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March 2020

5 Reasons a Coworking Space Makes Sense for Your Startup

By | Business, Industry, Tips

If you don’t mind sharing a few office amenities with other startups and entrepreneurs, a coworking space could be a solid option for your business.

Article published by Gemma Church (


About half of U.S. startups choose to run their business from home, but your home office may not be a suitable environment if your startup is growing and you want to bring more people on board or meet with clients. It can also be difficult to separate home and work life, which actually increases your risk of burnout.

When I first set up as a freelance writer, my home office worked out pretty well. But, as my business grew, I started to stagnate at home. It was too quiet. I missed real human contact and I needed a space where I could meet my clients that looked a little more professional.

Trouble was, I didn’t have the cash to pay for a dedicated office space—and my local coffee shop was too noisy to take calls and really focus on more complicated pieces of work.

Then, I found a better way: coworking.

A coworking space brings together remote workers, small business owners and staff, and freelancers in a shared work environment. Big names such as Indiegogo, Instagram, Timehop, Uber, and Wanderfly have even used them.

The key benefit to coworking spaces is flexibility. Each coworking space has a different layout, like an open office with lines of desks and breakout areas, or a more enclosed setup (with private offices and meeting rooms).

You can choose to “hot desk,” (use whatever desk is available) or pay a little more for your own desk. You can also reserve meeting rooms or use a coworking space as a virtual office. Whatever the setup, you will be sharing office amenities and communal areas (such as the kitchen) with your fellow coworkers. It’s important to find a coworking space that’s a match for your startup both in terms of your business requirements and ethos.

Coworking spaces are flexible in their pricing structure and commitment level. The majority will let you rent a space on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.

You can also seek out a coworking community that’s been carefully cultivated to boost your chances of success. For example, some coworking spaces are run alongside incubators (where you are provided with a variety of resources and services to accelerate your business development)—but you may have to apply to work in such spaces. Other spaces target specific industries, like technology or creative pursuits. However, the majority of coworking spaces will accept anyone and everyone.

Of course, there are plenty of pros and cons for startups using coworking spaces. For example, if your startup needs privacy or you would like to design and change your own office layout at will, a traditional office space may be a better option.

But if you don’t mind sharing a few office amenities with other startups and entrepreneurs, a coworking space could be a solid option for your business.

Here are five key reasons to consider coworking:

1. Improved facilities over your local coffee shop or home office

Let’s face it, a coffee shop or your home office can present some challenges to professionalism—namely noise and non-business interruptions.

Coworking spaces come with everything you need to get your work done. An abundance of power sockets, functional furniture, plenty of desk space, and high-speed Wi-Fi connections come standard in most facilities
Dossey Richards, CEO at dev-shop Lotus Technologies, runs his business from the NYC-based The Farm Coworking. He said: “The decision to move from my local coffee shop and work inside a coworking space has been a decision that has dramatically changed my life as well as my quality of living. I’d recommend it to all freelancers, employees, and entrepreneurs looking for a new work experience.”

You also have more control over your work environment compared to a coffee shop. You can choose to plug in your laptop and work in a shared environment if you prefer to work surrounded by like-minded souls, or use a private office space if you need some peace and quiet. Many facilities also rent out meeting rooms for when you need to talk to your clients, and some also have additional areas (such as nap pods or breakout areas) to give you access to a wide variety of working spaces.

Plus, free tea, coffee, and snacks are often thrown into the deal at a coworking space, which could be the final nail in the coffin for working at your local coffee shop.

2. Coworking gives you a flexible and cost-effective solution

A traditional office space rental can be the solution your startup needs, but they generally require a long-term financial commitment.

However, coworking frees your startup to be nimble as it grows and changes.

You can use the space as and when you need to on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis. You can rent meeting rooms as and when you need to. You will not be tied into paying rent for months at a time.

Coworking is also generally a cheaper option than an office rental. For example, if you wanted to work in the Manhattan area of New York, you could rent a shared desk for just $25/day or $250/month; or a dedicated desk is $400/month at a coworking space. Office rents come in at least $1,000/month (depending on the size of office and amenities you need) and come with fixed terms of at least six months in the same area.

