Niche coworking spaces seem to be all the rage these days.
There are spaces and communities designed for artists, parents, writers, music industry professionals, dog entrepreneurs, hyper-local neighborhoods, wellness professionals, women (are women-focused coworking spaces even niche anymore?), students, attorneys, digital creatives and much more.
Niche vs. Traditional Coworking
On one hand, niche coworking makes a lot of sense. In a space full of writers, members can create tight networks of people who speak the same language, use the same tools, and face the same challenges. These niche spaces become hubs for particular industries and communities.
On the other hand, niche coworking spaces sidestep one of the biggest benefits of coworking: an in-house network of diverse professionals. Right now, in my home coworking space, NextSpace Santa Cruz, there is a photographer, a business coach, a metal artist, a nonprofit fundraiser, an event planner, a videographer, an administrative assistant, an IP attorney, a developer, a business mentor and me, a content creator and strategist.
When I need a photo, I hire our in-house photographer; when I have a tech or web-related question, I ask one of our programmers or tech geeks; when the space needed a marketing video, they turned to the videographer; when I had a question about a book title, I asked our resident IP attorney.
A diversity of professionals and skillsets makes a coworking community stronger.
But so does having a tight group of pros doing similar work.
So, which model is right for you?
It depends on what you want from a coworking space.
If you’re launching a new business or startup, it makes sense for you to join a diverse space where you can find a web developer, a photographer, a copywriter, an accountant etc. These are all the things you’ll need as you launch.
If, however, you have specific needs or preferences, a niche space may be just right for you.
For instance, if you’re a dog entrepreneur, it might make sense for you to be in a dog-friendly space of other dog entrepreneurs who can share contacts, information and strategies. If you need a space with childcare, you’ll need to find a parent-friendly space that offers space for kids to play while you work. If you’re building a marketing agency, working in a niche space of digital creatives could provide the team and talent you need for various projects. Tech startups looking to grow and reach profitability rapidly may want to immerse themselves in an ecosystem focused on creating key relationships that can lead to getting funded and scaling quickly.
The Importance of Programming in a Coworking Space
Programming, including workshops, roundtable discussions, lunch and learns and afterhours meetups, is also a consideration when deciding whether a niche coworking space is right for you.
When done well, programming can accelerate your career, grow your skill set, boost your wellness, open opportunities, spark connections and projects and more. Niche spaces have programming focused on a tighter target audience than traditional coworking spaces, which could be a benefit or a drawback. Again, it’s important to understand what you want from a space.
Find your Community
At the heart of any good coworking space is the community. More important than amenities and fabulous design is the group you join in a shared space.
Coworking spaces of all types, including niche and traditional, focus on creating strong, vibrant communities of connected, mutually-supportive members. This is the most important thing to look for in a space.
The best advice I can offer if you’re considering coworking is to visit—and work out of—at least three spaces. Every coworking space is different. Sometimes the differences are big, such as having an in-house dog park, and sometimes they’re as subtle as a monthly meetup for writers.
Clarify what you want from a coworking space, understand why you want to join one and, importantly, what you can contribute to a community. Then check out a few spaces and find one that feels right for you—whether niche or not.
by Cat Johnson, a content strategist, storyteller and coworker at NextSpace Santa Cruz
Our 17 shared workspaces across California offers member programming unique to the community we serve, as well as convenient coworking memberships, virtual office plans, and private offices. Find a location near you.