Why shared workspaces are best for your startup

We talk to James Layfield, CEO of Central Working, about why shared workspaces may be the answer for entrepreneurs looking to grow their business.

Striking out on your own can be a lonely experience. To keep initial costs low, many freelancers or startups launch their business from home. This isolation can come as quite a shock if you’ve been used to the buzz of an office full of people. 

Wi-Fi, laptops, smartphones and cloud apps give entrepreneurs the freedom and flexibility to work anywhere with an internet connection. Shared workspaces introduce startups to a community of like-minded individuals, as well as providing physical office accommodation. James Layfield, CEO of Central Working shares why shared workspaces – sharing a fully-equipped office with other business owners or employees of other companies – may be best for startups.

1. Working collaboratively is the future

The upward trend in the labour market towards self-employment and freelance working is gathering pace and online freelance network PeoplePerHour has predicted that by 2020, fifty percent of the workforce will be working on a temporary, contract or self-employed basis. But shared workspaces are no longer just the domain of the startup.

Businesses of all sizes and shapes are opting for shared workspaces rather than traditional offices. The flexible working approach appeals but the most attractive aspect is the access to a supportive network, populated by people with whom to share ideas or problems. Shared workspaces offer entrepreneurs the best of both worlds – the opportunity to run your business where, when and how you want, as well as the chance to become part of a dynamic community.

2. A strong network is key to business success

Connections are vital to the growth of any business. Working alone is great when you need concentration to focus on a specific task, but on a day-to-day basis, it can be isolating. We’re all social beings and we can achieve so much more when we work together.

Shared workspaces allow you the space to focus on your own project but with the added benefit of close collaboration with others. You can build meaningful relationships with other business owners, sound out ideas, get advice and discover creative solutions. It makes sense to surround yourself with people who inspire you and will help your business to grow.

Creating an environment that inspires creativity and productivity is vital for a happy, successful business. Giants such as Google and Apple know that the magic of innovation happens when people come together to share ideas on a daily basis. These brands put a lot of effort into creating the right environment for their teams, designing spaces that encourage and enable colleagues to come together. This collaborative approach has spurred on their phenomenal growth.

3. Flexibility is best

The traditional model where you rent an office for an extended period of time has been turned on its head – it just doesn’t work any more. Modern businesses need to be nimble and they require space where they can grow at a rate that suits them.

Having the flexibility to scale up or down quickly is important for all businesses, whatever the size or sector. Shared workspaces provide this flexibility – you’re not trapped paying for a huge office that you’ll never fill, and you have the option to increase your space if you require.

4. Focus on growth… and nothing else

Shared workspaces allow business owners to focus on the most important task to hand – growth. Rates, cleaning and bills are included within your membership fee, which means less hassle, less paperwork and more time to concentrate on what you do best – making sure your business thrives.

5. It’s nurture, not nature, that breeds collaboration

Identifying the right shared workspace can be the key to unlocking your startup’s growth potential. You might find the perfect physical space that impresses clients and attracts top talent, but the best shared workspaces actively encourage a supportive, collaborative culture. A dynamic atmosphere isn’t something that just ‘happens’, it needs to be nurtured.

You’ll encounter many spaces that pay lip service to this, but how can you be sure they deliver on the promise of a supportive community?

Ask outright what steps any prospective workspace provider takes to ensure their community is supportive – many simply sit back and wait for connections to occur over time, almost by accident.

Central Working is a collective with thousands of members who help each other to grow, and our staff exist to actively develop this community, making these connections and collaborations happen every day. Our team knows every business in our network and we assess our staff not on how many desks they sell but on how many meaningful business connections they make for our members.

Here are my top four aspects to consider when selecting your ideal shared workspace:

  • Flexibility
    Always avoid workspaces that require you to sign a long-term lease, as shorter leases will give you the freedom to scale and grow as your business requires.
  • Clarity 
    Shared workspaces remove the hassle of bills and maintenance, leaving you free to concentrate on your business. Ensure you understand what is included in your membership fees from the start.
  • Connections 
    Having a strong network is vital to help a new business to grow and succeed. Assess how much emphasis any prospective workplace provider puts on connection – the best don’t sit back and wait for connections to happen, they actively facilitate introductions.
  • Environment  
    No two days are the same, so entrepreneurs need to take into account the need to work in private and the need to collaborate with others on ideas and problems. Ensure your provider offers spaces for any occasion.

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