3. You will network on a whole new level

Coworking spaces are used by a community of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, so there are plenty of networking opportunities with people who are also trying to build a business.

Dossey said: “What I love about coworking is the access to all the experiences other companies are having. Being an entrepreneur is a learning curve and the speed of your success is limited to the speed you can learn about starting and running a successful venture. Having access to other people to communicate my day-to-day challenges with has been vital to our growth.”

Coworking spaces often encourage inter-community relationships where chats over the water cooler can quickly turn into work exchanges or budding partnerships. If, for example, you’re a tech startup and need someone to help you write a killer press release, you’ll probably find a writer at a coworking space who’ll fit the bill.

“The Farm [coworking space] has and always will be a life changing-experience for me,” says Dossey. “Being in the space with all the other entrepreneurs has given me a level of exposure and insight that would have normally taken years to develop. Through my conversations with other members about topics like sales strategies and hiring, I have been able to grow my company into a profitable and rapidly-growing venture.”

Some coworking spaces double up as event venues and offer their communities a range of ways to meet fellow coworkers and the wider business community. Whether it’s a few free beers on a Friday, a yoga class, a simple lunch and learn session, a high-profile product launch, or a symposium offering training on a new range of skills for your business, you may get the chance to learn something new and meet new people.

Many spaces also encourage their members to host events to showcase skills and market their business. Such events are often promoted by the space, and in some cases, you’ll have experienced community managers on hand to help you with everything you’ll need to run a successful event.

4. There’s plenty of business-based advice available

A coworking space can present a perfect opportunity to get advice on your startup. First, you have access to a community of coworkers with varied experiences and skills that can help you frame a particularly tricky problem. Second, many spaces are run by a team of enthusiastic managers who can point you in the right direction, offer some advice, or help you think through logistics.

Some coworking spaces are also set up as accelerators and incubators; an incubator specializes in growing new and early-stage business and an accelerator offers rapid-growth tools for more established businesses. Both can be resources for information on how to grow your business, depending on your startup’s development stage and needs—whether it’s applying for funding or finding a mentor.

5. A coworking space will grow as your business grows

Another benefit of the flexibility of a coworking space is that you can scale up as and when you need to.

Whether you suddenly need more facilities to match a peak in demand or to employ more staff to help you during busy times, it’s likely that a coworking space can be more nimble and flexible than a traditional office rental situation.

Plus, your employees will thrive in a coworking environment. Research reveals that coworkers feel they have more control over their work, that their work is more meaningful, and they value the community element of coworking.

Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces

By | Business, Industry

“Spending time away from the office at a coworking space can also spark new ideas”

There seems to be something special about coworking spaces. As researchers who have, for years, studied how employees thrive, we were surprised to discover that people who belong to them report levels of thriving that approach an average of 6 on a 7-point scale. This is at least a point higher than the average for employees who do their jobs in regular offices, and something so unheard of that we had to look at the data again.

It checked out. So we were curious: What makes coworking spaces – defined as membership-based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in a shared, communal setting – so effective? And are there lessons for more traditional offices?

To find out, we interviewed several coworking space founders and community managers, and surveyed several hundred workers from dozens of coworking spaces around the U.S. A regression analysis following our survey revealed three substantial predictors of thriving:

People who use coworking spaces see their work as meaningful. Aside from the type of work they’re doing – freelancers choosing projects they care about, for example — the people we surveyed reported finding meaning in the fact that they could bring their whole selves to work. They’re able to do this in a few ways.

First, unlike a traditional office, coworking spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects. Because there is little direct competition or internal politics, they don’t feel they have to put on a work persona to fit in. Working amidst people doing different kinds of work can also make one’s own work identity stronger. Our respondents were given the opportunity to frequently describe what they do, which can make what they do seem more interesting and distinctive.

Second, meaning may also come from working in a culture where it is the norm to help each other out, and there are many opportunities to do so; the variety of workers in the space means that coworkers have unique skill sets that they can provide to other community members.

