A guide to co-working spaces

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My coworking space is so important to me. Working from a great office makes such a difference when it comes to productivity, focus, and sparring. That’s why I’ve ditched my usual update this week in favour of a guide to finding a great co-working space, either for your full-time job or your (semi-professional) hobby.  

The reason why I chose a co-working space in the first place, is because I know what I’m like when I work from home: I always find a ton of distractions and excuses to procrastinate, and my brain simply doesn’t register what I do as real work - especially if I’m working alone in my pyjamas.

In other words: It’s important to me to have a workplace with colleagues, certain standards for casual workwear, and limited access to Netflix.

I was lucky to find a desk at Ideas Lab in Aarhus. Not only is there a great social vibe, I also have a great mentor, and the opportunity to join events like game jams.

If you, like me, are thinking about ditching your home office and join a co-working space, here’s a few things to consider:

 

1. The essentials

I have a desk at an open workspace, free coffee, and a meeting room. That’s it. And I don’t need anything else.

Of course, you can get a beautiful, spacious office, but it’s not cheap, and you might end up paying for a bunch of stuff you never use in the first place. So, ask yourself how many hours you’ll be spending at the office, how far you’re willing to commute, and if you really need a conference room for 20 people on standby.

For me, having an open workspace was an absolute must, for others it might be access to a photo studio. But find out what you simply can’t live without, and write it on your “essentials list”.

 

2. Your budget

If you have a start-up or just want a place to work on a hobby project, chances are you can’t afford big, luxurious office spaces. Find out what your budget is, and stick to it.

"In other words: It’s important to me to have a workplace with colleagues, certain standards for casual workwear, and limited access to Netflix."

 

3. Colleagues and sparring

I’ve heard several times how important it is to have the right colleagues, especially when you work alone. Other people at the office will probably be everything from sparring partners and immediate network to collaborators and friends, so choosing your new colleagues is just as important as the physical space.

In my experience, it’s great to have colleagues, who work within the same broad framework (at Ideas Lab it’s games and digital experiences), but who have a variety of skills. It makes the sparring so much more varied and valuable.

 

4. Mentorships and startup help

If you’ve never started your own company from scratch, you need all the help you can get. That’s why going for co-working spaces or incubators, which offers mentorships or any other startup help, is worth considering.

 

5. Visit potential offices

There’s really only one way to make sure what kind of office is right for you: Pick out a few potential places and visit them in person. No matter what it says on the website and no matter how pretty the photos look, it’s not necessarily a clear representation of what the work environment is really like.

If you can, arrange a meeting with the head or manager of the office and someone, who already works there, and ask them a ton of questions about the physical workspace, events, the social aspect of the office life, etc. That’ll give you an idea of how you would fit in.

 

6. Find alternatives

As I said in the beginning, not working from home is great, and sometimes that’s all you need. If you’re not ready to fully commit to an office space yet, or you can’t find anything relevant, you can always look for alternatives.

Some co-working spaces rent out desks on an hourly or daily basis. You can also explore the possibility of sharing a desk with someone, or even see if there are small companies, which would be interested in sharing their office space.

The same goes for mentorships: If your co-working space or incubator doesn’t provide one for you, find out if you can set up something on your own.

 

7. Starbucks is NOT an office

Speaking as someone, who wrote 50% of her thesis at the local coffee shop, I can not recommend Starbucks as a workplace - not even just to get out of the house. (Not even if six hours of jazzy easy listening versions of Motown classics doesn’t break your spirit and will to live.)

You get so much more from having a desk at a co-working space in terms of colleagues, professional help, and structure. And, as a friend pointed out: “You have space to put up all your post-it notes.”

 

I hope this guide has inspired you to look for co-working spaces for your job, hobby, or maybe even thesis. If you have any questions or recommendations regarding co-working spaces, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.