A coworking space is great for companies of all sizes, but it benefits startups the most.
Companies that are starting in the business usually have the disadvantage of having limited resources. Therefore, they need to make sure that these are correctly allocated so that they can operate until they become stable enough to expand and make the business stronger. This means funds should go to the more important aspects of the business such as workforce and materials.
A physical office can help in establishing the legitimacy of a company, but it also comes with the burden of overhead expenses that need to be settled regularly. For this reason, startups should look for alternatives that could function the same way but not eat into an already tight budget.
The Coworking Space: Getting Companies Moving
Most of us probably know that Apple, the most valuable company in the world in 2020 (and number 2 this year, as of this writing, behind oil giant Saudi Aramco), began its operations in the garage of the family home of Steve Jobs. Microsoft, Google, Disney, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Amazon also started from their founders’ respective garages.
Of course, a garage can only do so much, and in the case of the abovementioned successful companies today, there were special circumstances that helped their founders get a firm foothold even when they were just starting in their business. What we’re trying to say is that not every company that starts in a garage has been successful, then and now.
Fortunately, startups have a better alternative now to the lowly garage of yore, and they’re known as coworking spaces. Although they are not for free, what they usually charge is way lower than a normal office.
And that’s about what a new company will need to shell out, as most of the features and amenities of a normal office are covered by such a relatively small fee. There are no recurring overhead expenses such as electricity, water, janitorial services, and even unlimited coffee or tea for the employees.
No wonder such an arrangement has taken off, especially in the light of a hybrid working setup brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And even though coworking spaces officially began only in 2005, they have already spawned their share of successful companies that are now considered giants in their field. Here are 12 of them that should inspire every other startup to try the coworking space formula instead of trying to set up their own office from the get-go.
Successful Dozen: From a Coworking Space to the Top of the World
The companies on this list might have had lofty dreams when they started, but it would be safe to presume that they never imagined how big they would get — especially when they could not afford to set up their own office initially and had to rely on the services of coworking spaces. Interestingly, this is most likely one of the main reasons why they reached great heights.
As coworking spaces already provide not only the ideal atmosphere for creative work but the basic utilities as well (such as electricity, water, and internet), these companies were able to focus on what mattered most: perfecting their product/services and making the business strong and stable, allowing them to grow and expand.
Here they are now, arranged alphabetically:
Arcweb Technologies started in a Philadelphia coworking space. It’s a product and design development company whose clients include DirecTV, Comcast, and Capital One. Arcweb also worked with MakerBot, a desktop 3D printing company, successfully integrating its Replicator 2 software across seven different operating systems.
This mobile app development company began in a coworking space in Fishers, Indiana. It’s one of the few to do so to help the also fledgling coworking company to gain ground. Its CEO’s insight and charity paid off as Bluebridge has since grown and is able to establish its own dedicated office.
Technically, this software-as-a-service company started in the kitchen of its founder’s mother’s house but soon found it to be too small. So, the next best thing was a coworking space in Berlin that charged minimally but offered an environment full of support and collaboration. It didn’t take long for Ezeep to become what it is today—a valuable company that helps businesses with their printing infrastructure to reduce waste.
Just like Bluebridge, Haven traces its humble beginnings in a coworking space in Fishers, Indiana. Its app and service proved to be such a hit among homeowners. Through the app, users can register their homes and be reminded of maintenance and improvement. Homeowners also receive recommendations on home service experts. The company was soon able to move into its own office space as its growth became phenomenal.
Its cloud-based tool to help users manage all their social media accounts from a single dashboard is now used by more than 800 companies included in the Fortune 1000—a mere fraction of its 15 million total users. The team behind Hootsuite credited their days staying at a coworking space in San Francisco for helping them develop because of the important connections that they made there.
Another former startup that grew from a coworking space, Indiegogo is now recognized as a “revolutionary crowdfunding platform” that has raised more than $15 billion in total since it was established. Its founders say the support they got from the coworking space is one of the reasons they were able to become such a big company now.
Whoever doesn’t have an Instagram account? Probably a minute portion of the population since its monthly users are more than a billion. Not bad for a startup trying to perfect their app in a coworking space that wasn’t only affordable but had flexible terms as well to afford its founders one less stress to deal with.
Nuracode began its journey into its software and application development services in a coworking space in Atlanta, Georgia. Composed of African Americans, the company deals with other organizations for their digital marketing needs. It has also developed a customer-feedback application that makes use of people’s actual voices.
This popular audio streaming platform started its business in the same San Francisco coworking space as Hootsuite even though it was created in Stockholm, Sweden. The service was an apparent response of its founders to the music piracy happening worldwide, no thanks to The Pirate Bay, Napster, and Limewire.
Spotify offered users a better way to enjoy and download their favorite songs while fairly compensating the owners of those songs. It proved that people wouldn’t mind paying a subscription fee if the service and the products it offers are really good. Today, it has more than 180 million premium subscribers and 406 million worldwide monthly active users.
