Starting up

Could a shared workspace work for you?

3 min read

There’s many a household-name business that started out of the owner’s spare room at home.

But if you’ve been doing that for a while, and feel like it might be time to spread your wings – as well as create more separation between work and home life – then a shared workspace could be worth investigating.

Shared workspaces are premises from which a number of businesses operate and share a certain level of resources, such as Wi-Fi, printers, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities. While the idea is not a new one, shared or co-working spaces have exploded in popularity in recent years thanks to innovations such as cloud-based technologies that allow for more flexible working arrangements.

Why would you use a shared workspace?

For small business owners looking to move out of a home office, these workspaces can also be a cheaper and more flexible option than renting or buying premises of their own. However, many of the benefits business owners working in these shared spaces talk about are cultural.

Being a small business owner can be lonely, so sharing a space with others who are on the same journey can be hugely beneficial, providing a sense of camaraderie and a crucial support network.

Business is ultimately about making connections and due to working in close proximity with other businesses, shared workspaces can prove fertile ground for sharing ideas, networking and collaboration – all of which have the potential to grow your business.

Is a co-working space right for you?

So how do you figure out if a shared workspace might work for your business? A good approach is to try them out.

There are now shared workspaces in towns and cities across New Zealand, and in the larger centres there are a wide variety of options. Different spaces will offer different things in terms of their working environments, facilities, cost and tenancy commitments, and it’s amazing what’s on offer.

BNZ’s new community 101 co-working space in central Christchurch, for example, offers hot desks and meeting rooms that can be booked online free of charge for as long as you need – from an hour to a week.

Before making a commitment to any space it’s a good idea to spend some time there to check there’s a cultural fit with your business – both in terms of the workspace and its resident businesses. It’s important it ‘feels’ right, and most shared workspaces will allow potential residents to trial a space first.

Making the most of a shared workspace

And once you’ve made the leap to locating yourself in a shared workspace, you’ll find the rule ‘you get out what you put in’ generally applies.

The more you involve yourself in your shared workplace community the more opportunities you’ll find to make the connections that will help grow your business. Many co-working spaces also run events – often open to members of the wider business community too – such as workshops, seminars and networking functions, which offer business owners opportunities to broaden their knowledge and widen their networks.

Co-working spaces typically have a broad range of resources and facilities, so ensure you make the most of them: book the meeting rooms so you can bring clients into the space; use any in-house technology to help you in your day-to-day work; and, of course, make use of the coffee machine. The community managers who oversee theses spaces can also be valuable resources to tap, as they are often highly connected and a great source of contacts.

Lastly, be respectful of the communal nature of co-working. You’ll build much better relationships with your office mates if you respect the rules of the space, and demonstrate good manners. Keeping the kitchen tidy, conducting heated phone calls in private areas and playing your own music through headphones are small considerations that will take you a long way.