Contributed by Hayden Fitzgerald
Futuretheory has finally expanded to our new home in Fyshwick – the Work Canberra shared working space. This was a 5-year dream that Germaine had of offering an affordable home for Canberra’s freelancers, creatives and solo to small businesses is taking shape.
For the uninitiated, a shared workspace or coworking space is a shared workplaces where independent entrepreneurs, freelancers and creatives can work and collaborate with one another. At its core, the business model is based off of the principles of mutual trust and the sharing of common core values between its participants. These spaces (which are usually situated in metropolitan areas) typically offer features such as high-speed internet, specialised facilities, centralised locations and free amenities to its members in return for a monthly or weekly fee.
Some examples of Canberra’s most popular coworking spaces can be found on curated lists at https://coworkingmag.com/australia/coworking-spaces-canberra/ and https://www.coworker.com/australia/canberra. Work Canberra is not currently featured on these sites list, but we hope it’s only a matter of time!
Whilst we are excited to offer a collaborative office space to fellow Canberrans, we also understand that one size does not fit all. So to determine whether a shared office space is a right decision for you we have compiled a list of Pros and Cons as we see it so that you can make the decision for yourself.
So why has the Coworking business model taken the world by storm?
The most central benefit of using a coworking space is having the ability to work in a fully furnished office space without significant investment. Using a shared space allows you to operate your business without needing to compute and allocate funds for things such as rent, insurance, office equipment or other fixed costs that arise when starting a business. The infographic seen below is a solid depiction of how these expenses which are often overlooked can add up quickly and place the company in question into a large financial commitment.
This low barrier to entry is extremely beneficial to self-employed individuals or small businesses who usually utilise these spaces as they often do not have the capital to formally lease high-quality office spaces (particularly when starting off). With this being said, even if you can afford it financially, the time spent on sourcing equipment and furniture, talking to contractors and getting licenses is time that could be invested into building your business.
Scaling on demand/flexibility
Not being locked into an office lease also has the added benefit of increased flexibility for aspiring entrepreneurs or businesses. Most coworking space providers will offer members different workspace packages tailored to their specific needs (e.g. hot desks, designated working areas or even private offices). These options usually come with extremely short-term commitments that allow users to opt out if they feel they are not gaining value from the service. Conversely, this flexibility also facilitates growing companies to scale-up their operation with relative ease and bring in new staff our equipment immediately.
It should be noted that these on-demand cost structures are a lot like gym memberships. If you use the complete offering you get good value. But if you don’t, it can end up being a very expensive option.
Creativity and collaboration
Coworking spaces have often been described as the perfect mix of the best attributes working in an office and being a freelancer has to offer. On one hand, you have the agency to work independently on something you are passionate about, and on the other you are surrounded by a group of like minded professionals can use their expertise to develop these ideas.
Moreover, working in a shared office space is a great way to network and connect with a wide array of small business owners, intellectuals, freelancers and entrepreneurs everyday. Not only does this give you the opportunity to grow your personal brand, but it also enables you to outsource tasks to great talents when you need help with specific projects or time-sensitive tasks.
There is a reason people in business often say “it’s not what you know, but who you know”
Maybe one of the most unnoticed benefits a coworking space offers is the ability for individuals to begin working immediately. These facilities almost always provide furnishing, administrative assistance, amenities and snacks to its tenants so they can focus entirely on business-related tasks.
The last thing any business owner wants to do when signing the lease for a new workspace is worry about setting up furniture, internet or a dodgy printer that always runs out of ink. Germaine himself can attest to the many frustrating late nights he spent ensuring Futuretheory’s move to Fyshwick was as quick and seamless as possible.
Maybe put in a photo of how messy our office was when you first got the keys if you have one
Now before you get too excited and book in three separate desks at Work Canberra, you should be aware that there are some drawbacks to undergoing such an endeavour.
Distracting events/crowds and commotion
Whilst this may not be an issue for many, I personally love my alone time. Being able to zone into my work without people looking over my shoulder, asking if I want a coffee or talking to me about the NBA finals ensures I am able to produce the best work possible.
Unfortunately, for people like myself, the fast-paced and dynamic nature of coworking spaces can sometimes make focusing on the task at hand difficult. It can be hard to do work at the best of times, but it becomes even harder when you have seven business meetings, three client pitches and twenty coffee breaks all going on in the same room. This is made even worse by the model’s lack of formal structure when compared to typical workplaces, which can make it difficult to draw the line between work and socialisation.
Following on from the last point, working in a shared environment means you forgo an element of privacy to your work. Coworking spaces often forgo the use of walls for glass dividers (or no dividers at all) and limit the number of secluded work areas. This means you will likely have to deal with people glancing over your shoulder or overhearing your phone calls all day. Whilst this may seem like a minor inconvenience at best, you have to consider the possibility of competitors occupying the same office space and what would be the implications of them having such easy access to your information.
Collaboration is based on culture
As previously mentioned, collaborating with other professionals is one of the key benefits of using a shared office space. However, if the owners of the space don’t make a conscious effort to establish a collaborative and friendly culture between their tenants, the area becomes little more than a glorified library. This is often why you have to look beyond factors such as location and size when deciding upon a coworking space.
So should you be utilising a coworking space? Well, that depends. If you are a young entrepreneur, freelancer or small business owner looking to collaborate with like-minded individuals then it is quite advantageous. Conversely, if you find that you work best in solitude or the nature of your business involves sensitive information then it probably isn’t.
As with most things, the best way to tell if it is the best fit for you is to visit the space, which is easy given that there are a number of options in Canberra such as Entry 29 and Goodwork in the city, WOTSO in Dickson and Symonston, or even our friends at Keep Co who are less than 5 minutes away.