The amount of freelance and independent workers has increased drastically in recent years. And with that growing trend of non-traditional workers, co-working spaces have also experienced drastic growth.
If you haven’t checked out any co-working spaces recently, then you might think they’re just open spaces with desks and WiFi. But today’s co-working spaces offer a number of other features that freelancers could find helpful.
Here are some of the features you might find in today’s co-working spaces.
Freelancer Co-Working Spaces Now Include. . .
You can consider a connected office a baseline for any co-working space. Most, if not all, of the spaces you’ll find should offer features like WiFi, printing, outlets and working spaces.
Private Conference Areas
While many co-working spaces offer simple desks or cubicles in a fairly open atmosphere, you may also find some that offer private offices or at least designated spaces that you can use for meetings or calls, such as conference rooms or phone booths. So if you need a space for meetings or more private work, you can look for a space that offers conference rooms or even office space that you can reserve or rent.
Parking should also be among the features that you look for in a co-working space. No matter what you need when you’re actually there, you need to have a convenient way to actually get there. Some co-working spaces have dedicated parking lots, or at least lots that you can pay to gain access to. Others might be conveniently located near public transportation.
Proximity to Restaurants and Other Businesses
Another convenience factor to consider is the space’s proximity to restaurants, shops and other business that you may need to visit on a regular basis. If you can run some errands, work related or otherwise, on your way to and from, or even on breaks from your workday, it can free up some precious time for you. Some co-working spaces have even built restaurants or shopping into their locations, such as Bespoke in San Francisco.
Co-working isn’t just about having a place to work. One of the biggest benefits of co-working can sometimes be the access to other entrepreneurs who you could potentially bounce ideas off of or collaborate with. So if that’s something that’s important to you, look for a space with an open atmosphere, collaboration spaces and other professionals who you may be interested in working with.
Odeen Domingo, founding member of CO+HOOTS in Phoenix, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “People should find a space that has deliberately designed their location and their culture to create collaboration. People looking for a coworking space should find out what the culture and interaction is like among member companies and see if it’s a good fit for what they’re looking for. Are they looking for a space with companies of the same skill set or a slew of different industries (or both) to collaborate and learn from?”
Some co-working spaces even focus on specific industries or types of entrepreneurs. For example, Geekdom in Houston is a co-working space that focuses specifically on technologists, developers and creative entrepreneurs. This could be helpful if you’re looking to collaborate with people in a particular industry or type of business.
You may also want to look into the atmosphere of each co-working space, particularly when it comes to things like noise and distractions. You can ask if they have any quiet hours or noise policies. Or you could see if the space allows visitors so that you can get a feel for the environment.
Maria Alejandra Marquez, co-founder of TamboWorks in Miami, told Small Business Trends in an email, “If you are not experienced with working in a co-working space, you need to evaluate if you can adapt to work in open spaces, with noise and buzz, but also to follow some etiquette regarding how you take your calls or hold meetings. To be part of a community requires some balance between your own behavior and your tolerance.”
If you’re not necessarily looking for the entire co-working experience, but still want some of the features, you can look for a space that offers virtual office features. For instance, many of them offer mailboxes or phone lines that you can use to organize or make your business appear more professional, without paying for or committing to a full co-working experience.
Many co-working spaces like Think Big Coworking in Kansas City, Missouri are connected to business incubators or startup accelerators so that you can get even more growth benefit.
If you don’t want to get into a full accelerator program, but still want some growth or learning opportunities, you might look for a co-working space that offers courses, workshops or other educational opportunities. Geekdom, for example, offers members access to courses and educational resources related to things like coding.
Community involvement and philanthropy can also help some co-working spaces stand out. CO+HOOTS, for example, has a foundation that focuses on educational initiatives.
If you want an experience that’s truly all-inclusive, you can even look into spaces that include co-living along with co-working. Even WeWork, one of the biggest names in co-working, is working on a co-living space for those who want to live where they work.