Co-working spaces are way more than just a cool place to spend the day and share the office rental
Rather they are becoming genuine facilitators of startups 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 be 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 one 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 level, 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. Inflexible 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, FutureSpace in Katherine Street, Sandton hosted Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson and Discovery’s Adrian Gore among others – to share their thoughts about becoming start-up businesses and also field questions from the budding entrepreneurs.
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 workspace, the best in tech for remote meetings via video conferencing and secretarial services at hand.
Of course, creature comforts like a great design, comforting coffee and access to gym round out the quality of the co-working experience