office space with tables and computers

What's the point of coworking?

Coworking has become very in vogue over the last few years, with new spaces popping up in major cities from New York to Delhi. But why do people use them, and who are these people?

For those who haven’t ever used a coworking space, we think we should explain why so many people do and dispel some of the myths.

Myth 1: They are full of techies.

Untrue. Here at The Workplace in Cheltenham we have a huge variety of members, a non-exhaustive list would include software developers and cybersecurity experts (the techies) along with a writer for the Sunday Times, an author, a stuntman (think Killing Eve and Game of Thrones), an actuary and a Russian translator, to name but a few. The variety makes the place buzz, it’s just so much more interesting than working with people all in the same industry.

Myth 2: Everyone sits on trendy wooden stools and drinks coffee all day.

Also untrue, most spaces have realised that people are paying to sit, so if they aren’t sitting comfortably they will go elsewhere (or stay at home). We have invested heavily in ergonomic Herman Miller chairs throughout, which are highly adjustable and so can suit everyone. Many places now have proper office chairs, although none seem to have taken it quite as seriously as us!

We also have electric standing desks for those that want to be healthier (sitting is the new smoking apparently) and a desk bike so people can peddle and work.

Many members also take advantage of the town centre location and pop to the gym or yoga sessions during the working day.

There is a lot of decent coffee being drunk though!

Myth 3: Members are full time and sign up for months.

Many spaces now offer flexible packages which enable members to vary the number of days they use a desk, as well as offering short term agreements. Members at The Workplace join on a 1-month rolling contract so they can change or cancel at the end of each month and most of our members are also part-time. The desk numbering system and online booking calendar allow members to reserve their favourite desk as far in advance as they want.

Coworking particularly appeals to young companies who have operated from home up until now but need to start employing help. These entrepreneurs would find it hard to lease an office space, and most wouldn’t want to sign a 10-year lease on a space they may outgrow in months. Several of our members’ companies have now expanded, and we have spaces for them to interview prospective employees, hold meetings with contractors, suppliers, and investors, enabling them to create the impression of a professional, well-established company. The booking system allows them to always sit together with their employees to really work collaboratively.

The advantages of coworking

The vast majority of people who co-work do have a workspace at home. This is a fact which really took us by surprise when we opened our first space.

So why pay to co-work?

When meeting prospective members, I noticed they almost all told the same story: they felt they weren’t suited to working from home, that they thought they were some way defective, and they seemed to think they were alone in this.

In this age of flexible working, people who work in an office often dream of working from home, but they soon discover the reality. It’s isolating, they miss the social interactions, and find that staying motivated amongst the distraction of daily life a struggle. Focusing is very hard when there is a cat that could be stroked, a dog to walk, washing to do, and a cake with your name on in the kitchen. So, although paying for desk space when you already have space at home for free seems counter-intuitive, members find they are easily able to make up for the cost by being so much more productive. It also frees up space at home and allows members to separate their home and work life.

We try not to have too many distractions but free cakes arrive on Wednesday, and dogs are allowed in one of the spaces, so people don’t need to leave Fido at home. We also organise social meet-ups in response to members saying how they missed after-work drinks.

Thinking of everything

We do try to provide everything people would want from their ideal office and asked members to write a wishlist before we opened our new space 3 months ago. In response we have…

  1. A kitchen for members to use
  2. Free fresh ground micro-roasted coffee and Clipper tea
  3. Meeting space with smart TV, whiteboard and flip chart
  4. Gigabit speed broadband line
  5. Pods (velvet lined bamboo pods on wheels, they need to be seen!)
  6. Standing desks
  7. Air-conditioning
  8. Free colour laser printing
  9. Water filter / cooler
  10. Discounts on food and drink from our award-winning coffee shop opposite
  11. 24” monitors on Humanscale adjustable arms on every desk
  12. Slack membership so members can chat online
  13. Flexible opening hours – all members can access the space using an app on their phone which means if people need to work through the night, to meet a deadline they can
  14. Lockers, no need to take everything home each day.

So, it looks like coworking is here to stay. It is now spreading out of the major cities to smaller towns such as Cheltenham where people are discovering that it can suit their lifestyles and make their working life so much more fun.

Are you the owner of a young business? Get in contact with Start and Grow Enterprise today to find out how we can support you. It’s free!

The Workplace boasts stunning new coworking office spaces in Cheltenham, Frogmore House, Ormond Place. Tel: 07850237799.

This article is written by Clare Storey, proud owner of The Workplace and The Find Coffee House.

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