred work hours? Ideally, you’ll be able to find a place open 24/7, which is great for when you have deadlines or need to get to the office at odd hours.

  • Multiple Locations. If you don’t travel, a single location may be perfect for you. However, larger coworking companies may have sites all over the country, and your monthly fee may include the ability to work from any site.

  • Speedy Internet. This is a big one. A downside of coworking can be slow internet due to so many other workers getting on the same network. Uploading or downloading large files may be an important part of your business. Make sure the site can handle high Internet bandwidth.

  • Snacks. Does the site provide free snacks, and how many can you get daily? Or, do they have a snack machine with affordable prices? What about free soda? While providing free food may be a big expense for the coworking company, free soda on tap may be much more affordable, though it may add a little to the price of renting space there.

  • Your Desk. At the site, will you have to share a table with others, have your own desk, or even have your own office? Ask about each type and what the price difference is.

  • A Nice Kitchen. One advantage of working in an office is being able to use the shared kitchen. Ideally, your coworking site will at least have a microwave, a coffee maker, refrigerator, sink, and table where you can sit with others and have lunch.

  • Coworking Events. One enjoyable aspect of working in an office is when your company holds an event. This may be beer and snacks after work, going bowling, or any number of other activities. If those working around you in your coworking office put together such an event, enjoy it! This is a good chance to get to know those you share the office with. The coworking site may even host such an event now and then.

  • Space for Private Meetings. Sharing a coworking site doesn’t mean sharing your business secrets with everyone in the office. Sometimes, you’ll need some private space for business or client meetings. Find out how this works. You may need to schedule your meetings ahead of time, or there may be space you can use on an impromptu basis.

  • Other Great Amenities. Some coworking sites provide extras to make professionals feel welcome. These may include an on-site coffee bar, shared office equipment such as printers, pens, paper, and staplers, and even a gym.

Take Some Tours

Every coworking office should have a community manager, someone who works for the hosting company. This is who you’ll report to when you enter the office, particularly on your first day, and they can also give you a tour of the site or have another employee do so.

While you look around, try to get a sense of the culture. Do the other workers look friendly? Do most dress in casual attire or business casual attire? You can decide if you want to dress similarly or not, depending on your style. Ask about the amenities you researched. If allowed, test the WiFi on your phone. And, if possible, ask some of the workers there what they think about it.

Once you’ve toured several facilities, you’ll have a sense of two things: if coworking feels right for you, and if so, which facility you want to go with.

We hope you find a coworking facility that matches your needs and your budget, and that allows you to enjoy your job more.