Is my business right for a co-working space?


14th December, 2018

How to figure out if a co-working space is right for your business

Co-working spaces are touted as the ideal office solution in startup world, but how do you know they’re right for your business?

Sharing your workplace with others is an opportunity to become part of a community of likeminded people striving to make their mark.

You’ll expand your network, have access to experts in their field and share the highs and lows of a variety of businesses.

But, will your business thrive in this environment? Will you fit into the culture? And what do you do when it’s time to grow your team?

READ: Will a co-working space be too busy for me?

I sat down with Sheree Rubinstein, founder of OneRoof Women and Tobi Skovron, founder of Creative Cubes.Co to answer these questions.

What types of businesses are best-suited to a co-working space?

Value alignment is clearly more important than an ideal business type when it comes to co-working.

Skovron says that “there’s a stigma out there that co-working is for startups” but the reality is that “startups make up less than five percent of the Creative Cubes community”.

Most of their members are small-to-medium businesses and Skovron believes that this dynamic works as these businesses “really enjoy engaging” with startups as they “draw a lot of inspiration from them”.

For One Roof, it’s also crucial to have a diverse mix of businesses.

Rubinstein noted the One Roof community varies “in terms of industry, stage and type” and has “everything from a freelance graphic designer to a 20-person, high-growth, global tech company”.

For Rubinstein, it’s vital that any new members “are businesses that align with our values, that are keen to work in a vibrant shared work space and want to be part of a supportive and collaborative community”.

Culture and community

Cultural fit and readiness to engage with the community are key things to consider before joining a co-working space.

For Rubinstein, community and culture “mean everything” to One Roof, and she stresses that “we take pride in how we foster our community” and won’t just accept anyone through the doors.

“We have a vetting process through our one-week free trial,” said Rubinstein.

“This gives us sufficient time to get a sense of how that business interacts with the community and whether they are an ideal fit.”

So, when might a business be turned away from a co-working space? Rubinstein mentions two cases:

“If there’s too much competition within a particular industry,” or a business “demonstrates that they do not share our values and ethos, respect for other members, a desire to succeed and elevate others around them to success”.

READ: Co-working as tourism

As a member, you need to be willing to share your expertise, celebrate the wins and lift other tenants during the hard times in business.

Skovron also has some strong views on culture, stating that “the integrity, the quality, the class and execution of our community is second to none”.

Being able to afford the rent is not enough, it’s about your attitude.

“If you show up with a bag of money to Creative Cubes looking for a space and you’re not part of the right culture, if you’ve not got the right mindset, if you’re not of the right frame of mind, if you’re not of equal value, if you’re not a person that want to share, then there’s no amount of money that can get you through the door,” said Skovron.

At what point will you outgrow your co-working space?

So, you’re expecting rapid growth and the team is expanding. How do you know when you’re too big for co-working?

According Skovron, it might be as simple as outgrowing the physical space available.

“If the space can’t flex any further, it may be time. That said … we ask all members for their growth plans, so we can ensure we serve their growth before accepting more members.”

The trajectory of your business will determine whether you’ve outgrown co-working.

Rubinstein sees this in a positive light.

“When businesses outgrow One Roof, we deem this as a measure of success.”

READ: How flexible work arrangements can transform your business

So, is co-working right for your business?

Clearly there’s no ideal business size of or type to determine fit.

It’s not about your product or your industry, it’s about your mindset and willingness to contribute to the community.

If that sounds like you, co-working may be the thing to propel your business to new heights.