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