proliferation of co-working spaces
Posted at 0:01h, 10 Jun 2014 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

You might have noticed  that there seems to have been a proliferation of co-working spaces, especially in New York. Co-working spaces are the new black. Both General Assembly (which is no longer a co-working space, but that’s where they started) and AlleyNYC have investments from VCs. Which doesn’t mean that they’re going to invest in you or in your company, and not all co-working spaces are the same, so choose wisely if/when you decide to take up residence in one and some things to consider:

  1. Most spaces allow you to work out of the space for a day as a try out. Take advantage of the opportunity.
  2. Talk to others working in the space. How long have they been there? What’s their focus or the focus of their company? Have they gotten anything out of the space, besides a place to work and free coffee? And ask about the pluses and the minuses.Are they able to get work done? What’s the ambient noise level like? Have there been any/many robberies (yes, it happens)?  And be polite. Make sure that you’re not bugging them at an inopportune time.

  3. Most spaces host meetups or events. Attend a few. There are always residents around. Talk to them. And make sure that the space doesn’t hold so many events that it’s disruptive/intrusive after a while.

  4. Ask people in a coworking space if they’ve worked at other spaces prior to the one that they’re currently in. Why did they leave those other spaces?

  5. When you’re on your tour, ask questions: What amenities are included? Is there a fee to use the conference room? A private space where you can make phone calls? Is the space available 24/7? Who else is in the space? What do they do, as a profession? Are some potential clients or customers? (this last one you have to figure out on your own, btw.)

  6. Many spaces have hospitality nights/cocktail hours. Find out when they take pace and show up – after you ask first, of course. If there’s a party every night or they start at 10 in the morning, that would be a red flag. Unless you’re in search of a wingman or building a social network/mobile app for the perpetually inebriated.

  7. Find out if any successful companies happened to have started in the space. No, it’s not for the sake of karma: you want to know if the locals are serious in their pursuits and not just a collection of wantrepreneurs. It can be something of an indicator.

  8. Don’t overstay your welcome. If you’re there to check out a space and gather intel while making your decision, remember: that people are there to work. Have your questions ready and after you’ve had them answered, say thank you and leave. They have work to do.

  9. Pay attention to the noise level. What you hear is what you get.

  10. Check out the neighborhood. Are there places to find lunch? Dinner, if you work late and don’t always like to eat at your desk? Is it close to public transportation? What’s the commute from home? If it’s not easy to get to, chances are you won’t show up as often as would justify your taking that office in the first place, no matter what the vibe/amenities.

  11. If you plan on scaling up soon, even if that only means adding one or two more people, make sure that the space can accommodate that. Unless you don’t mind changing offices every few months.

  12. If you’re in the general coworking space rather than in a private office, check to see if there is a secure storage facility in the space that you can rent/have access to as well. Unless you don’t mind dragging your laptop with you wherever you go.

Yes, we do personally work out of one of these spaces, in a private office. It’s not our first time at the dance, so we do speak from experience. So, do your homework. Again, choose wisely and next week, back to our regularly scheduled vitriol. Onward and forward.