Authored by: Marshall Thurlow
Amid the rise of the work-from-home trend, studies show that working alone can worsen work-related stress and mental health issues.
In fact, according to a study from Headspace, it’s a specific contributor towards poor mental health, with 42% of workers saying their job had played a “significant role” in their issues. Almost one-fifth of respondents (17.8%) cited feeling isolated from working alone as the sole reason they had mental health conditions.
Anyone can have a negative reaction to working alone, and this is a particular issue for sole traders and small business owners. Co-working can help reduce these feelings of anxiety and loneliness – even if you’re the only person in your small business, there’s always someone around for a chat and a coffee.
I found that joining a co-working space was a great step in growing my business but, more importantly, it was a key move for improving my mental health.
Co-working helped me establish a healthier work-life balance, so my home felt like a place to relax, rather than my office. It also gave me human interaction – both organised and casual – which eliminated the feeling of isolation I had felt while working alone from home.
But how do you choose the ideal co-working space for your company? You need to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your business needs, as well as the different offerings available to you. Are you a small enterprise seeking the networking opportunities of co-working environments, or do you value heightened productivity and reduced distractions? Do you need a private office, a dedicated desk or a hot-desk situation?
According to Servcorp, as of 2022, there were at least 374 coworking spaces situated across Australia so I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your needs. Here, I’ll share the key considerations I had when making this pivotal decision.
The significance of the location cannot be overstated. Is the space conveniently situated for you and your team members? Is it easily accessible by public transport, or is there parking available? Can clients get there and find it easily for meetings? Remember, this workspace becomes an integral aspect of your business’s image to clients – does the area enhance your reputation?
CBD locations are popular because of the accessibility and the proximity to the business district (yes, it’s in the name), but it will depend on your needs – perhaps a more suburban or industrial location works better for your business.
Coworking spaces offer more than just empty rooms. Evaluate the offerings such as maintenance, Wi-Fi quality, meeting room availability, printer access, security measures, lockers, climate control, power backup, and on-site dining facilities.
These amenities will influence the overall cost; prioritise those that align with your requirements for the best value. Do you need a cafe for grabbing a quick lunch? Do you expect a daily cleaning service? Would you like free tea and coffee included? How about recording booths and equipment?
The atmosphere of your chosen workspace significantly impacts productivity and job satisfaction. Decide whether you prefer a comfortable, laid-back environment or a more formal, professional setting. You may want a space with a bit of hubbub and activity during the day, to stimulate creativity, or you may prefer a space that discourages too much chatting. Noise levels should be considered in relation to your focus needs.
Outside of your working hours, consider what you want in terms of socialising options. Some co-working spaces organise networking events, Friday afternoon drinks and lunchtime meet-ups – I found these a great way to meet new clients and collaborators.
The trend towards flexible work arrangements is gaining momentum. Check a workspace’s operating hours to ensure they align with your needs. If you’re a night owl, or you anticipate pulling all-nighters to meet deadlines, make sure you’ll be able to access the office after standard working hours – 24/7 access is ideal. If you’ll be there late when it’s quiet, you’ll also want to check the security processes; see below.
While socialising is great for your mental health, too much can be detrimental to your work. If you prioritise a focused work environment, opt for a coworking space that offers separate private offices. Conversely, if networking is essential, seek out spaces designed to foster community-building. As a compromise, dividers between desks can give you a modicum of privacy.
Even if you don’t have your own private office, you may want to be able to book private meeting rooms for sensitive conversations.
High-speed internet is non-negotiable in the modern office. Sluggish connectivity can turn routine tasks into frustrating ordeals and hinder your professional image in virtual meetings. Prior to committing, inquire about and test the internet speed.
Ideally you want a space that’s connected to Enterprise Ethernet. Enterprise Ethernet uses the same fibre-optic cable technology as FTTP but is delivered over a dedicated network with a direct path, which gives you even faster, more secure and lower latency connectivity.
It also offers a symmetrical speed plan, so you can upload as fast as you download, and the ability to scale, to meet the needs of all members at any time. My co-working space uses Enterprise Ethernet and it gives me high-speed connectivity to the cloud, reliable VPN use, and confidence in my business continuity.
Coworking spaces introduce various companies and individuals into your work environment. Explore options like private, secure offices or additional security measures, such as guards or card access systems. This is particularly important if you store equipment (such as your computer), confidential information or expensive stock in your space, or you’ll be there late at night.
Consider the budget for your chosen coworking space, encompassing membership fees, additional charges, equipment expenses and commuting costs. Co-working spaces usually cover maintenance, IT support, power backup, air conditioning and furnishings, which can be cost-effective for startups.
Examine potential supplementary charges; some facilities may bill separately for amenities like kitchens, meeting rooms or lockers, which could impact your budget planning.
Investigate trial periods to assess suitability before spending lots of money, and see if there are any discounts like paying longer periods upfront or referring a friend.
Anticipate your business’s growth. Ensure the coworking space accommodates your expanding team and provides options for future scaling. Assess the flexibility to increase or decrease space without penalties or waitlists.
Choosing the right co-working space is an important decision that requires thorough consideration of all the above factors. You need a space that meets your budget and requirements, suits your working style and will make you look forward to getting to work every day.
Good luck and remember: taking care of your mental health helps take care of business.
This is a sponsored post
Marshall Thurlow is Director and Founder of Orion Marketing Pty Ltd. He is a digital marketer with expertise in SEO, website design, content marketing and project management. With over 15 years of experience spanning government, not-for-profit and the private sector, he is well equipped to lead teams to success.