Regular Facebook users should have enjoyed at least once the Timehop app that allows them to look back at photos posted on the social media platform several years back and to connect with the other people who were also on those photos. The company behind the app launched it from a New York City coworking space, with its founder and CEO acknowledging that the place gave him a conducive environment from which to develop his product.
What started in a coworking space in Brooklyn, then later in San Francisco, became the behemoth brand known across the globe and became synonymous with getting a ride easily and not depending on taxi service. The company’s co-founders got their idea from a simple question one snowy evening in Paris while waiting futilely for a taxicab to pass by: “What if it was possible to find rides using a mobile device?” And so, amidst the creative atmosphere of a coworking space, the Uber ride-hailing app was born.
This company is a fine example of how a perfectly good idea can easily turn into gold. With just a few employees plus its four co-founders, Wanderfly started in a coworking space in Soho, New York, basically a “travel inspiration” website aimed at helping people find the best places they can visit based on their budget and interests. One year later, popular travel site TripAdvisor bought Wanderfly, for how much it wasn’t disclosed.
How a Coworking Space Can Help Jump-Start Your Business
Twelve companies, 12 compelling reasons why any startup should look into a coworking space for its physical office setup. Especially now when a hybrid working setup is in place as a result of the pandemic, companies need a more flexible solution to their office needs to fit the different work schedules of employees.
With some coworking spaces opening their doors 24/7, businesses can conduct their operations at any time of the day, with employees assigned to different time zones for clients that may be located in various parts of the world. Here are what an ideal coworking space offers:
It’s been mentioned before but we need to mention it again, not all coworking spaces are created equal. Many would be offering their services at a lower fee and it’s because they provide just the basics when it comes to office amenities. The ideal coworking space, however, the one that can get your startup hit the ground running, has the following “basic” offerings:
Print and Scan
Sure, the world is trying to move to totally digital and paperless transactions, but having important documents printed on paper, wet signed, and then photocopied is still very much a part of office life. So, make sure your coworking space offers such a service as part of your agreement with them. This is simply a given, but you will be surprised that others actually don’t have it.
There will be times when you would need to discuss things with your employees face to face or even online. Or you need to talk to a client or a possible investor. You obviously can’t do that with people from other offices nearby and hearing your conversations.
That’s where a conference room becomes essential. It need not be large but enough to comfortably fit enough people in. Acoustics should also be good so that sound inside won’t leak out while noise outside won’t come in. Bonus points if it has great speakers, microphones, and even projectors.
This should not even be included in this list because it has become as basic as office chairs and tables that every coworking space needs to have. How could a company conduct its day-to-day business, such as staying connected with work-from-home or out-in-the-field employees if it doesn’t have an internet connection? And mind you, it should be fast and dependable, otherwise, it will be practically useless or even detrimental to a company’s business.
Secured Network Infrastructure
Trade secrets are the bread-and-butter of most organizations, so it is crucial that they can conduct their businesses without being exposed to cybercriminals. A coworking space must ensure that its IT network is safe and secure.
Phone Booths/Call Areas
When connecting with clients or investors or even with co-workers who might be on official business outside, we’d want to have a more private conversation to avoid being eavesdropped on. Since a coworking space is practically a beehive for different organizations, having a call area or “phone booth” would ensure the needed privacy.
Not everyone will have the time or the money to eat out every working day. So, it’s imperative that they have a dedicated place to dine in or to even cook or heat their food. It’s one way to make them feel at home and to minimize the distraction from work compared to if they need to go out of the office to get something to eat.
Not for your regular mails and other missives, obviously, but for documents that need to be printed and signed. The same goes true for packages that may contain samples of your products sent to would-be customers and other items that can’t be sent by email, private messages, or fax. A coworking space that also offers mail service would be a better choice.
Video Conferencing Equipment
With many companies embracing the hybrid working setup, there will always be instances when videoconferencing is needed. So too when a remote client would need a demonstration of a product or service. For this, you would need either Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meets, or Zoom along with a capable monitor and sound system.
Back-Up Generator or UPS
Fortunately, most buildings today where coworking spaces can be found have a backup generator to cope with the metropolis’ notorious power outages, so it’s just a matter of minutes before everyone can get back to work after a brownout. It will also be good to have uninterrupted power supply units in place so that people will have time to save their work when the power goes down.
Coworking spaces may be fostering creativity and professionalism, but we still should not be too complacent about our personal belongings as well as company assets such as laptops and other gadgets. Having a prominent CCTV system on the premises will be a strong deterrent to those who might get tempted by all the expensive gadgets lying around.
RFID Access Cards
Not only will these prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to the coworking offices, but they are also a good way to monitor who comes in or goes out of the premises, just in case an incident happens and there’s a need to find out who the responsible person is.
A Great Front Desk
Highly trained front desk staff is a coworking space’s frontliners and defines what can be expected from the service. They should be capable of answering clients’ and visitors’ queries and attending to phone calls in a professional manner as well as concerns.
