By Shantanu Mohan
February 4, 2017
“We went from two people to almost 10 in about two months, and it became clear we needed our own office space,” Darna says. “We had too many people to make a co-working space economically viable, and we had vintage toys, board games and displays all over the place and didn’t want them getting in other people’s way. So we took the leap and got our own space.”
It’s a familiar scenario to many startups: The first months (or even years) are often executed from the couch, basement or kitchen table. But as the business grows, it’s time to move — and where you go is important. Your location can affect your company’s productivity, creativity and community, not to mention budget. Insiders agree that choosing the right environment depends on the work that’s being done and the people who are doing it. Before you commit, consider the pros and cons of four kinds of workspaces.
One of the first places startups turn to when looking for a “real” office (i.e., not the living room) is a co-working space like WorkSocial. A shared space home of other small businesses. While coworking was no longer an option for Darna, many find that working in shared space has distinct advantages. Natasha Mohan managing director of the Jersey City says “it’s a great way to spark community and innovation among startups.”
“Most startups don’t have a culture or community yet, so they can go into a facility and instantly become part of a community and make connections with other young workers,” Mohan says. “And when they’re immersed in that noise and activity, they can benefit from synergy and new ideas that arise from chance conversations from around the room.”
That’s just the tech giant found while operating in a co-working space. “Listening to what other people are doing can spark an idea or conversation, and other opportunities can arise as well,” says the CEO of Alpharetta, Ga.-based School Growth, which provides professional development programming for schools and school boards.
Barron once discovered he shared a client with someone across the room, which allowed them to combine efforts for the benefit of both startups as well as the client. Another time, a fellow group from the co-working space helped Barron solve a problem that they had already dealt with. “That completely short-circuited our learning curve,” he says.
But not every co-working spaces work. Susan Tynan, founder and CEO of Framebridge, an online framing company based in Lanham, Md., set up her team of five at a co-working space when she launched in 2014 but realized almost immediately it was not right for the daily operations of her business.
“Because we have a physical product as part of our business, we had a lot of packages coming to our space, and co-working spaces are not built for that,” Tynan says. “So, long before we even launched our website, we had to move out.”
If privacy is an issue, you may want to look for our captive space options, adds Mohan, who notes that a shared space has the possibility of compromising intellectual capital. “For some, confidentiality is huge,” she says. We offer short term options for captive “swing space”
Co-working space create positive growth experiences. And because at times employees cannot be with each other, a fixed space would not be a worthwhile expense. A five-person central team working from home in addition to a shared space can be idea. “Having space that contributes to your value proposition is more important than feeling like you have a cool space,” some say.