Working from home can be an ideal scenario for some, but many feel isolated if they’re not part of a conventional office environment. Coffee shops offer an alternative workspace, but they can get crowded and distracting. However, there’s a third choice that’s becoming increasingly popular with freelancers and remote employers: coworking.
You may know a bit about coworking, maybe you’ve even tried it yourself. The idea is that people pay either a membership fee or on a ‘per visit’ basis to use an office space that’s specifically set up for those who don’t go into a corporate office every day. It’s a trend that’s been growing as the traditional work environment is being reshaped by internet connectivity and tech-savvy young workers. According to a recent article on Forbes, coworking spaces have increased by 400% in the last two years.
But although there’s been a huge increase in the number of coworking spaces, they’re still very much in-demand and could present a great opportunity for ambitious investors or entrepreneurs. They’re relatively straightforward to set up: you essentially need a space, a stable internet connection, and furniture, and can provide a high ROI for their owners as long as they appeal to workers while allowing for productivity and collaboration.
Arrange furniture for different goals. Rather than just setting up rows of desks facing the same direction, create a variety of stations so that workers can decide what space will best help them meet their goals. For example, a graphic design and copywriting team might want a larger office table so that they can sit together and spread out their ideas for a marketing campaign, while a virtual assistant might prefer a quieter corner desk.
Focus on the culture of the space. Workplace culture is one of the most important factors for millennials when choosing a job, so you’ll need to make sure your coworking space promotes the kind of culture that remote workers would otherwise miss out on. Don’t be afraid to let your personality and tastes show. For example, Link Coworking in Austin, TX, allows workers to use both indoor and outdoor space, and they regularly change their quirky decor to keep things interesting.
Set up a caf. A lot of coworking spaces include a central caf or coffee bar, since many of the people who work there will be sitting at a desk for hours and would use a lunch break. Including a caf can make a coworking space more social by allowing people to eat together and get to know each other, even if they’re not working on the same project.
Think about other uses for the space. Depending on the size of the space and your set-up, you may also be able to rent your coworking space out for larger group meetings, conferences, or weekend events. You’re paying for the space, so you might as well make the most of it.
Opening a coworking space requires commitment, and growth may be slow at first, but if you persevere and play around with the design, you may find yourself the owner of one of the most popular coworking spaces in Canada. And don’t forget that, when you’re first getting set up, Alliance Interiors can help you come up with and implement your ideal design plan.
Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors Inc., has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada's leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.