You wouldn’t know the value of housekeeping until you see the used plates and glasses piling up in the kitchen sink or the restroom starting to stink. That goes for defective office equipment remaining unrepaired. Any self-respecting coworking office is sure to have an efficient housekeeping workforce.
Clients working at odd hours in a coworking space would surely feel safe and secure working within the premises if they know that there is 24/7 security in place. With one less thing to worry about, they can focus their attention on what matters to them, which is to grow their business.
Now these separate the great coworking spaces from the merely good ones.
If you get a choice between a coworking space that charges less but has no parking space to provide for its clients and one that charges more but has this feature, we say go for the second one anytime. In this country where parking spaces are a premium, a coworking space that offers them is definitely most welcome. Your employees and clients will thank you for it.
Snacks and Hot and Cold Beverages
One more thing that will endear you to your employees and clients is if they can get free coffee, sodas, or snacks when they need them. This may seem like a simple treat but for workers, it represents a gesture that their company appreciates them and takes good care of them. So, look for a coworking space that offers this special feature.
Community Events and Workshops
Not all coworking spaces offer these services, so if you can find one that does, it’s something you should consider highly. Community events provide a fantastic opportunity for networking that not only your company can gain benefit from but even your employees.
Workshops, on the other hand, are an effective way to help your workforce improve their skills or help them achieve a better frame of mind or emotional stability.
Gym and Gaming Zone
Other special features that you should take note of when considering a coworking space. Gyms and gaming rooms are a good way to break the monotony of office life. Gyms, especially, help your team stay fit while a gaming room can be the antidote to the boredom caused by repetitive tasks.
When recreation areas are easily accessible (probably in the same building and even floor as the coworking space), it can encourage everyone to try them, at least even once. You can even arrange after-office workouts or gaming days to make it a more fun activity for the whole company.
Well, there’s a gym so a shower shouldn’t be far behind. Some employees would like to work out mid-office day to let off some steam when there’s too much pressure. Of course, they would need to be back to finish their work. A shower room would make sure that they don’t stink up the place after some sweat-inducing go at the treadmill or stationary bike.
This one will make the coworking space super-special if they also provide daycare rooms for working family members who don’t have anyone to leave their children with when they go to the office. With a professional and dependable staff to look after the kids, parents would be able to focus on their work more.
Having your office in a coworking space that has most if not all of the features mentioned above also brings some welcome benefits that might not be immediately obvious but will manifest themselves in the way the business is slowly but surely becoming stable and stronger. Here are the most important of these intangibles:
- Increase in creativity/productivity – employees tend to work better, more efficiently and effectively when they are happy, surrounded by amenities that make their working conditions not only comfortable but enjoyable and the envy of others.
- Ease of operation – businesses that start in a coworking space from Day One can hit the ground running. No hassle about setting up the utilities. Their employees can report for work and immediately attend to their respective tasks knowing that everything is in place for their use and comfort.
- Ease of expansion – companies lucky enough to see their business grow so quickly can expand to other cities and other countries as easily as setting up their original office at home by tapping into a coworking space in a new location.
Weremote: A Great Coworking Experience
Here in the Philippines, coworking spaces have also mushroomed as more and more newly established companies opt for a hybrid working setup that makes having a traditional office impractical.
Leading the charge in this fairly new field is Weremote, whose mission is to build the largest network of flexible coworking spaces in the Philippines so that any company or even freelance professional will be able to have an ideal working office wherever they are in the country.
Weremote’s technology-based solution is perfect for employees and professionals as they can easily book an office space, meeting rooms, and even a place to stay for the night using the Weremote platform.
Employers, on the other hand, can simply look at the amenities and special features listed above and be assured that many of them are already being offered by Weremote. It’s now easy to set up an office for your employees at reduced costs, with streamlined billing and maximum flexibility so that a business won’t have a problem scaling up or down their operation as the need arises.
With all the amenities and special features that Weremote offers, you can be sure that your employees will be happy and content working for years to come.
Here are the services that Weremote offers:
- Private offices – they’re flexible and attractive. Your employees will easily find comfort working there. These offices can be had on-demand through cost-efficient packages. Perfect for any company, from startups to big businesses.
- Virtual office – let Weremote handle your business registration, mail, storage, and other business requirements. You will save costs on employment, rent, transportation, permits, and licenses.
- Coworking – enjoy an office setup fully equipped with fiber-optic internet as well as business amenities and, (most importantly!) unlimited brewed coffee.
- Coliving – live, work, play here. There are amenities not just for your business but for your lifestyle too.
- Meeting spaces – serviced meeting rooms are fully furnished with the equipment you would need while meeting spaces are strategically designed to help you get at your most productive self.
- Storage spaces – secure and fully furnished, these storage spaces make sure that your documents, valuables, and stocks are secure so you can focus more on growing your business.
- Shared services – starting a business and keeping it running is difficult, but by partnering with Weremote, you’ll get the essential push to get you up and running.
Growing a fledgling business can be a tall order, but with the right environment, atmosphere, and support, anyone can be as big as those 12 companies on our list. And that’s exactly what a great coworking space offers. So, why not book a seat now?