Is Co-working Right for You?
Imagine an office that, instead of time-in clocks and cubicles, boasts a inviting open layout, flexible hours, a fun ambiance, and free-flowing coffee—the kind of environment in which the creative, can-do spirit of entrepreneurs thrive. You just pictured a coworking space, many of which have now peppered the metro.
"Entrepreneurs usually have limited time, limited capital, and maximum ideas: Ideas are the currency of our innovation community; risk is acceptable; capital is scarce," says Matt Morrison, founder of A SPACE, which has offices in Makati and Taguig. "Therefore, when entrepreneurs have capital they prefer to spend it on ideas and people, on making things happen."
Businesses on a budget can cut costs and put their finite resources to better use when they turn to co-working spaces instead of renting out office space. Pia Ybanez, one of the co-founders of Alabang-based Launchpad Coworking, says, "Coworking spaces have become a great alternative for SMEs and entrepreneurs who are looking to move their businesses to a real office" without having to worry over leases or other overhead costs. "I often say that shared workplaces are like coffee shops without the noise and crowd, working from home without the distractions of home life, and libraries without you being shushed.”
But the convenience isn’t the sole source of its appeal. The coworking crowd will often include remote employees, freelancers, and startups—and for good reason: Coworking spaces not only offer their members all the facilities and amenities of a traditional office, but a sense of community and collaboration that has made them popular with the modern-day professional. "Entrepreneurs inhabit a world of relative uncertainty—they are are embracing change, sometimes they are disruptive and causing change. Therefore anyone in their world that is able to support them without restraining their ambition will be of use," says Morrison. "Within a coworking community, we have a shared know-how, collective experience, and a big network of contacts that can save time, money, and pain.”
"I think finding your coworking space is like going on a series of dates—you have to see if you fit in a particular space," says Launchpad co-founder Mel Lozano-Alcaraz. "The best thing to do is to really try one out and see if you have the right chemistry with it." Entrepreneurs should weigh certain factors when choosing the right coworking space for their team: This includes parking space, a strategic location—ideally, you’ll want a workplace that is nearby, or at least easy to get to, and is in proximity of commercial areas—and the facilities it may offer. “A comfortable chair, spacious desk, good air-conditioning and lighting, reliable internet, printing and photocopying services, and a clean space are what you need to look for,” says Lozano-Alcaraz.
Every coworking space also has a different vibe and culture: In A SPACE, for instance, it's more about “caring about the aspirations of our members to the point that their success is our success,” says Morrison. “It means a multitude of events and workshops and programs, it means introductions to the right people and on-demand advice. That’s both a service and a culture—science and art.” These shared offices are where people come to work, but also to network. It's not uncommon for coworking spaces to play host to events like talks, mixers, and workshops—perfect opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand their network, connect with potential business partners, or just make new friends.