Co-Working Guide

January 9, 2016 by Andreas in Blog & News, Tutorials & Tipps

Co-Working is a new trend which started to become popular few years ago. The basic idea is, that many jobs do not require a large office and in order to keep down cost, you settle with a desk in someone else’s office or directly share a desk in a dedicated Co-Working office. Young entrepreneurs or those with a part time activity who do not have the space or environment at home that allows them to work there, may opt for Co-Working as it can save you a lot of money. Every country and every city is different in terms of price levels, but generally speaking, if you want to maintain even a tiny office on your own, you will face the cost for the rent, a contract with the utilities company, a phone line and your internet connection. In most western countries it will be difficult to maintain your own tiny office for less than 500€, while a desk in a Co-Working office may cost you as little as 100€ including energy, internet, water, etc.

At that price it can definitely make sense to opt for your desk in a Co-Working environment for a number of reasons:

  1. As it is not your home where you are working it is likely that you tend to take it more serious, making best use of your time when you are there.
  2. Sharing the office with others will provide you the opportunity to meet new people and exchange thoughts, ideas and knowledge between each other.
  3. If your personal situation changes, it will be fairly easy to relocate your Co-Working desk to anywhere else.
  4. At a price of around 100€ you will be able to start generating profits much earlier than having you own office.
  5. Depending on the folks who are with you in the Co-Working office, you may be able to share certain hardware like printers, fax, etc.
  6. Despite only having a desk, often Co-Working offices include the usage of a meeting room. If you have to receive customers a must have feature.
  7. You have the flexibility to choose a location close to your customers without the need to change your flat in case you worked at home.

So what does it take to maintain a Co-Working office space. Surprisingly little I would say, though it depends of course on what kind of work you want to do there. It won’t work if you have to do something that generates noise and dust. Co-Working in an office has nothing to do with having a shared workshop. It’s you, usually having a desk of about 1.2-1.5 metres in width alongside some space in a chest of drawers or on some shelves and little more than that. A chair and a desk lamp may or may not be provided, sometimes there this a shared fax or even a reception desk secretary who may take calls for you when you are not in. While those are additional features and some people only need to bring their laptop with them to be able to productive, I thought of a more comprehensive way of fitting out such a Co-Working office space with some decent equipment which will allow you to work very well and flexible. The following is a non-binding list of suggested items which you might need:

  1. Your PC: The choice of the machine you may use heavily depends on what kind of processing power you need. A barebone system has the advantage of being removeable easily even if you go to the office on your bike, but a large desktop PC may offer a better performance for the same money. It is worthwhile to make sure that the machine is reasonable powerful for what you want to do and it comes with a wide range of connectors.
  2. Your Screen: Many people underestimate the importance of a large screen with a high resolution. While some 1600×900 pixel screen may be sufficient to do some text processing and web surfing, when it comes to graphics, design, CAD, etc, forget about all that and go straight to a 4k screen. It may set you back more than two full HD screens, but the additional benefit of having the resolution of 4 full HD screens on just one is amazing and with all the windows you can maintain open and visible at once, you will save a lot of time.
  3. Your Printer: If you only happen to print two or three pages a months, you may not need one but you could ask someone else in the office with a printer to help you out. Then again, having one is not a bad thing and if you do not print a lot, a multi-purpose inkjet printer with a built in scanning feature, copy feature and possibly a fax engine may be the best idea. Printing cost per page is high, but printing quality is amazing these days even for printers priced at less than 100€. The scan feature can be important too at some point and for some users. Only if you need to print several hundreds of pages every month I would recommend to consider a most costly laser printer.
  4. Your cables & peripherals: You will know best which devices you are going to connect but generally speaking it is wise to have a USB 3.0 hub for desktop usage with at least 4 ports so that you can connect your mobile phone, your camera, a card reader, etc. Some USB cables are good to have too, as well as a network cable to connect to the office LAN. Headphones are well worth to as well just like 2-3 USB sticks you could use to store some data on for your customers. A headset could be good if you need to communicate a lot and a Micro SD adapter may be handy too. If you are into audio or video editing you might need other cables, just make sure you have at hand what you need.
  5. A desk lamp: If you happen to work late in the office, a decent desk lamp with the possibility to adjust the temperature of the light from cold to warm is useful to illuminate documents, books and other things you may have in front of you on your desk.
  6. Office stuff: Don’t forget to have the standard office equipment starting with some pens/pencils, paper, envelopes, Scotch tape, scissors, some spare batteries for the wireless keyboard/mouse or other battery powered devices you may have, some spare cartridges for the printer, a ruler, a flashlight (just in case), your business cards, some stamps if you send out ordinary mail and maybe some other things you may need from time to time.
  7. Other things: A kitchen roll is a good thing to have, just in case you spill come drink over your desk. Chewing gums are good to have too just like a toothbrush and toothpaste if you need to stay over night in the office and meet someone the next morning. Some deodorant could sometimes be useful too, just as toothpicks, some Aspirins and/or other medication you take, a post-it note block, some plastic bags that can serve as rubbish bags, maybe a paper lamination machine if you use this for your work and finally hide some 20€ somewhere in the office, just in case you get there one day without any money and you need to get yourself something to eat or pay for the bus back home.
  8. Food & Drinks: If you stay in the office for many hours you will be happy to have some water or beverage at hand when you get thirsty, you could keep some crisps or fruits there. However, I would limit it to the basic things as you will be in the office to work, not to have lunch or dinner.
  9. Books: Depending on the kind of work you do, you may find having some books, guides or other printed resources around, which might not be available in the internet. However, I would suggest to bring with you only those things you really need. Space in a Co-Working office is not so ample, so do not expect that you can have a library behind your desk.
  10. Software: In order to work efficiently you should have on your computer all the software you need for your work, well configured, shortcuts for easy access, etc. Take your time before moving in to configure your machine to your requirements, something that may take a couple of hours.
  11. Data: It’s important to have your data with you to work on what you want to work on. However, consider to have either a cloud storage solution, so in case your computer failed you datas was still there, or make regular updates to some external storage like a USB harddisk.

That’s about all you need. Of course, everyone out there will be doing different things in the office, so the requirements may vary. I have seen people who apparently were ok to only bring their laptop and little dog with them getting their work done while others need a computer with 4 screens alongside a large plotter and plenty more stuff to be able to work properly. If you just need your laptop, you will be done with around 500€ of investment into your office space. If you want a decent workspace calculate with some 2.000-2.500€ and if you need a lot of equipment you might need 10.000€ or more. Still, if you only pay around 100€ a month versus some 500€ for your own office, you save almost 5.000€ in the first year alone. Co-Working can thus be an economic and exciting way to have your own office though it can have some disadvantages too:

  1. Your own office is your own office and you can be there 24/7/365 while some Co-Working offices have “opening hours” which could represent some limitation for you.
  2. Co-Working means, that you have little space and those around you too. If everyone is in the office at the same time, you will inevitably have people talking loudly on the phone, other listening to music, all of which may or may not distract you from what you are doing. If you are sensitive to that you might have a problem with it.
  3. Every place can get robbed, but a Co-Working place where numerous if not dozens of persons have access to the office could sometimes bear more risk of someone stealing from you. Keep an eye on others and speak to the one who is landlord about this before moving in.
  4. If you have your own office, even if it is tiny, you will have plenty more space than just some desk. You could have your private sofa in the office where you could take a nap, you could have way more books, you could do things that produced some noise, you may feel more comfortable when it came to personal belongings laying around, you could have your own fridge, etc.

Still, I believe for most people only about to get started, Co-Working is a very good choice. Once you are starting to get successful you can still move to your own office.

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