By Cat Johnson, a well-known writer and content strategist in the coworking industry and a happy member at NextSpace Santa Cruz.
Coffee shops are nice. They have ambiance, people, wifi and good coffee. But for the growing freelance workforce, working in a coffee shop definitely has its limitations.
Between the hiss of the steaming machine interrupting an important call, limited seating when you’re meeting a client, and the scowl of the barista as you nurse one or two cups of coffee over an eight-hour stretch, coffee shops are not ideal as workspaces.
Coworking spaces are hotbeds of freelancers, independent professionals, solopreneurs, and remote workers. They provide fast wifi, a professional work environment and plenty of seating. But the biggest perk of coworking comes from the community. Coworking spaces have built-in, informal networks of professionals from all walks of life, from programmers and designers to writers, financial advisers, artists, UX pros, and attorneys. Whatever you need to accelerate your freelance business, you can likely find in a coworking space. Coworking has also been found to make people more productive, more financially successful, more social and happier.
Here are 10 tips for getting out of the coffee shop and into a coworking space.
- Find a Coworking Space
First things first, you need to find a space near you. The coworking industry is growing faster than the data can keep up with, so chances are good there’s one near you. Some coworking companies, including Pacific Workplaces, have a number of locations in the Bay Area including, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Sunnyvale, and Berkeley, so you can find one in your neighborhood or when you’re on the road.
- Tour the Space
Once you’ve located a coworking space near you, call or email them and set up a tour. Every coworking space is different so it’s important to go in, look around, meet a few people and see if it feels like a good fit for you. Ideally, you can tour several spaces. It helps to see a few to find a vibe and design that suits you.
- Determine What You Want from a Coworking Space
What do you want from a coworking space? Do you just need a quiet place to set up your laptop and work? Would you like high engagement with the other members? Do you need meeting rooms to meet clients? Are you looking to attend or host events in the space? Do you need a virtual office, as well? How do you want to present your business? Hip and trendy? Creative and cutting edge? Traditional office-style with a receptionist? Clarify these things so you know what to look for in a coworking space.
- Find a Membership that Works for You
If you’re sold on a space and ready to take the plunge, find a membership that works for you. Most spaces offer full-time memberships that may include 24/7 access. There are also part-time memberships of a few days a week or month, bundles of hours and daypass packages, as well as dedicated desks and private offices.
- Spend Time in the Space
If you’re not yet convinced that coworking is for you, spend some time in the space. Walk around, revisit the meeting rooms, open space, kitchen and phone booths to see if they feel like a good fit for you, your style and your business.
- Get a Daypass to Work in the Space
If you like what you see from spending time in the space, get a day pass and spend an entire workday working in the space. Do all your usual work, make all your usual calls, connect with people as you normally do and see how you feel in the space. Chances are good that by the end of the day you’ll know whether it’s the right workspace for you.
- Go to an Event in the Space
There’s no better way to see a coworking community in action than at an event in the space. You’ll have an opportunity to connect with members, socialize with the community, share a bit about what your own work, get a sense of the culture in the space, and learn something new. Events in coworking spaces include:
- Skillshares that are open to the public
- Networking events
- Professional development events
- Business presentations
- Happy hours that may be open to the public
- Talk to Other Members
The best way to get the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a member of a coworking space is to ask a member. Don’t be shy about asking them what they like about the space and community, how active they are and if there’s anything they struggle with or would like to see change. Members will likely give you all the information you want to know about the space.
- Can You Grow Into the Space?
Once you’ve found a coworking space that feels right for you, make sure that, as your business grows, you can continue to grow in the space. For instance, does it have dedicated workstations so you can leave your desktop computer, extra monitor and other tools there? Does it have shared offices you can move to if you need a little more privacy? Does it offer private offices that, if you decide to grow a team, you can move into? These are good things to consider ahead of time so you don’t find yourself looking for a new space as you’re growing.
- Are there Multiple Spaces?
One of the big perks of being a member of a coworking company that has multiple spaces is that when you travel, you can link into your home space and extended community in their other locations. Pacific Workplace has 18 spaces across California and 1 space in Reno, Nevada that members can access whether they’re in Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Bakersfield, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Sunnyvale and more.
Schedule a tour of a Pacific Workplaces location near you.