The rise of remote and flexible working is a product of a shifting work culture and the blurring of boundaries between business and leisure. Co-working spaces offer a comfortable but work-friendly environment for people to get work done outside of the office, without having to worry about patchy WiFi or the lack of meeting spaces and power outlets. Many co-working spaces also offer amenities such as snacks, drinks, and even networking events, functioning more like a clubhouse for like-minded professionals than merely an office space. Co-working spaces also offer shorter and more flexible leasing options for companies and entrepreneurs, which is why they have been so popular with start-ups and boutique firms.
The pandemic has made working from home or remotely the norm for many people, a trend that has become widely adapted as a permanent feature for many corporate offices. However, being cooped up at home does take its toll, which is why co-working spaces offer a great alternative, especially during times like this. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what is best for you. We consulted the experts at The Work Project (TWP) to provide insight on what to look out for when making your choice.
It is essential to find a knowledgeable operator that is experienced with running operations. Scheduled cleanings and regular maintenance work for air-conditioners are less glamourous than five o’clock happy hours, but are no less important. It all goes into creating an enjoyable experience and healthy environment for members, in addition to in-house amenities. You should also make sure that the operator has a strong financial infrastructure, to eliminate any concerns about the longevity of the operation.
The design and layout of your workspace affect mood and productivity. Good design can create a friendly and inspiring working environment for workers, as well as leave a positive impression with clients when they come in for meetings. Lighting, temperature, and noise control dictate your comfort level, so having an open, cool, bright, and quiet space to work in really makes a difference. It does not hurt to work in a beautifully designed space either—The Work Project has vertical gardens designed by botanical artist Patrick Blanc, so you can feel like you’re being enveloped in lush greenery while you type away.
Amenities such as whiteboards, projectors, event spaces, and meeting rooms can make your job a lot easier, so make sure to find out if a co-working space has everything you need. You should find out if printing services and access to meeting rooms are included in your membership, and if not, how much additional cost will it incur to use those services. Security is also an important detail—there are so many people coming and going into co-working spaces, it is hard to keep people with less-than-honourable intentions out. A strict visitor registration policy should be in place to prevent security breaches.
Unlike a good speakeasy, a good co-working space should not be located at the end of an obscure alley behind an unmarked door, only accessible if you climb through a side window. You should find a co-working space that is close to public transport, in a neighbourhood with business-friendly amenities such as banks, post offices, and restaurants. Convenience is key, for yourself and for potential clients. Business hubs like Causeway Bay, Central, and Tsim Sha Tsui would be good options.
Your health has never been under more scrutiny—and your co-working space of choice should be doing everything in their power to protect their community. Extensive contact tracing for members and visitors should be a given, as well as diligent sanitising protocols for high-touch areas such as desks, washrooms, and door handles. Work stations and common areas should be modified according to social distancing rules, and basic protective resources such as face masks, hand sanitisers, and partitions should be made available.