3 reasons why coworking spaces are the best option for desk-based startups

7 March 2023

Coworking spaces are office environments where people share equipment, facilities and ideas. Its popularity with startups – as well as more established organisations – has skyrocketed since the concept took root in the early 2000s.

According to recent Bloomberg Intelligence data, businesses in the capital are reducing their office footprints and swapping long office leases for more flexible arrangements. As many as a quarter of companies are downsizing and a further 18% are opting for coworking and flexible office spaces. Coworking spaces are designed to facilitate a variety of working styles and schedules. Here are three key reasons why it remains the best option for startups.

1. It’s a business ecosystem

In its intended context an ecosystem is a place where organisms, weather and landscapes combine to form a living environment. Coworking spaces can be viewed as business ecosystems that provide the right conditions for startup success. Coworking spaces are designed in a way that allows collaboration to take place. 

Even if your startup rents a private office in a coworking building, it’ll still have access to the shared spaces – including breakout areas and the kitchen. Access to shared amenities means you’ll naturally strike up conversations with innovators and business owners who aren’t part of your usual professional network. 

When startups work alongside other startups, collaboration is inevitable. Let’s say you’re looking for someone to help with coding for your website. You might not have the required expertise within your own team, but a freelance developer who’s working in the same coworking space as you might be able to help. 

Most coworking spaces invite members to be a part of a group on a shared communication platform, making it easier to filter people by skills and reach out. 

Of course, startups also need privacy and quietude to digest information and consolidate ideas. Fortunately, coworking spaces are set up to provide these too. Most coworking spaces come with meeting rooms, phone booths and work pods. 

2. It can boost your green credentials

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set a target for London to be net zero carbon by 2030. The capital is leading the way when it comes to going green: its green economy is currently worth £48bn and there are lots of opportunities for funding. 

London is investing in green transport and building infrastructure. In terms of vehicles, London now has over 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) charge points which equates to more than 30% of the UK market share.

A growing number of coworking spaces are also going green, and some have even achieved B Corp status. B Corps are organisations that can prove, through the accreditation, that they prioritise environmental and societal issues. 

x+why is one example of a B Corp coworking space. Situated in Whitechapel, x+y also supports members who also want to achieve B Corp status, and is working towards 13 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Long-running coworking operators are also making commitments to become more environmentally and socially friendly. Established in 1994, last year BE Offices pledged to become a B Corp flexible workspace operator.

Whichever coworking space you choose, carbon emissions and green credentials are something to keep in mind, as well as cost and amenities. After all, your suppliers’ footprint will have an impact on your own Scope 3 carbon emissions. 

3. It’s flexible and all-inclusive 

Setting a startup up for success requires lots of planning and an agile business mindset. Agility makes it easier to weather changes in the market and seize opportunities as they arise. Coworking itself is an agile business solution. 

In fact, we’d argue that coworking is the most flexible workspace model out there. You can sign up for a coworking membership on a monthly rolling basis, allowing you to leave at short notice if you need to save money or things don’t work out.

Similarly, you can scale up to a bigger space at short notice if your startup begins to scale. If there’s enough room and you like where you are, you might even be able to do this within the same building. Otherwise, it’s likely that you’ll just need to give a month’s notice. The main coworking membership types are:

  • Day pass: where you rent a desk for a day
  • Hot desking: a certain number of hours or days per month
  • Dedicated desk: your own desk with full-time access
  • Private office: a partitioned office for your team

Most coworking spaces operate on an all-inclusive basis which makes cash flow easier to manage too. As well as the desk rental, the monthly price also includes:

  • Cleaning
  • Utilities, e.g. your share of electricity and heating
  • Shared facilities access
  • Access to member events 
  • Snacks and hot drinks 
  • Bike storage 

Some things, such as meeting room usage, are usually charged on top. Meeting rooms are bookable and members are usually given a discount. Many coworking spaces hire meeting rooms out to non-members as a way of boosting their revenue. 

How to find a coworking space

You can use First Office Hub to find a coworking space near you. First Office Hub’s database is home to over 5,000 flexible workspace locations in the UK’s major cities, including London. It’s free to use and an advisor will help you secure the best deal.

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