As they pop up all over the world, co-working spaces are changing from ‘cool’ places that allowed people from different companies to work at a lower fee to genuine facilitators of start ups and new ideas.
Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace, a co-working joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap with two offices in Sandton, said: “With a growing number of co-working spaces in South Africa, the narrative is changing from just being a novel place to work to being a facilitator for start-ups and a hotbed for entrepreneurship.
“Co-working spaces too are recognising this and are moving beyond just colourful interiors and ethically sourced coffee to offer partnerships with top companies, workshops and knowledge sharing.”
It’s no longer just about affordability
Said Trim;”Even though of the biggest advantages of a co-working space is the cheaper rent when compared to signing a lease for office space, having access to flexible co-working is effective at every, from solo operators right up to multinational corporations.
“Opportunities to interact are less restricted in a co-working office space. It can be challenging in traditional settings to interact face to face with other employees and have the sorts of conversations that can spark great ideas. In a flexible workspaces built on collaboration people are interacting with fellow workers not simply from within their own business but more widely.”
A nexus of networking
“Increasingly our clients tell us it is the incredible networking opportunities that makes co-working spaces so very attractive,“ Trim noted.
Trim added that she believes that this is where the co-working space offering has rapidly evolved from beyond well priced office space to giving growing companies and professionals an opportunity to network, collaborate and grow with people from different phases of life and levels of professional experiences.
“It also helps with new prospects, guidance and help. By opting for co-working spaces, start-ups and SMEs are able to attract and retain talent.”
Money and flexibility key for start ups
“From a cash flow perspective, co-working space is ideal for start-up entrepreneurs looking for a professional workspace without the high upfront costs. Co-working spaces offer affordable rent, especially in comparison to hiring out a traditional office space,” Trim said. She added that scalability and flexibility are the two strong pillars for the next generation workspace.
“More and more young companies and professionals prefer working out of a co-working space as it allows them to focus on things that really matter to their business and help in leveraging the economies of scale by allowing them to reduce their capital expenditure and utilise the same amount on their operating expenditure.
A co-working space also offers the flexibility to increase and decrease in numbers while providing a work environment which is a combination of infrastructure, employee services, community management, events, and networking, offering young companies a complete ecosystem where they can grow.
A growing trend is for co-working spaces to move beyond just real estate benefits to give their start-ups benefits by partnering with various companies or organising events that enhance the knowledge of the participants. Last year for example at FutureSpace in Katherine Street, Sandton hosted Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson and Discovery’s Adrian Gore amongst others to share their thoughts about becoming starting businesses and also fielding questions from the budding entrepreneurs.
“By organising educational and inspirational events, these co-working spaces help their start-ups to interact with and learn from industry experts.”
What do start ups look for in co-working offices?
With several co-working places to choose from in South Africa today Trim advised start-ups to choose a space that meets all needs so their team can just arrive and work straight away. This means super fast wifi, plentiful meeting rooms and work space, the best in tech for remote meetings via video conferencing and secretarial services at hand. Of course creature comforts like great design, comforting coffee and access to gym round out the quality of the co-working experience.