Location, Location, Location: Coworking Spaces

As a news startup, you may be considering what kind of physical office space you need long-term or at least short-term to get the operation going. One option to consider is coworking space or shared office space.

This may not be recommended for everyone but if you are seeking an option that may be economically attractive, a shared office space may be right for your news startup.

In addition, coworking office space may be of benefit to your employees and their productivity.

According to Deskmag’s 2nd Global Coworking Survey, they found that freelancers, employees of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs said that coworking spaces allowed them to expand their social circles and business networks, reduced isolation, and productivity increased.

What is a coworking space?

Basically, coworking or shared office spaces are arrangements that a business owner makes with a building owner to share the office space and resources (desks, printer/fax, receptionist or telephone answering service, etc.) they have. The business owner will pay for this space and resources based on an hourly, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

The idea of coworking office space is not new but in today’s working climate when resources are tight, this area has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

According to Deskmag’s 2nd Global Coworking Survey, there are now more than 1,300 coworking spaces worldwide. Many of these spaces are located in cities with a million or more inhabitants worldwide and many smaller cities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants are also seeing the growth of coworking spaces.

Types of Shared Office Space

There are several coworking spaces available in today’s market and it depends on your operation's needs. According to Julie Clark in an article from Under30CEO, there are four options to consider:

  • Business to Business shared office space (private workspace within another business or office building with shared reception or other common areas)
  • Business incubators (sharing space with other startups as part of an incubation program and it usually requires an application/admission process)
  • Coworking communities (communal desk space and shared conference rooms with few private areas)
  • Executive suites (private, formal office space in a traditional building with daily, hourly or monthly rates and good for those seeking to have a satellite office)

Key Items to Consider Before Signing on the Dotted Line

As a news startup, taking the leap to have shared office space does come with some potential advantages and some caveats.

Once you have an idea about the kind of space you want to rent, you have to consider privacy options, frequency and use of the space, amenities, and the office culture before signing on the dotted line with the building owner.

First, let’s address privacy. As a news start-up if you feel that you and your staff may require a substantial amount of privacy to prevent information being leaked out to your competitors or the public at large, you may want to consider a different kind of shared space option such as the business to business shared office space or executive suite option that provide private spaces.

Second, let’s address frequency/use of the space. As a start-up, you may not need to use your office space everyday. You and your staff may be happy to work from home or the coffee shop the majority of the time. If you are a small operation and need the space only to gather your staff for specific meetings and other projects, you may want to rent the shared space for a few days a week versus the whole week. This may also solve any privacy issues you could have as well if you only use the shared office space for specific kinds of activities that are not as private or confidential.

Third, let’s consider amenities. Identify the kind of equipment and resources you and your staff will need. What kind of desks does your staff require? What kind of Wi-Fi and Internet connections do you need? Do you need a telephone answering system or receptionist? Do you need access to printers/faxes? Will your staff need a place to eat and take breaks (refrigerators, microwaves, break room area)? What kind of storage will you need for files or other kind of materials? How many parking spots will you need for your staff and visitors? What hours will you need the space (early morning, late evening, 8-4, 9-5)?

Lastly, you have to consider office culture. If you are going to be in an office space where other entrepreneurs, freelancers or other independent workers are working alongside your staff, are there any issues or problems with how they work? Do they mind a quiet or noisy or talkative environment? Some shared office spaces will offer white noise buffers to help drown out the noise from other areas of an open office. It’s up to you to determine what may or may not work for your staff.

Make sure you test out the space before you sign any contract. Invite a few people from your staff to join you in the space for a day and see how the experience goes. This can provide you with a good understanding of whether this option will work or not for your business.

Signing the Lease/Agreement

If you decide to sign on the dotted line – make sure to review the lease or agreement carefully and have a lawyer help you review the finer details of the contract. You may notice some items are not included in the document and you should get everything in writing.

Also, don’t be afraid to set your lease or agreement for a short period of time. You may find after a few months that the shared office space is not working out and you can easily leave versus having a one-year lease. Most coworking spaces provide a variety of rental or lease options that are flexible to the business owner’s needs.

Also, make sure it’s clear in the agreement or lease what your expectations are for using the space and the building owner’s expectations of what they will permit you to do in the space. Setting the appropriate guidelines and limitations can prevent headaches later for both parties.

Resources to Get Started

Ready to get started in hunting for the best coworking space? Check out a few of these resources below:

photo credit: ekai via photo pin cc

About Amy Schmitz Weiss

Amy Schmitz Weiss is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. Schmitz Weiss is a 2011 Dart Academic Fellow and has a PhD in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches journalism courses in basic writing and editing, multimedia, web design, data journalism, and mobile journalism. She is also the 2011-2012 Recipient of the AEJMC Bridge Grant with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation that led to the creation of a mobile news app, AzteCast for the San Diego State University campus population in spring 2012. She also is a former journalist who has been involved in new media for more than a decade. She has worked in business development, marketing analysis and account management for several Chicago Internet media firms. Her research interests include online journalism, media sociology, news production, multimedia journalism, and international communication. She is also a regular blog contributor to the Investigative News Network, a resource center for community-based and nonprofit journalism.

  • http://oaklandlocal.com/ Susan Mernit

    Oakland Local has been in a co-working space in Oakland, CA called Tech Liminal, for almost 3 years.  Works very well for us.