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Is Co-working Space the Right Fit for your Business?

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists Northern Ireland - Co-working Spaces in Belfast

The rise of co-working spaces in cities across the globe has revolutionized the way individuals and large organizations operate, by offering an alternative to the traditional office setup.

At Calibro we often get asked by clients about co-working space and our experience and involvement in this area. In recent years we have worked on a number of co-working spaces, and indeed we ourselves use a co-working space as a touchdown point during client projects and to facilitate client meetings from time to time. We have found that as with any office style, co-working has its pros and cons depending on the many variable factors of any given business e.g., size, location, nature of the business etc. This blog post explores the pros and cons of the co-working office model, shedding light on the benefits of collaboration, flexibility, and community, as well as the potential challenges that come with shared work environments.

Pros of Co-working Space

1. Cost-effectiveness and Flexibility
Co-working offers unparalleled flexibility compared to traditional office setups, providing individuals and organisations with a variety of payment arrangements such as daily, weekly, or monthly leasing. This flexibility allows individuals and larger teams to adapt their workspace to their changing needs, providing a convenient location to work remotely, a central location to work on short or fixed-term projects or even facilitating an increased headcount of team members whenever the current working environment cannot accommodate this.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions of co-working is the advantage of not having the significant upfront investment associated with setting up a conventional office. With shared resources such as office equipment, utilities, and maintenance costs being divided by a number of co-workers, the overall expense of starting or maintaining an office becomes more manageable, particularly for startups or organizations wanting to test the water in new regions.

However, often when companies grow beyond a certain size and continue to take more desk space within a co-working environment, the cost-effectiveness declines and it becomes more advantageous in the long-term to move to a traditional office setup. This will depend entirely on the arrangement you have in place and the office space that may be available in the market. A good time to evaluate this is when the team head count sits at 15+ people.

2. Networking and Collaboration Opportunities
One of the key advantages of co-working spaces is the opportunity to network and collaborate with other like-minded individuals and businesses. When sharing a workspace with professionals from various industries and backgrounds, individuals can easily connect and share knowledge and ideas, which can often result in new business leads, opportunities, and collaboration on projects.

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists - Co-working Spaces in Belfast Clockwise
Clockwise, located in River House, Belfast

3. Access to Amenities and Infrastructure
Co-working spaces are designed to provide a range of amenities and infrastructure that might otherwise be difficult or too expensive to obtain as a solo professional or start-up with limited finances. This may include, but is not limited to, a range of conference and meeting rooms, workstations, printing and general office equipment which can be of benefit when working remotely or hotdesking.

Additionally, some co-working spaces offer other perks to enhance the working day such as onsite cafes, fitness centres, and recreational areas. Access to these amenities not only saves time and money but also contributes to a professional and conducive work environment that promotes productivity, and staff wellbeing and helps provide a work-life balance.

4. Enhanced Productivity and Motivation
Co-working spaces are often known for their vibrant and energetic atmosphere and modern design, which can significantly boost productivity and motivation, with the absence of household distractions can help create an environment that is more conducive for task completion.
The communal nature of co-working spaces can also help to cultivate a sense of accountability and community, providing support and inspiration, and leading to increased engagement and personal growth for some individuals.

Cons of Co-working

1. Lack of Privacy
While co-working spaces encourage collaboration, they may lack the privacy that certain professions or projects require. Open floor plans and shared common areas can result in a constant buzz of conversations and activities, compromising confidentiality and creating distractions. Although private meeting rooms or designated quiet areas are available in some co-working spaces, they may come at an additional cost or limited availability.

2. Distractions and Noise Levels
Co-working spaces, by their nature, bring together professionals with diverse working styles and preferences and promote collaboration and networking as previously highlighted. This can result in varying noise levels and potential distractions. While some individuals thrive in the dynamic and interactive atmosphere, others may find it challenging and this could negatively impact their performance.

Calibro Workspace Office Design and Fitout Specialists - Co-working Spaces in Belfast Urban HQ
Urban HQ, Belfast

3. Limited Control over Design of the Workspace

In a co-working environment, individuals have limited control over the overall workspace design and ambiance with factors such as lighting, temperature, and furniture typically predetermined therefore limiting the opportunity to put an organisation’s brand look and feel into the space. Although most co-working spaces aim to create a pleasant and productive atmosphere, this may not be to the taste or desire of all individuals working in the space. Additionally, there may be issues that arise in shared spaces such as cleanliness and challenges due to the high turnover of occupants using the space.

In conclusion, there are both pros and cons to co-working spaces. If you or your organisation are just starting out and looking to set up your first office, considering whether to give up your traditional leased office and move into a co-working space, or making the move from a co-working space into a traditional leased office space,, it is important to consider both the pros and cons of this working style and the overall potential outcomes and impact it could have on your business and staff wellbeing. Despite accepting less privacy or being limited on your ability to put your mark on the workspace through branding, the negative impact of these restrictions may be outweighed by the cost savings and flexibility which co-working space can provide.

If you are interested in creating a positive working environment or have any queries around your next steps in establishing your new space, get in touch today on hello@calibroworkspace.com

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