The Values of a Co-Working Space

About 2 months ago, we started asking founders in interviews about their workspaces. We started to receive rave reviews about co-working spaces, so we thought we would check it out to see what the buzz was about.

Here at Stacklist, we work in a co-working space called Alley, and we are big fans. We have been here since January and have enjoyed its perks, sense of community, and networking opportunities. We have also found that 39% of founders we interviewed used co-working offices. Co-working spaces to us have been a place of growth. But do others feel that way?

Well, we went to the experts over at deskmag and checked out their 2015-2106 annual report on co-working spaces. We began at the members section, and it is from there that we pulled our data. Check out some of our insights below.

You can’t forget that humans are fundamentally social creatures. In traditional office spaces, this need for socialization can easily be stifled. Co-working spaces facilitate interaction and networking that humans on an instinctual level need in their everyday lives. It turns out we were not alone in what we valued in our co-working space. 76% of members of co-working spaces valued a sense of community in their work environment. 75% valued interaction with others. 58% felt like part of their co-working communities.

These are values that line up with those in the startup community and that we often hear espoused by our founders. It’s no surprise that founders often pick startup hubs that cater to their specific needs and core values.

However, what are some of the benefits of working in a co-working space in terms of member involvement? Working in the same space can lead to collaboration with other startups and the sharing of ideas. There is a prevailing sense of equality, with 69% of members feeling like there was no sense of hierarchy in these co-working spaces. Additionally, 45% felt that working in a co-working hub could lead to new job opportunities or projects.

What we also noticed was that 62% of members valued affordability of co-working spaces as 1 of their top 10 reasons to work in a co-working office. But is it a good deal after all?

So we know that members benefit and thrive in these co-working communities, but how expensive is it really? It turns out that it is pretty cheap to work in one of these engaging spaces! Deskmag broke down price into 3 distinct categories:

They found that for 24/7 access, the monthly membership fee averaged $305 per member. For only workday hours, the average price dropped to $199. And for those startups that only need to work a couple of days a week, the price was only $134 (note: deskmag did not clarify the specific number of days a week). Overall, 85% of respondents reported that they felt they were getting a good price for the value of the co-working space.

Many of the prices are affordable for us in the startup community, where sometimes - especially in the early stages - money can be tight. Co-working spaces are often marketed as hubs for startups because they align and values and are affordable.

Here at Stacklist - as is true across the startup community - we are getting younger and younger, recently bringing on some recent college graduates (say hello to yours truly). It turns out that this is not a unique situation for other startups. As the millennial generation gets to work, their presence in the work force has increased. 28% of employees in co-working spaces were aged 18-29, up from 25% in the previous report.

Freelancing is also on the decline. While 42% of employees that were based out of these co-working spaces were freelancers in the 2013-2014 report, that number drastically decreased to 32%. In the same turn, the percent of full time employees increased from 37% to 51%, an interesting trend.

Co-working vs. Traditional Office
Once upon a time, people mostly saw co-working offices as an upgrade from a home office, where startups often begin. Once your team grew big enough or you got that seed funding, it was time to pack up things at home and move into a new office. While the original goal for many startups was a traditional office environment, co-working spaces have not only usurped this role as an end goal, but also have been attracting clients from traditional offices.

In the 2013-2014 report, 57% of members worked from a home office before moving into a co-working space. That number faced a steep decline, falling to 44%.

Switching from traditional office spaces proved to be the other side of this equation. It appears that this sense of community has become more valued in the business world. This could be a driving factor of moving to a co-working space, where extra emphasis is placed on the community atmosphere. While 23% of members moved from a traditional office workplace to a co-working space in the 2013-2014 report, that number jumped to a high of 37%. This demonstrates that co-working spaces are starting to seem highly desirable – even optimal – when compared to a traditional office.

Is it worth it?
The answer to this question really depends on what you are looking for. Co-working can be a great tool and can help you grow your startup. If you want to promote a sense of community that grows all while relatively affordable, then co-working spaces might be a good fit for you. Co-working has gone global, so there is a good chance there is a co-working space in your city.

What is clear is that co-working has some serious benefits. Check out a co-working space in your locale, and check back with Stacklist in a couple weeks to delve into some co-working spaces we think are the next big thing in office environments.