7 Tips To Get the Ultimate Value From Coworking During COVID-19

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the business world. Budgets have recalibrated, many workplaces have gone partially or fully remote, and companies of all sizes have come up with new ways of working. Amid all this change, you may have been asking: Is paying for office space worth it? 

Some people have speculated that offices will become obsolete. Others believe that the isolation felt during this pandemic demonstrates precisely why we need physical spaces in which to gather. 

So perhaps “is office space worth it” is the wrong question.

Instead, we ought to be asking: What makes office space worth it? 

Maybe you want a place to escape to so you can focus and get a change of scenery. Maybe camaraderie and connection makes the cost of a shared office worth it for your team. 

Whatever your unique priorities are, the point is we all want a place to work that supports us in achieving our goals and provides tangible value. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workspace. We’ll look at some frequently untapped benefits of coworking and shared offices, and even some ways to use a coworking membership to strengthen your business. 

Coworking Versus Traditional Offices

Before we jump into specific tips, let’s clarify how coworking functions differently than a traditional office — and why it can be particularly beneficial as we move into a new normal. 

Coworking refers to a workspace style in which people from different companies share a common workplace, as opposed to every company maintaining its own office. A key feature of this model is that companies do not have to procure and maintain all of their office resources on their own. There are multiple benefits to this, which we’ll explain next. 

Common Benefits of Coworking

  1. The built-in service of a coworking space allows companies to offload a significant chunk of logistics and office management, thus freeing them up to focus on their core business. 

  2. By pooling resources, companies or self-employed individuals can access all sorts of amenities that they wouldn’t be able to either afford or feasibly maintain on their own. 

  3. Working in a shared environment also opens up all kinds of opportunities when it comes to establishing personal and business connections

  4. Coworking providers act as middlemen between building owners and workspace users, which means that companies don’t have to sign long-term leases when they join a coworking space. Instead, they typically sign up for memberships that run on short-term (e.g. month-to-month) agreements. In this way, coworking provides the flexibility to grow, shrink, or close an office according to real-time needs. 

Now let’s go deeper by exploring tips for how you can get the absolute top value out of your coworking membership during COVID-19 — and beyond. 

7 Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your Coworking Membership

1. Utilize the flexibility of your membership agreement

One of the major draws of coworking is its flexibility. You don’t have to commit to an office for the next three or five years; instead, you can get a workspace that suits your current or near-future needs, then make changes to your office footprint as your business changes. 

If your team is growing or downsizing, you should be able to quickly adjust your workspace plan to fit your current structure and thus avoid paying for space you don’t need. If you need to reprioritize your budget, there could also be ways to lower your workspace costs without sacrificing square footage, because shared workspaces often price offices depending on a variety of factors — e.g. what floor you’re on, window versus interior office, the view, or other features. Coworking staff are there to help you, so always feel free to inquire about your options. 

While flexible terms also give you the freedom to cancel your membership on relatively short notice, a coworking provider may also give you the choice to pause your membership and retain select membership features in the interim, such as your mailing address or business discounts. 

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2. Tap into business discounts

In the coworking model, you pool resources with other individuals or companies. This isn’t just limited to physical resources within the shared workspace — it can apply to business services, too. Some coworking providers have access to deals for their members by treating their membership base as a group, similar to how companies buy into group health insurance. 

Examples of business discounts you might find at a coworking center include reduced rates on hotels, gym memberships, or tools for your company like Amazon Web Services. 

Some of this information may be listed on a coworking provider’s website, or it might be member-only info. In either case, your best bet is to ask the coworking center’s staff directly what kind of business discounts they provide to members. 

These cost-cutting deals can add up to significant savings for you or your team, so leave no stone unturned! 

3. Attend virtual events

Some coworking centers host events in their spaces year-round. During the pandemic, of course, events have largely moved online. 

The major benefit of this is that people have more access to programming than ever. The tricky part is: How do you cut through the noise and find the right events for you? 

