Five Coworking Space Amenities to Look For
Most of us have spent the last five months working from home, getting up at 7:55 AM, shuffling to our desk, and starting our day literally a few yards from where we slept. We miss being outside. We miss going to the office and all its kitchen amenities. We miss being with other people. We even miss Loud Janice whose loud phone calls can be heard from 30 feet away, even when we’re wearing earbuds.
Others have just started a new business and we want a professional workspace where we can meet clients. We a workplace different from home that doesn’t involve working out of a coffee shop every day. (I did this for six months once, and it was a lot of fun, but I always smelled like coffee and it ended up costing more than my office.)
Or home may be a little loud and chaotic. There are animals, kids, and enough noise that you’ve started working next to a highway construction zone for a little relief.
If you’re looking for a new coworking space for any reason, there are a few amenities to look for when choosing a space. Many large cities have more than one coworking space as well as those single private office condos. Prices and amenities will vary, but there are a few options to consider when making your choice.
Here are five amenities to look for in your next coworking space.
1. Is there a low price for a hot desk?
A hot desk is basically an unassigned desk that anyone can claim. It’s like working from a coffee shop: You take whatever table is available. You can’t reserve it or get the one you had yesterday, even if you sat there 12 days in a row. You’re guaranteed a seat, but it’s a special surprise each day.
The hot desk (also called the community level) is usually the lowest-price level in a coworking space. It’s a nice option for the budget-conscious as well as the mobile entrepreneur who can fit everything into their bag. It’s not so fun if you have a lot of stuff to carry around, like an extra monitor, or stacks of papers. For that, you’ll want a reserved desk.
Typical hot desk prices can range anywhere from $49 to $249 per month. Reserved desks can be as much as $299 – $799 per month.
2. Is there nearby parking? How much is it?
There’s some prestige to having a downtown address, especially if you meet with a lot of clients, and especially if your clients are downtown as well. But you’re going to pay for that downtown address in more ways than one.
I haven’t seen a single big city that doesn’t find a way to dig into your pocket, especially for parking. If you’re fortunate, your downtown coworking space will have monthly parking options available to you for a couple hundred dollars. If you’re not, you’ll either pay $1 – $3 per hour, or you’ll have to park several blocks away and walk to your office (I used to do this in Indianapolis, walking 7 blocks just to avoid paying $10/day in parking.)
Some coworking spaces will have their own parking available, but usually only if it’s in a standalone building or if they’re a few miles outside the downtown area.
Suburban coworking spaces should have free parking, which can save you as much as $400 – $500 per month. And your clients might appreciate not paying for parking when they come to visit you.
3. Do you have to sign a contract or can you pay month-to-month?
Ideally, you don’t want to be locked into a contract at all. That’s what’s been hurting many small businesses, especially during the pandemic. And if you’re starting a new business, chances are you’re bootstrapping it, which probably means you’re cutting a lot of costs including things like rent.
A coworking space should offer month-to-month occupancy, letting you come and go as you need it. For example, if you’re a snowbird who spends their time in the Midwest for half the year, and you head to Florida or Arizona for the other half, you don’t want to pay for the months you’re not in town.
On the other hand, some coworking spaces may offer you a discount if you sign a one-year contract, so don’t turn up your nose at a chance to save some money if you know you’re going to be sticking around for a while.
4. How convenient is it to get food?
You’re going to be in your office for 8 or more hours per day. Unless you’re going to bring lunch and snacks every day (see below), you need to be able to easily get to area restaurants, and preferably more than one.
When I spent my time at a Downtown Orlando coworking space, I could easily walk to a couple dozen different restaurants within a three-block radius. But when I tried another space just a couple miles away, there were absolutely no food options within walking distance.
5. Do they offer coffee, snacks, and other fun amenities?
This may seem like a frivolity or luxury, but coffee and snacks speak to the care a coworking space gives to its tenants. Do they have high-quality snacks and great coffee, or are they plying you with day-old donuts and a year-old can of instant coffee? Or worse, do they have nothing at all?
The coworking space I just mentioned with no nearby food options? I spent one day there because there were absolutely no amenities whatsoever, just a desk and a bathroom. And it cost the same as the space with plenty of snacks, regular coffee, and a beer tap. Even a terrible coffee shop has food
Beverages and snacks are a simple and low-cost amenity that coworking spaces provide their tenants in order to distinguish themselves from other spaces. I’ve worked in a few spaces that didn’t have any kinds of snacks at all, and while I was grateful to have the space, I always like the snacky (Snackful? Snackalicious?) spaces better, because I felt like they appreciated me more.
Of course, you don’t want to eat your entire month’s payment in snacks, because then the space isn’t turning a profit, and they’ll either cut snacks, raise your rent, or go out of business. The idea is that these small snacks are there to give you something to do, something to keep your mouth from getting bored, and maybe even help you stay awake. They’re not a meal replacement.
There are more important features and amenities that a coworking space can/should provide, like providing educational sessions, hosting networking events, and creating a strong sense of community. Those should be the things that keep you at the space, but these five amenities should be the things that bring you in the door.
To learn more about coworking and how a coworking space can help you grow your business and give you great snacks, please visit our website at NeowareStudios.com.
Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Used with permission)