10 tips for making the most out of co-working

Now that you’ve read our two previous articles on co-working, you’re probably interested to find out if the particular work style is for you, and if so how do you get started?

Co-working may be loaded with advantages and benefits for those that decide to embrace it over the traditional way of working, but it is not for everyone.

Co-working experts we talked to strongly agree that it suits small start-up organizations and single entrepreneur businesses. However, the alternative working arrangement may clash with the habits and preferences of individuals who place a premium on their privacy and personal space.

But for business operators who are willing to take a chance and dive into co-working, Colleen Diamond, community animator for the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), said many co-working newbies have achieved very encouraging results from their foray into the alternative work style.

The CSI facility on 720 Bathurst Street in Toronto is small business incubator that also provides shared working space for co-workers.

Diamond said that in a recent survey of co-worker at CSI, the group found that:

  • 76 per cent of organizational leaders say membership with CSI enabled their organization to access better facilities than they previously had
  • 71 per cent of those polled said shared space at enabled their organization to work more efficiently and effectively
  • 92 per cent of members believe membership with CSI expanded their professional anetwork
  • 67 per cent said membership enabled them to learn new ideas, trends, information, techniques and access individuals and audiences that helped them become better positioned in their work
  • 85 per cent of CSI members collaborated with at least one other member

Collaboration and networking is an integral part of co-working according to Shaharris Beh, project and strategy lead for Marketcrashers Inc., which runs the Hackernest shared office space on 231 Wallace Ave, in Toronto.

“One of the major benefits of co-working is the chance to meet and network with other individuals who may or may not be in the same field as you are,” Beh said. “You learn and network – you can’t do that trapped in your house.”

Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of co-working:

  • Find a space that works for your hours not the other way around – Some co-working locations are open only until 5 p.m. Others stay later while places like the Hackernest are accessible 24/7. They key is to find a location that suits your schedule best
  • Look for a place that complements your demographic. Are you a freelancer, or a single entrepreneur, or a professional consultant or part of a small business with several employees? Take the time to find out which co-working space caters best to your kind of business
  • Go open concept. Avoid closed office spaces; it totally negates the benefits of a shared space. Laid back office tend to be more productive
  • Know the difference between a shared desk and a shared office. Shared desk arrangements mean other people may have access to the desk you are using when your hour is up. With shared office spaces, rental duration typically last for weeks or months and the desks and seats you signed up for are exclusively yours during that period
  • Be friendly. Introduce yourself to staff and community members in the space. “This creates the opportunities for connection the nect time you see that person the next time they need to speak to someone in your field,” said Diamond of CSI
  • You’re still in an office. Be mindful that other people are working hard or trying to meet a deadline. Be friendly but avoid interrupting or bothering people at work. For example, save introductions until you see an opportunity when people are less focused on their work
  • Join in. Find out if there are events or meet-ups in the location. Joining once will make it easier to feel comfortable attending the next time and you’re sure to meet someone who is interested in your work or would like to work with you
  • Ask for stuff. Do you need advice in a field you’re unfamiliar with? Is there something that would make the space work better for you? Ask the staff and co-workers around you. It’s very likely that someone near has the answer you need
  • Start something. Showcase your own expertise by throwing a lunch and learn or invite a speaker to address a hot topic or shared interest. Sharing ideas is a great way to enhance connections
  • Have fun. Meet people, share ideas, get work done and have fun. “Co-working spaces provide a container for incredible unique things to happen,” said Diamond. Engage as much or as little as is right for you, she said.

“Embrace the social pressure of people looking over your shoulder: it makes you more productive,” said Beh of the Hackernest.

Nestor ArellanoNestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at ITBusiness.ca. Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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