What Is Coworking Space?
Coworking space is best defined as the sharing of office space, typically by self-employed, independent professionals who prefer working in a collaborative setting around other people rather than solo. Coworking space in Austin, TX, for instance, enables entrepreneurs, sole proprietors and remote office employees to come together in a communal setting. Why is this important?
For some, working alone is lonely. You may never see another person all day, and it can sometimes be difficult to stay motivated. While working without others around to distract would suggest higher productivity, ironically, this lack of motivation can lead to its own distractions which cause productivity to actually drop. Remote employees can also feel disconnected from their team or company, making it challenging to ward off feelings of isolation.
Coworking space provides a venue for anyone wanting the synergy of community, usually paid for on a daily or monthly basis for the ultimate flexibility. Depending on the coworking space provider, this “rent” pays for a workspace, as well as access to common areas, such as breakrooms, conference rooms, parking, and even an outdoor area. Prices will vary by company, city, and area of town, but it is typically quite affordable.
Why Is Now a Great Time for Coworking Space?
So much has been written about the COVID-19 pandemic, and work as we know it may never be the same. Even die-hard office dwellers were sent home to work, with only essential workers allowed to actually “go” to work. People without dedicated home offices have had little time to turn dining rooms or other areas of the house into makeshift personal workspaces. Back in March, when the pandemic began to reveal itself more widely, no one ever realized the work-from-home mandate would last more than a few weeks.
Today, just about all of us have had to adjust to a new normal, possibly setting up multiple workspaces around the house to accommodate spouses, roommates, and children who are all in the same boat. While the new office setting may have been a nice change of pace for many at first, some are now itching to break free from the monotony. Working from home has its benefits (pajamas, anyone?), but it offers no separation between work time and free time, between office hours and family hours. There’s not even a commute to offer decompression time. It’s like Groundhog Day. Nothing changes, even the faces, if there are any other faces around.
For these reasons, coworking space makes sense. It’s a break from the doldrums of working alone or without ever leaving the house. It builds in a schedule, one that most of us have grown accustomed to: wake up, get dressed for work, drive to work, work with others, drive home from work and leave work behind. It’s predictable, but it allows for a change in scenery, in-person conversations with others outside of your household, and inspiration in seeing others work around you.
Now, perhaps more than ever, coworking space in Austin is needed. Those who are still loving the work-from-home thing can stay right where they are, or choose certain days where they mix things up a bit and work in a coworking space. For the others who are ready for a change, coworking space is the answer to the home office blues.
Where to find Coworking Space in Austin, TX
There is no shortage of coworking space in Austin. Finding a space that works best for you is as easy as following a few simple steps.
1. Determine your budget and the number of days per week.
When you work in a coworking space, you are renting your workspace, and just like any rental, prices will vary. If this is your first time coworking and need to get a ballpark estimate of what rents around Austin look like.
Of course, the rates will all come with different access, services and perks, but the point is to get an idea of what rates look like in the area. Ultimately, you have to know what you can afford, first. Decide whether you want to rent by the month or whether you only want to work one or more days in a coworking space. You will save money renting by the month, but if you are only wanting to work outside of your home occasionally, it may make more sense to pay as you go instead of a full month up front.
2. Find a part of town you’d like to work.
You may or may not want a coworking space near home. If commuting doesn’t bother you, this could be the ideal time to branch out of your neighborhood and work in a completely different area of town that offers something your area does not. The beauty of coworking space is that it is meant to be short-term. You can work in South Austin one month and North Austin another month if you want, for instance.
3. Compare coworking spaces in that part of town.
Once you have your list, begin comparing options by looking for answers to the following questions. You may be able to find these on the coworking space’s website, but given the many changes since COVID-19, you may get more current information if you call.
How much does it cost?
You want to stick to your budget, so make sure you understand exactly what your costs will be all in and what that payment buys you. For instance, if you want a private office, you can expect to pay more than if you work in an open office space with others. Having 24/7 access would also likely cost more, but not all spaces provide that availability.
Your payment may also include a certain number of hours of access to a private conference room and guest passes in case you want to schedule on-site meetings. Some companies charge extra for this and parking, so make sure you understand how the pricing works.
If you know you won’t need to use the space five days a week, ask if they offer multi-day pricing or per-day pricing. This will give you a bit more flexibility, but may cost you slightly more per day for this convenience.
Does it require a membership?
Many coworking spaces in Austin offer monthly memberships, as well as day passes. You want to know if those memberships require any minimums or come with contracts. Depending on the space, you may be able to simply pay to have access to internal community events and programs. This is ideal for people who want to be part of a community on a regular basis but still want to work at home.
If you do want a dedicated desk, check to see what is included in your membership. Some companies have multiple coworking spaces in Austin, and your membership grants you access to any of them, giving you some nice flexibility in changing up your scenery. Your membership will come with a range of privileges, just ask and compare what’s included with each membership level option.
What are the workspace options?
Coworking spaces may offer only open space, where there is a large room with multiple tables, similar to a library. Some may also offer private offices, just keep in mind that privacy will cost more. If privacy or silence is critical, it is worth the extra cost, but keep in mind that most companies require a certain level of quietness in an open area and fellow coworkers are typically respectful.
What kind of parking?
Parking may come with your membership, but that doesn’t always mean there is plenty of parking to go around. Depending on how many people are renting space that day, your parking options may change. If you plan to drive to the venue, ask the company if parking is ever an issue.
What kind of common areas?
Coworking spaces typically provide break rooms and conference rooms, but not all of those spaces come with your membership. Ask to see if they do. If you expect to conduct meetings, you may also want to see if the coworking space has a lobby area with a receptionist who can direct your guests to a conference room.
Are there other community-building opportunities?
Finally, the whole point of coworking space is to be part of a community. You may not know anyone working alongside you, so many companies provide networking and community opportunities to get to know other members. These events may be during the workday or on the weekends or evenings. Yoga, wine and cheese tastings, guest lectures, acceleration programs, community outreach opportunities and other programs will give you the chance to meet new people and perhaps learn something new. Find out what each coworking space offers and if there is a cost to participate.
Congratulations! You should now have all of the information you need to reserve your space. The pandemic may not yet be over, but at least you have safe options on where you work. Austin has some fantastic coworking spaces that will keep you energized and motivated with a community of people to surround you.