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How to Choose the Right Co-Working Space for You

Oct. 25, 2016
Small Business
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Sure, working from home has its perks, be it a more flexible schedule or eliminating a long commute. But now, you miss chatting and networking with co-workers.

You may want to try a co-working space, which offers a shared working environment for remote workers, freelancers and budding small businesses. The benefits may surprise you.

However, not all co-working spaces are a good fit. Here are four factors to think about:

1. Location

The co-working space should be a reasonable distance from home, says Craig Baute, owner of Creative Density in Denver. The average commute in the U.S. to a co-working space is 18 minutes, according to online co-working magazine DeskMag.

For freelancers and remote workers on limited budgets, free parking is a must-have item, Baute says. Having lunch spots nearby is also important.

2. Amenities

Every co-working space should come with unlimited coffee, comfortable seating, a printer and fax machine, and fast, reliable internet.

You may need to take private calls, so it also helps if the co-working space offers a designated area for that. “Noise should not be an issue,” says Chris Schultz, CEO of Launch Pad, which has co-working spaces in New Orleans and in Charleston, South Carolina.

Some co-working spaces also offer educational workshops and special events, which can be an attractive perk.

3. Community

A strong community and interaction with others are the top reasons people choose a co-working space, according to DeskMag. You should be comfortable interacting with and learning from people in the space.

The biggest benefit of co-working spaces is that they’re “an investment in yourself and your career, in your business,” Schultz says, adding member surveys show that “their businesses grow faster and they move further in careers and more satisfaction doing what they’re doing.” A big reason for that is the community they’re around.

4. Price

Memberships are typically monthly, without long-term lease commitments, and price usually depends on the size of the space and how often you’ll be there. The average monthly price of a 24/7 co-working space membership is $305, according to DeskMag’s survey.

Co-working space checklist

Test out the co-working space before making a commitment. Here’s a to-do list to help you evaluate the co-working spaces you visit:

  • Sit. Test your desk or office chair. You’ll want to be comfortable working from this spot.
  • Sign on. Try the internet. It needs to be fast and reliable — better than at home. “We call the internet oxygen,” Schultz says. “You need super-fast Wi-Fi.”
  • Sip. The coffee is likely included in your membership. Is it something you’ll want to drink every day? You shouldn’t have to go to Starbucks.
  • Mingle. Attend a happy hour, workshop or event hosted by the co-working space; say hi. Do you feel like you’ll be able to make connections? Ask yourself whether the culture is a good fit.

“Introduce yourself to people, see if people introduce themselves to you,” Schultz says. “Test the internet, try the coffee, think about what you’re going to need and work off that checklist.”

Steve Nicastro is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @StevenNicastro.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

Image credit: LaunchPad