Lastly, meaning may also be derived from a more concrete source: The social mission inherent in the Coworking Manifesto, an online document signed by members of more than 1,700 working spaces. It clearly articulates the values that the coworking movement aspires to, including community, collaboration, learning, and sustainability. These values get reinforced at the annual Global Coworking UnConference. So in many cases, it’s not simply the case that a person is going to work; they’re also part of a social movement.

They have more job control. Coworking spaces are normally accessible 24/7. People can decide whether to put in a long day when they have a deadline or want to show progress or can decide to take a long break in the middle of the day to go to the gym. They can choose whether they want to work in a quiet space so they can focus, or in a more collaborative space with shared tables where interaction is encouraged. They can even decide to work from home, without repercussion, if they need to meet a repairperson or deal with a family member need.

And while coworkers value this autonomy, we also learned that they equally value some form of structure in their professional lives. Too much autonomy can actually cripple productivity because people lack routines. Coworkers reported that having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them. Thus, paradoxically, some limited form of structure enables an optimal degree of control for independent workers.

They feel part of a community. Connections with others are a big reason why people pay to work in a communal space, as opposed to working from home for free or renting a nondescript office. Each coworking space has its own vibe, and the managers of each space go to great lengths to cultivate a unique experience that meets the needs of their respective members. Grind, for example, is a growing network of coworking spaces in New York and Chicago. Anthony Marinos, who oversees Grind’s marketing, community management, and member services, shared with us, “When it comes to cultivating our community at Grind, we’re all about the human element. We consider ourselves as much a hospitality company as we do a workspace provider. Our staff knows all of our members by name and profession, and we’re constantly facilitating introductions between Grindists.”

Importantly, however, socializing isn’t compulsory or forced. Members can choose when and how to interact with others. They are more likely to enjoy discussions over coffee in the café because they went to the café for that purpose – and when they want to be left alone elsewhere in the building, they are. And while our research found that some people interact with fellow coworkers much less than others, they still felt a strong sense of identity with the community. We believe this comes from coworkers knowing there is the potential for interactions when they desire or need them.

So what are the implications for traditional companies? Even though the coworking movement has its origins among freelancers, entrepreneurs, and the tech industry, it’s increasingly relevant for a broader range of people and organizations. In fact, coworking can become part of your company’s strategy, and it can help your people and your business thrive. An increasing number of companies are incorporating coworking into their business strategies in two ways.

First, they’re being used as an alternative place for people to work. Michael Kenny, Managing Partner of San Diego-based Co-Merge, told us, “In the past year and a half, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of the space by enterprise employees. We have seen teams come in to use various on-demand meeting rooms. We have users from global companies of size ranging from several hundred to several thousand employees who use the space not only to allow their distributed workers to get productive work done, but also to attract employees who demand flexible workplace and work time.”

Grind is also witnessing growth in the number of remote workers who are becoming members. “We haven’t had to reach out to larger organizations, they actually tend to just come to us,” Anthony Marinos says. “We’ve had employees from Visa, journalists from the Chicago Tribune, and even people affiliated with large financial institutions all work out of Grind.”

Spending time away from the office at a coworking space can also spark new ideas. Rebecca Brian Pan, the founder of COVO and former chief operating officer of NextSpace, explained how Ricoh’s innovation team worked out of NextSpace Santa Cruz for several months to observe how people work and where they hit pain points. Based on member insight and feedback, and their own observations, the Ricoh team explored several new products that could help members in their daily work and chose the most highly rated product to pursue. From this effort, Ricoh later launched this product globally as their Smart Presenter, a paperless meeting solution.

Second, the lessons of coworking spaces can be applied to corporate offices. Just as it’s important to encourage flexibility and support your mobile workforce, there is an equally important reality of creating the right kind of work environment inside your own walls. But this doesn’t just mean creating open plan layouts or adding a coffee bar.

In reality, people need to be able to craft their work in ways that give them purpose and meaning. They should be given control and flexibility in their work environment — many companies are increasingly adopting the best planning practice of providing a 1:1 ratio (or close to it) of desk seats to seats in shared settings used for either collaborative work or quiet work.

