Google, Mattel, Apple, Disney and Harley-Davidson all have something in common: they started in someone’s garage.
Today, technology disguises the fact that your startup is operating out of your house, which buys you time before you need to start thinking about office space. You can hire a virtual receptionist, employ a remote workforce and implement enterprise-powered tools to run your business like an established company.
This is an amazing time for startups to grow without worrying about burning through cash for rent and equipment. But for many, there comes a point when the work-from-home lifestyle begins to stunt progress. There is no formula based on headcount or revenue to determine when you should consider a change, but there are a few telltale signs.
Here are three indications that it’s time to consider moving your team into a co-working space.
1. When You’ve Exhausted Your Professional Network and Need New Blood
Seeking out advice, feedback and support from other entrepreneurs and business leaders is a cornerstone for every great startup. In fact, founders who are mentored are twice as likely to succeed. To keep this feedback channel healthy, it’s critical to keep your professional networks from going stale.
Working from home limits your exposure to the outside world. No matter how intentional you are about reaching out to colleagues or attending events, the opportunities to meet new people diminish the longer you work from home.
The value of a co-working space beyond the physical office is the community of people that are drawn to a shared space. There’s an opportune mix of entrepreneurs and established companies in different stages of growth and development.
The diversity of experience and knowledge found in the co-working community is ideal for finding mentors for both you and your employees. Mentors from different backgrounds can give you fresh perspectives and offer unique transferrable skills. Not to mention, you will be able to tap into their contact list, which will have little overlap with yours.
You need new blood to get feedback on your latest pitch, test your product, or participate in an impromptu brainstorm. These opportunities rarely happen alone at home. Co-working spaces give you instant access to this network of people who are also looking to you for support. It’s a sharing economy of experiences, objective feedback, and new business opportunities.
How to Find a Co-Working Space With A Community That Will Meet Your Needs
Each co-working space has its own vibe with a diverse mix of companies and personalities. If your primary objective is to tap into a community that is best suited to help your business, you’ll want to find out which companies currently use the space.
Most co-working space websites will not list their tenants and don’t like to share the information. Although some might give you their higher profile tenants over the phone, so it never hurts to ask. The best approach is to request a trial week, giving you a few days to do some detective work.
Observe how people interact in the space and engage them with questions such as:
- Have you built any new relationships that have helped your business?
- How do you meet new people during a typical workday?
- What are the networking events like? Do a lot of people attend?
- How would you describe the community?
Be upfront about what you are looking for and see how the tenants respond. If that particular space is not right for you, you’ve spent a week building new connections, which is always a good thing.
2. When Your Team’s Desire for Greatness Starts to Decline
When people join a startup, there is a boost of adrenaline. They are excited about the company’s mission, they are a wellspring of new ideas, and they are willing to wear several hats to get things done. Your team generates momentum, and it’s your job to keep it up.
As time goes by, the lack of in-person communication and collaboration can lead to some employees feeling disconnected and unmotivated. Think about the times you solved problems over lunch with colleagues or heard a funny story at the office coffee machine. New ideas and team camaraderie are formed and nurtured when you are away from your desk.
Research conducted by Deskmag found that 71% of people in a co-working space experienced an increase in creativity, and 81% who had previously worked from home had a positive impact on their levels of productivity.
Many co-working spaces are designed to create spontaneous interactions by placing communal areas throughout the space. Bruno Moriset, a professor at the University of Lyon, describes them as “serendipity accelerators” designed “to host people who endeavor to break isolation and to find a convivial environment that favors meetings and collaboration.”
If you sense that your team’s enthusiasm and productivity have plateaued, a co-working space could be the catalyst you need to regain momentum.
How to Find a Co-Working Space that Will Inspire Your Team
One approach is to get your employees involved in the process. Create a set of questions that will give you a better sense of how your employees work and what they need to perform at a high level. That said, avoid bringing your team in for a trial week. If you are deciding between a few spaces, your employees might have differing opinions.
You want everyone on the team to be excited about the space from day one. Here are a few questions to consider when you visit a space:
- Does the space have the energy and design aesthetic that fits our culture?
- Does the kitchen area have tables or a lounge area for impromptu meetings?
- What types of perks and amenities are offered to help my team recharge and socialize?
- Does the space satisfy the range of needs for my entire team?
Bringing your team together in an environment that suits their needs and inspires creativity will give your company that much-needed boost of adrenaline.
3. When Your Remote Team Expands into New Markets
A remote workforce doesn’t necessarily mean everyone works from home. If you are committed to building a distributed team of world-class talent, you’ll need to consider where everyone is going to work.
Co-working spaces attract freelancers and remote workers because most talented people crave the social interactions and mental stimulation that comes from a community of peers. These daily encounters are impossible to replicate anywhere else. They will motivate your remote employees and strengthen their sense of identity as a member of your company.
Offering co-working space to your remote employees is also a strong selling point for recruiting the best talent. Remote opportunities are on the rise with 68% of U.S. workers saying that they expect to work remotely in the future. Co-working spaces offer the community, amenities, and flexibility that will give you a competitive advantage in the war for talent.
How to Choose a Co-Working Space for a Remote Team
By the end of 2017, there will be over 14,000 co-working spaces worldwide hosting over a million workers. If you are planning to expand your remote workforce, look for co-working spaces that offer multiple locations.
ImpactHub, for example, has 80 locations around the world with an emphasis on being locally connected and globally embedded community. Another option is a global network like Copass, which allows you to access independent spaces around the world with one membership. Networks give your team the ability to use spaces wherever they travel.
A Co-Working Space Can Be a Catalyst for Growth
A remote, home office is the most cost-effective way to start and build your company. Today, you can maintain this approach much longer than in the past. But as in the cases of Disney, Apple, Google and others, there comes a time when you need to move out of the garage.
Co-working spaces are an affordable option, but that’s not the real value for your company. The community of people, the chance interactions that inspire ideas, and the flexibility to work autonomously all contribute to creating a catalyst for your company to grow.
Like any catalyst, a co-working space can only enhance what you put into it.
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