Things to consider when looking for co-working spaces

WHEN should you start looking at co-working space?
Linda Trim, a director at Giant Leap, a workplace specialist, says: “Initiating the search process for a co-working space can feel intimidating.”
She advises to start the search process before you think you are ready. “It’s best to get into the market to see what’s out there and what decisions you might need to make. Seeing the actual office will trigger considerations that you won’t think of until you’re actually in the space.”
What type of services are offered?
“Great pro-working spaces have every single thing you could need in the office on demand including a concierge,” she said, “making them just like a five-star hotel experience.”

She notes that a little known trick to assess the quality of co-working space is to ask whether it has a centre manager. This is someone who will is responsible for the building and the co-working space so that everything is in excellent running order and glitches are attended to immediately.
Other must-haves are meeting rooms with quality video screens and sound for remote teams, receptionists, secretarial services, coffee, food, secure storage and a wide range of workspace options. This would include general open areas, privacy booths to dedicated basic offices right up to large luxury offices and lounge areas.

Will your workers drive, take the, bus, the Gautrain or walk?
Trim says: “Of the most important factors in deciding on a workplace is ease of access for your team. It is important to bear in mind that people will be coming from different directions, so easy access is paramount.”
Close to home is the most important decider when it comes to choosing a co-working space, but of course that will not be possible for larger teams. Good transport access is, therefore, second prize.

What amenities are nearby?
Yes, you might find a co-working space that has just the best coffee and sandwiches – and even beer on tap. But while everyone will want good coffee and food on site, they will also like an option to walk out for lunch or head out for a latte for a change of scenery. Within a two to three block radius, are there restaurants? Coffee shops? Retail? What is the “walking score” for your building?
“As part of your due diligence, map out the amenities into a three block radius,” Trim advised.

Will you have access to high-speed fibre internet and an IT technician?
It seems fundamental these days, but it is worth checking the quality of the wi-fi given how much of our working lives now depends on the cloud, internet communications and being constantly linked to our phones and other devices.
“What people really want in co-working spaces is the internet to work every moment of every day, and it to be really fast. People might compromise on some things, but they will not forgive internet outages or slow speeds,“ she said.
Trim adds that while many co-working spaces offer wi-fi they have no IT support on site, so when the wi-fi goes down, work can stop for days on end.
“An IT expert on site is an absolute must,” she said.

Is there good security?
Particularly in South Africa, business security is paramount. “A secure co-working space would have confirmed the identify of each and every use, the staff, suppliers and guests before allowing them on the premises. Cards should be supplied to those who have leased space so they can enter easily. Of course, secure parking in the building is vital, as are security guards at access points. It’s no good having a secure workspace if you’re parking on the street to get there,“ Trim concluded.

Linda Trim is a director at Giant Leap.

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