11 Reasons to Use a Coworking Center (aka Shared Office Space)

I’ve been in the “shared space” business off and on since 1989. I recently opened a coworking & business center hybrid and am testing this model before opening more locations in the St Louis Metro area and nationally.   Exit 11 Workspace along with 14 other coworking centers that have launched in the last few years were featured in EQ’s Guide to Coworking in St. Louis this past November.

The more traditional “business centers” were not mentioned – many of which have been around for over 30 years. Below are links to all of those centers.

Each center has a different look and feel so you really do have to visit them to see if it’s a fit. However, location is a primary driver for many mobile workers when they choose a shared space.

Here are 11 of many reasons independent workers choose shared workspace.

  1. No upfront costs. With some centers you might have a deposit or set-up fee but other than that, you don’t have the normal start-up costs associated with leasing an office like: copier lease, printer, coffee machine, furniture, artwork, office supplies, technology, phones system, data install, etc.
  2. Ready to move in - the space is already furnished and ready to go. Whether you need a furnished office or a comfy chair to plop into for the day, you can move in the same day you visit the center.
  3. No long-term commitment – most centers have day passes and allow you to go month-to-month. A ‘long-term” commitment is a year and you usually get some kind of discount for signing for a year.
  4. Flexible space options – if the center has a coworking or community lounge, you have lots of seating options from café tables, lounge seating, bar seating and semi-private workstations. More traditional or hybrid centers have dedicated offices, conference and training rooms.
  5. Someone else manages the workspace - if the power goes out or the heat doesn’t work – not your problem! The Manager or Owner of the space has to deal with it. If the copier breaks or the coffee runs out – their problem.
  6. Built-in staff - Yay! You don’t have to hire someone to answer your phones, accept your packages and mail, make the coffee, set up the conference room, order catering or hand write your holiday cards. There is already a support person on duty to do all of that for you.
  7. Access to Meeting Rooms – when you only need a private office to sign that paperwork, conduct interviews offsite, host a lunch-n-learn or kick off a board meeting, use a coworking space. So many businesses have conference rooms and boardrooms that sit vacant 80% of the time – which is why I am launching Swing-Space (coming first quarter 2016)
  8. No kids or pets (ideally) – In most centers, the owner of the coworking space won't allow dogs and kids unless it is an emergency or needed as a support dog.   I love kids and dogs but I (like many people) am allergic to dogs and cats and I already had to work with four kids running around me, so I really wouldn’t want to PAY to work with someone else’s adorable kids distracting me. So find a center that is geared towards business people rather than a playground (unless of course that’s your thing).
  9. Coffee and Wi-Fi included – almost all coworking and shared office centers offer basic Wi-Fi and self-serve coffee as part of the membership package.
  10. Impromptu Networking – the Community Space offered by most coworking centers is full of sales reps, consultants, start-ups, solo-preneurs, creative folks - so you are bound to make some connections. Some centers also host monthly or weekly happy hours or networking events.
  11. Walk in and Work™  – even if you aren’t a member or client of a coworking center or business center, you can walk into any one of them and work for the day or even for an hour.

Here's some of my St. Louis business center friends that weren't including in the Coworking Guide: AMG Corporate OfficesCenterco Office Suites, Regus,LifeWorks Business Center, and Plaza Executive Suites.  There are smaller coworking centers opening up later this year and Exit 11 plans to open at least two more in 2016 - give us your vote on where.