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[pullquote]But this encouraging growth sees Toms, Dicks and Harrys with no business running a co-working space opening up their unused leased space and marketing it as such.[/pullquote]
Though the company that made co-working mainstream is facing a crisis after its IPO bid fallout, co-working as a concept is still going strong and is probably not going away.
Co-working space operators are still responding to the strong demand in the Singapore market, partly due to the flexibility that such arrangements bring to occupants. Now companies can rent spaces on a monthly basis instead of signing a multi-year lease directly with a landlord.
But this encouraging growth sees Toms, Dicks and Harrys with no business running a co-working space opening up their unused leased space and marketing it as such.
With many genuine and phoney co-working spaces, even if you don’t fall for fraud, it may be tough to find just the right one.
Hot desk, fixed desk or private office?
Co-working spaces generally offer three options – hot desks, fixed desks or private offices – and it depends on how much you value your privacy. Some co-working spaces further divide the plan.
For example, The Company offers two types of hot-desking options: Flex Desk Limited and Flex Desk Unlimited. The difference between the two lies in access: the unlimited plan grants 24/7 access, while the limited plan grants access between 9 am and 6 pm for fourteen days a month.
[pullquote]… the price for space in Singapore ranges from $15 per hour per hot-desking seat to $49,800 per month for a private office for up to 110 people.[/pullquote]
Based on all the listings available on an office space listing site, the price for space in Singapore ranges from $15 per hour per hot-desking seat to $49,800 per month for a private office for up to 110 people. With such a wide price gap, it boils down to your needs and preferences.
Since you’re taking time to read this guide, we assume that you’re ready to commit to something more long-term. Here are how the monthly plans for one person in the Singapore market stack up.
Hot-desk plans: Between $150 and $750
Fixed desk plans: Between $300 and $1,100
Private office: Between $375 and $2,500
But if the length of your lease doesn’t matter and cost is your only consideration, you’re sorely overlooking the other aspects of the co-working experience and are probably better off renting a regular office. It’s much more economical that way anyway.
What do you feel when you first step into the office? Does it feel vibrant and welcoming or dull and stiff? The vibe that the space emanates is going to affect your mood and how you work. Make sure you are going to feel comfortable working in this setting.
If you will be hosting many clients, consider how the look of the space reflects on your company as well.
Basic office amenities
You won’t want to be scrambling for basic things like printer or a whiteboard when you need one, so check that the space has got your basic work needs covered.
- Wifi: It’s 2019. Any co-working space without fast wireless internet included should fold.
- Photocopier/printer: Are they charging for the use of the machines? If so, what are the rates?
- Meeting/reception area: Are there couches and coffee tables for you to have casual conversations with guests?
- Meeting rooms: How many meeting rooms are there? What are the furniture and electronics available for use? How many free hours are you entitled to? What are the hourly charges? Can you book it conveniently and at a short notice?
- Lockers: Does it cost money to have a locker?
- Pantry: Does the pantry come with basics such as a fridge, a sink and utensils?
[pullquote]Free-flow coffee and tea seem to be the norm these days.[/pullquote]
Many co-working spaces go above and beyond the basics. Free-flow coffee and tea seem to be the norm these days. The offerings vary from self-service instant beverages to a barista hand-crafting your drink to taste. There are spaces that even offer TGIF free-flow beers. If you have these beverages on drip (coffee for me, please), this is a nice little bonus.
Some spaces don’t stop there; they want to feed you too. Their pantry may come fully stocked with snacks, though many spaces charge for the munchies. Look out for free networking breakfasts – it’s a good chance to network with other members while fueling up for the day.
Check the layout
Look at how the space is divided and consider these
- If you’re taking a hot-desking plan, are there areas where you can work quietly and undisturbed?
- Are there areas where you can hold impromptu discussions without the need to book a meeting room and not disrupt the other members?
- Are parts of the space open to the public?
[pullquote]But remember not to treat fellow members as cash cows! Think about how you can give back too.[/pullquote]
One of the greatest things about shared offices is the networking opportunities. Look at the list of members and think about the likelihood that you can work with them. Chances are good that there’s a good mix of industries.
But remember not to treat fellow members as cash cows! Think about how you can give back too.
Almost every co-working space throw the “community” buzzword around in their marketing messages, but few truly take it upon themselves to build one.
Community matters in a co-working space because, among many other reasons, those are the people whom you can potentially collaborate with to take on bigger clients or scale up. Without a community, a co-working space is just an office you report to.
Community events are a primary way that more successful co-working spaces build communities. These interactions are deliberately organised to get members to put down their work and get to know each other better in hopes that every business can grow.
Ask the space about the frequency and format of their community events. Better still, take part in one of them and see for yourself.
[pullquote]A co-working space with a tightly-knitted community should emanate warmth…[/pullquote]
If you can get a free trial pass, another good way to see if there is actually a community is by observing the way members interact. Do they say hi and chat with each other, or do they just pass each other by without even a glance? A co-working space with a tightly-knitted community should emanate warmth and have a little background buzz from people of different companies chatting and collaborating.
Consider if the co-working space is easy to get to, especially if you intend to host events or have clients visit you. Conversely, if you will be visiting clients, it’ll be good to be located to where most of them are.
Also, consider the amenities in the precinct. Make sure it suits your needs and wants.
Accessibility to the office (24/7)
Due to certain limitations, some co-working spaces may only be operational during the day. So if you need access at any time for any reason (maybe you’re a forgetful person who always forgets to bring something home, for example), you should keep an eye out for a space that allows you to get in whenever you want.
The network of offices available
[pullquote]Not only does your membership allows you to continue working overseas, but it also opens doors for your company to expand globally. [/pullquote]
Many co-working spaces with more than one location allow you to use other locations or partners. This is great if your work requires you to move about a lot and meet people at different locations. Just make sure that you check the limitations of using offices other than your base office.
If you travel overseas a lot, consider a co-working space with a global presence. Not only does your membership allows you to continue working overseas, but it also opens doors for your company to expand globally.
This is not so much of an issue if you’re getting a private office that often comes with its own lock. But when you’re taking any of the desk plans, your belongings become a free-for-all, unless you diligently pack your belongings each time you need to use the washroom or leave for lunch. You’ll want to feel safe leaving your valuables around unattended, and a secure environment can put your mind at ease.
Check for secure access (biometric access is ideal), security cameras and human traffic around the desk area.
Go on a trial
You can do all your research and homework on co-working spaces and still may end up at one that doesn’t quite live up to your expectations (damn you, marketing spiel!). The best way to make sure you’re not going to be disappointed is to go on a trial. Most spaces provide trials for you to get a good feel before you commit.
While you’re at it, make a few friends and ask them what they truly think about the space. You might find out things that cannot be uncovered in a day or week.
Consider your needs and preferences
The space that can give you the most bang for your buck is rather subjective. With so many co-working spaces in the market, there’s bound to be one that meets your needs and budget. Shortlist a few and try them out.
Just make sure you don’t end up in one that is nothing more than a leased office unless that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
This post is brought to you by The Company Singapore.
Featured image is the interior of The Company Singapore.
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