Coworking spaces are exploding in popularity as a workplace alternative among startups.
Deskmag's Global Coworking Survey, published in November 2015, found that about half a million people are working in co-working spaces and that more spaces are popping up in major cities in response to the demand. The number of spaces has grown by 36 percent over the last year, and they are serving a third more members, on average, than they were two years ago.
With so many coworking options available around the world, how can startups choose the right one? Here are a few steps to take to narrow the search.
1. Determine needs.
Just as happens with most business decisions, choosing a coworking space starts with nailing down the goal. Why is a coworking space needed? What does the startup hope to gain from using the space? Knowing the goal will help determine priorities and the most important qualities to look for in a space.
For example, if the goal is to host more meetings, available meeting rooms and conference-calling capabilities may be top priorities. The needs of your business may be as simple as high-speed wi-fi, or a desk or printer or access to the space at all hours. But, don’t confuse a need with a want. Free coffee is a nice perk, but is it a necessity?
Create a list of top needs and top wants -- like the coffee -- in a space, based off the goal. Use the list to evaluate potential spaces and choose one that aligns most closely with the needs of your startup.
2. Screen for culture.
The amenities of the coworking space are important -- but what about the people?
After all, 89 percent of employees surveyed in Globoforce’s 2014 Mood Tracker Report said work relationships matter to their overall quality of life. Just because the work environment is nontraditional doesn’t mean relationships and culture matter any less.
In fact, 70 percent of co-working members surveyed by Deskmag said they felt that they were part of their coworking community. In addition, 67 percent thought that all other coworking members at the space knew their name.
So, find a coworking space that fits the culture of your startup. Talk with current members to learn about the culture and get a better idea if the working styles and personalities in the space will be a good fit.
3. Tour locations.
A coworking space may look great on paper, but don’t rush into a decision before seeing the physical space. Set up a tour of the facility and, if possible, get a pass to try the space out for a day or two.
But, don’t focus only on the interior space -- it’s all about location. During the visit, check out the neighborhood. Will the location be beneficial to the business? Is it close to potential partners, mentors and industry leaders? What about colleges and universities to recruit fresh talent?
Company culture is important here, too. How will the location benefit the team? Are there coffee shops within walking distance? Cool lunch spots? Nearby fitness centers?
Look for a location that will support and enhance the company culture, while benefiting business goals.
4. Look to the future.
A coworking space may fit the needs of the business now, but what about in a year? Will the startup outgrow the space?
Membership agreements can be difficult to break. No one wants to end up locked into a coworking space that no longer fits the company's needs. Get an idea of how long the space will be needed, to find the best membership option for the startup’s immediate and future needs.
A coworking space can be the right choice for a startup looking for a space between the home office and traditional office. With the simple steps described, it will be easy to find the perfect place to call home.
Are you looking for a coworking space? Which needs are most important to your startup?
Editor's Note: Entrepreneur Media is an investor and partner with AlleyNYC, a coworking space in New York City.