Running a business as a freelancer or a startup can be expensive. Not to talk of doing so in a country like ours. One of the most expensive bills a business owner may be saddled with is paying for an office space. Then, talk about furnishing the office and other office maintenances.
For a freelancer, going to a coffee shop(do we even have enough of them in Nigeria) can be exhausting. Working from home can be distracting and limit productivity. Not to mention that clients may not be able to get to your home when the need arises. Coworking spaces or shared office spaces may be the answer you need.
What are coworking spaces?
Just as the name implies, it is an office setting shared with other people who may not be colleagues or employees. It is the sharing of office spaces by entrepreneurs (self-employed and independent professionals) who wish to work together in a community. The rise in the number of people especially millennials who go entrepreneurial has caused an increase in the rise of coworking spaces. Deskmag’s 2017 Global Coworking Survey reveals that the number of coworking spaces grows by 22 per cent per year while the number of coworking members grows by 40 per cent per year. I think I should point out that Instagram and Uber were incubated in coworking spaces.
In Nigeria, coworking spaces are springing up, with most of them in Lagos, and Abuja. You can find CoLab in Kaduna and nHub in Jos. In subsequent posts, we could look at some of these coworking spaces and the services they provide. For now, let’s look at the reasons to share office spaces.
- Ideal for Low-Cost Start-up: Renting an office space requires making some deposit for at least a year rent. Some office spaces could require more than that. Then, you would talk about furnishing and stationery. You would invest in a good generator set and some fuel cos the power company must pull an “Amaka stunt on you”. But, with a coworking space, you don’t have to worry about those. You’d have good furniture to work with and uninterrupted power supply. Some could provide stationery, admin services and conference room for meetings. Others would go as far as providing your gym membership and coffees during work. The pricing varies. You could pay a subscription or membership fee for some months, while you could pay on daily or hourly bases. In the end, you save some money.
- Structure: One of the hardest things for a freelancer or an independent professional working from home is building a workable structure – knowing when to do what. I write better in the morning, but when at home, some days I keep dragging the horse (that’s myself) around all day and ending up writing at night and not writing at all on some days. You build some structure into your work routine; when you have an office space to go to. You make some routines that can help you work at your best.
- Improved Productivity and Motivation: Take it from me, nothing is as hurting as when I am busy trying to write and I have my nephews or any family member coming with some of their distractions. Let me not mention the one that can come from my own end. There’s no way I’d pay for an office space and end up watching Acrimony and arguing over who is guilty and who isn’t with some of my WhatsApp contacts; when I ideally should be working. Again, the presence of other youngsters busy working their butts off on their personal projects could serve as some form of motivation. Some coworking spaces provide some form of recreation for their clients. You could use that every once in a while to relax before getting back to work.
- Collaboration and Networking: The truth is being a millennial entrepreneur, freelancer or an independent professional can feel like walking a lonely path. I remember my first VA job and how I longed to meet other VAs to compare notes. I found myself going to a cyber cafe to work; even when I could comfortably work from home, just to have some human interactions. Then, I didn’t know coworking spaces exist. Coworking spaces help you meet other young entrepreneurs with whom you can network and subsequently collaborate with. You can build contacts that you can use even when you may have stopped using the shared office space.
- Flexibility: Coworking spaces offer some flexibility as opposed to renting your own office space. Most coworking spaces give you the option of paying on an hourly or daily basis, instead of yearly. Now, renting an office space can involve some legal stuff that you may not be able to understand. Of course, the Devil Wears Prada, the office key could get broken; your photocopier stops working, and you may need to hire some plumber to fix the toilet that won’t flush. Tonnes of unplanned, but necessary expenses could spring up and ache your head when you should have been closing businesses. You won’t need to worry about all these if you share an office.
- Central Location: You may not have enough money to rent an office space in a central location. Your office would, therefore, be hard for clients to locate. As a rule, coworking spaces are in central locations that anyone can easily reach without sweating.
Do you use a co-working space? How effective is it? Why would you consider a coworking space? Share your inputs in the comments section.