As the owner of a small startup, an independent contractor, or a freelancer, finding an affordable workspace outside of your home can sometimes be a challenge. While many independent entrepreneurs effectively run their businesses from their homes, coffee shops and other public spaces, others may desire a more professional workspace for meetings, and to separate home and work life.
For these reasons and more, coworking spaces have grown in popularity over the past few years. Coworking spaces allow individuals to rent out workspace in an environment alongside others doing the same. The Creative Space, in Barrie, Ont., for example, rents out nine desks full-time and 14 by the hour or the day. They also have four offices for rent on a second floor, and open loft space available for groups.
The coworking movement has roughly doubled in size each year since 2006, according to Deskmag, which also states there are now more than 1,100 spaces worldwide. For someone who works or runs a business independently, renting out coworking space offers a number of potential benefits:
Additionally, a certain culture tends to develop at coworking spaces, which may prove advantageous to workers. As this Business Week article states, coworking facilities “help fill the social needs people have either informally, by simply bringing together a group of people with similar interests, or formally, through networking events, holiday parties, and even softball leagues.”
When individuals come together to work – even if they are not working on the same projects – they may find themselves being more productive. This is because being around others who are focused on working, creating, strategizing, and making connections, offers a much different environment from your own kitchen or the local coffee shop.
For a business owner with extra space, it may also be worth considering renting out areas for coworking. One strategic way to do this is to consider the services you offer, and what types of businesses might see mutual benefits from being in the same location. A design firm, for example, could benefit from sharing space with writers, photographers and other independent designers, who may find ways to collaborate or refer clients to each other.
In addition to the financial benefits of renting out space, those who run coworking facilities similarly recognize the workplace culture they are a part of.
“The motivation is to make life better,” Chad Ballantyne, founder of The Creative Space, tells the Globe & Mail. "We see that happening by helping our neighbours, focusing on building relationships, doing excellent work together and seeing our lives as not something to live just for ourselves.”
Chris Mejaski is a Toronto-based writer and digital communications professional, with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University and an M.A. in Communication and Culture from Ryerson and York universities.