Co-working is a growing trend in a changing job market. The increasing number of freelancers and contract workers need little more than a computer and Internet connection. Co-working spaces can be a professional and inspiring work environment, but experts say co-working spaces must be created and managed properly to be successful.

Co-working is a growing trend in a changing job market. The increasing number of freelancers and contract workers need little more than a computer and Internet connection. Co-working spaces can be a professional and inspiring work environment, but experts say co-working spaces must be created and managed properly to be successful.


Co-working spaces have a few core requirements, and they should generate a sense of community.


The basics


Of course, the most basic requirement is enough space for each workspace, as well as communal areas and conference rooms.


Ben Jenkins owns the Workhaus co-working lodge in Dallas. He suggests at least 100 square feet per worker, but that doesn’t have to be a separate room. Many co-working spaces have large rooms with several workspaces, plus other communal areas.


Jenkins also said houses are not conducive to co-working spaces.


“Most of the co-workers are trying to get OUT of their houses,” he said in an email interview. “That is one of the big reasons to co-work.”


On the other hand, Conjunctured is a spacious Austin home that has been converted into one of the most successful co-working ventures in the country.


To be sure, Conjunctured features many vital amenities rarely found in private homes, including a fax machine, copier and color laser printer and a continual flow of all-you-can-drink fresh-roasted coffee.


Perhaps most important, it has business-grade wireless Internet. A cheap DSL or cable Internet connection won’t cut it for a co-working space. Expect plenty of graphic designers and other bandwidth hogs among the users of a co-working space.


Another co-working necessity that most homes can’t accommodate is conference space. Since most co-working spaces have fairly open floor plans with shared workspaces, users need a quiet, secluded space for meetings, even if held by phone or Skype. A well-managed scheduling system is a must, and teleconference equipment is a good bonus.


The community


Of course, all that equipment and free coffee costs money, so co-working space owners typically charge a daily fee for working in the space. However, Jenkins warned that trying to make a big profit is the biggest mistake in creating a co-working space.


In a 2010 Microsoft study, telecommuters said they are more productive when working remotely. However, the main complaint about working with other telecommuters is the lack of face-to-face contact.


Jenkins said co-working space owners should focus on encouraging such contact, and cultivating culture and community.


Effective co-working spaces also maintain community by hosting speakers and networking events for users, and even happy hours and other social events.


Some co-working spaces cater to a single industry, while others welcome small businesses and independent freelancers across any industry. Jenkins said both types of setup offer learning opportunities.


Co-working spaces can be set up virtually anywhere, with a few business-friendly amenities and the proper sense of community.


Steve Graham writes for Hometalk.com.


http://www.networx.com/article/creating-a-co-working-space