At a coworking center, many of the members may share your interests or business goals. You’ll likely find that events presented by your coworking center or fellow members address some of the exact challenges you’re facing at work or speak to your interests. 

You may also find that your coworking community gives you access to events for free, at a lower ticket price, or to programming that otherwise isn’t open to the public. 

These virtual events can be a great way to learn a new skill, boost your business, or make valuable connections. 

Here’s one example of a virtual event you might find on a coworking center’s programming calendar:

4. Plug into community

While a lot of things have changed in the world due to COVID-19, the business world continues to move forward: Investors are still investing. Companies are still looking to partner with disruptive startups. People are still networking. 

One of the most powerful things about coworking is the associated community. Your membership is an instant ticket into a business network, so you may as well take advantage of it. 

Even while respecting social distancing guidelines, a coworking center is a great place to meet new people just by physically showing up. Additionally, coworking communities frequently have their own Slack channels, LinkedIn groups, or internal apps that allow members to connect. 

Don’t be afraid to ask coworking support staff for introductions or suggestions on how to meet like-minded members based on your industry or interests. 

5. Schedule your office time strategically

For many people, returning to the office is a welcome respite after so much time at home. But there may be a variety of factors determining how much time you can or want to spend in the office — and when. 

As many teams continue to navigate remote versus in-person work, think about how to use your workspace to create the best experience for you

Are there certain times of day or days of the week that other people in your household need to use the home for work calls or potentially noisy activities? If you are splitting time between home and the office, it can be helpful to plan ahead and schedule office blocks when your home workspace is likely to be louder, distracting, or otherwise inaccessible. 

Strategic scheduling can also come in handy for rotating team members through your office. Either you can break up a team into groups who are assigned certain days in the office, or you can take a more free-form approach, allowing team members to self-book time in the office. 

With rotational office scheduling, you’ll have less people in the office at a time. This allows teams to simultaneously lower their COVID-19 risks and maintain a smaller (and therefore less expensive) office footprint. 


6. Review COVID-19 protocols

Your workspace is only useful if it’s a safe enough place for you to spend time in, right? 

Earlier we discussed how coworking allows companies to offload infrastructural headaches onto the coworking provider, a feature that’s proven to be quite relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The good news is that coworking providers are responsible for developing safety protocols during this time, which means member companies don’t have to do this work from scratch on their own. A lot of it is taken care of for you. 

However, not all coworking centers have the same guidelines in place. It’s then up to you or your team to evaluate what a current or potential workspace operator is doing to keep you as safe as possible and make sure it’s a good fit. Most providers will have this information on their website and will also be happy to field specific questions about their safety standards.

At CIC, for example, we keep our COVID-19 response regularly updated online, which includes rigorous features like on-site COVID testing for staff and clients, touchless surfaces, and well-distanced workspaces. The video below takes you inside our COVID-conscious workspaces for a closer look.

7. Ask about referral bonuses 

Don’t leave money on the table — ask your coworking provider about referral bonuses! 

Some workspace providers offer their clients rent credits for referring new members. This is a super easy way to lower your costs, just by sharing your positive workspace experience with people you know. 

If you have a friend, family member, or colleague who could benefit from a quiet place to work or a more flexible workspace solution for their team, giving that referral can help them and help you at the same time. So be sure to ask your current or prospective coworking provider about their specific referral policies. 

Make Your Workspace Work for You

Coworking has surged in popularity in recent years because of its flexibility, convenience, and added value beyond the traditional workspace. During particularly challenging or lean times, these features of coworking can benefit you and your business more than ever — especially if you know what you’re looking for. 

From networking opportunities to business discounts, many coworking memberships come with resources that allow you to work more smoothly and effectively. Look at a coworking provider’s website, email them with questions, or ask support staff directly for more insight onto the specifics of their offerings. 

By being a smart user of your workspace, you can ensure that your workspace works for you during COVID-19.

Looking for a coworking space to support your business? Schedule a free, COVID-conscious tour of your local CIC campus to see how coworking can work for you.