Companies are also trying to enable more connections, helping people to interact and build community beyond work meetings. Coworking spaces are one place to look for guidance, as they regularly offer networking events, training programs, social events, and even summer camp. Some companies are going even, further, however. Rich Sheridan and James Goebel, founders of Menlo Innovations in Ann Arbor, Michigan, recently expanded their office space by 7,000 square feet so that so that start-ups and early stage entrepreneurs can work alongside Menlo programmers to spur community and innovation.

In a way, the company is reverse-engineering its office into a coworking space.

Our research — which is ongoing — suggests that the combination of a well-designed work environment and a well-curated work experience are part of the reason people who cowork demonstrate higher levels of thriving than their office-based counteraparts. But what matters the most for high levels of thriving is that people who cowork have substantial autonomy and can be themselves at work. Our advice to traditional companies who want to learn from coworking spaces is to give people the space and support to be their authentic best selves. The result will be employees who feel more committed to your organization, and are more likely to bring their best energy and ideas to the office each day. Even if it is corporate headquarters.

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue (p.28, 30) of Harvard Business Review.

Published by Peter Bacevice, Lyndon Garrett and Gretchen Spreitzer

From the September 2015 at

4 Ways to Avoid Loneliness as a Solopreneur

By | Business, Industry, Tips

Article published by Syed Balkhi at Enterpreneur (


Being a solopreneur can be difficult. It means long hours hustling by yourself with no coworkers to bounce ideas off of or shoot the breeze with. Even if you enjoy spending time alone and find you work best solo, loneliness can still take a toll.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”

If you want to improve not only your mental health but also your physical health, make connections with people. These four tactics can help with solopreneur loneliness.

1. Participate in online groups and communities.

Psychologists have found that the more people feel connected to a group, the more satisfied they are with their lives and the stronger their sense of purpose and security. You can make connections as a solopreneur by participating in online groups and communities. Even chatting with people through a computer screen is better than not talking to anyone for days on end.

Joining an online professional group might even get you valuable business advice and insights. For instance, if you own a web design business, you can search for online forums and groups on Facebook or LinkedIn that are specifically for web designers. Since the group is filled with like-minded individuals, you can ask questions, share ideas or get feedback from other members.

2. Work outside of your home.

Working from your home office everyday is isolating. For a change of scenery and the ability to interact with people face-to-face, consider working outside of your home once in a while. Try a coffee shop, restaurant or public library. You could even invest in a coworking space that will provide you with a real office environment where you can work alongside and mingle with other solopreneurs and freelancers.

You might even do your best work when working outside of your home. According to New Scientist, research has shown that a moderate level of ambient noise, like quiet chatter, the clattering of plates or the whir of a coffee machine, improves performance on creative tasks.

3. Attend conferences and networking events.

Attending conferences, workshops and networking events allows you to meet other professionals in your industry as well as boost your skills. You don’t need to travel or have a big budget for this — there are likely many events in or around your own city. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Development Center for details on local events. You can also use a tool like Meetup to find local meetups relevant to your industry. If none exists, start your own! Perhaps other solopreneurs in your area are feeling lonely too.

4. Use your interests and hobbies to connect.

Not everything has to be about business. Why not use your interests and hobbies to connect with other people? If you’re interested in fitness, join a group training class instead of hitting the gym by yourself. Enjoy painting? Go to a group painting class. Like reading novels? Join a book club.


Participating in a social activity unrelated to your business might even give you an opportunity to connect with people without thinking about your business for a while. It might also provide you with an outlet for your creativity or a way to destress. In fact, a study by Matthew J. Zawadzki revealed that “engagement in leisure has a wide range of beneficial health effects.” Participants in the study had more positive moods, less stress and lower heart rates when engaging in leisure than when not.

Just because you run your business by yourself doesn’t mean you should spend all your time alone. Use these tips to avoid loneliness as a solopreneur so you can grow your business and keep your spirits up in order to do the work you must to succeed.


Image credit: skynesher-GettyImages