11 months after quitting my job and working fulltime on my business, I finally paid for a coworking space.
You will find out which that is at the end of the article, but really, it’s not just about the cost.
There are many other factors you want to consider, especially as someone who’s scaling your business.
Why get a coworking space?
I didn’t know why too. For the first 8 months, I was regularly working at home. It was great. I could start work anytime, work in any attire, and not have to worry about what people around me thought.
But I realised that caused many problems. For one, because food was always around me, I found myself eating when I was procrastinating.
Because of the lack of boundaries between work and home, I also ended up sleeping poorly. I would wake up every night. For months, I tried every single thing I knew. But nothing worked.
Eventually, on the advice of another business owner who spoke about how getting an office gave him a routine, it made me realise the importance of moving out of the home to work.
For 3 months, I studied at public spaces. It seemed reasonable. After all, it was free! And when income in the business was not certain, this seemed to be most ideal.
But I kept getting chased away. Angry library staff would tell me off for not wearing my mask, or give me strange rules like
- you can’t put your water in a cup because it will spill
You get the idea.
After a while, I realised that finding a working space was top priority.
Since getting a coworking space, I’ve found myself more focused. There’s nothing more motivating than knowing that you’re paying good money each month to work. You start treating work like a privilege, and not something that you do as and when you like it.
But a coworking space is also home. You finally feel that there’s a place that you belong to, rather than a place where people will just freely chase you out, if they don’t like your face.
I tried many different places. But before I share the spaces I tried, I want to talk about the principles that you would want to consider.
Top of mind, is cost.
When you’re a young, fledgling start-up, you need to control your costs. Cash flow is the lifeblood of the company and you need to ensure that more money doesn’t leave the company than you’re making.
That’s why finding a cheap, solution is very important.
But cheap doesn’t necessarily have to mean “horrible”. Quality and cost doesn’t need to come at a compromise.
Is the solution scalable? Are you able to add on more members of your team when you grow?
How flexible are the pricing plans? Some places demand a lock-in period of a year, even though you don’t even know if your business will survive till next month.
How do you work best?
Coworking, is not very private. It can feel like you’re back in a university library. The only difference?
You’re working, and not studying.
But that also means that you’re in a space that’s not very private.
You may sit in front of strangers, and people who try to chat you up, even though you’re not interested to hear about the work they are doing. Nor do you really want to talk.
You’re just there to work.
How private do you need your workspace to be, to be effective?
What do you need when you work?
Let’s talk about the physical things.
- Hot water
Different coworking spaces have different levels of access to these basic things. Some of the top end coworking spaces, like WeWork, have a coffee machine for you to make coffee, but others don’t.
It depends on what you need, and how much you want to and can pay.
Let’s now talk about the more intangible things.
For these, I like to look at
In looking at something like your environment, understanding what kind of spaces you enjoy and feel best in is helpful. Personally, I’ve loved spaces where there’s lots of sunlight and inspiration. Spaces which display art, or have regular moving installations make me really excited to come daily.
If it’s quietness, then having a space where everyone can freely talk and have calls is not necessarily the best place.
- People you work with
A coworking space is a shared space. You will never know who comes in. It can be lonely, because it can feel like everyone is doing their own thing, leaving you on your own.
But there are some coworking spaces I haven’t enjoyed much, because most of the people there are loud and gregarious, seemingly trying to show off their latest startup.
It’s your choice.
I spent 3 hours at WeWork, and promptly disliked it.
Why I hated WeWork
The open layout made it really hard for me to concentrate, with all the (loud) conversations making it difficult for me to focus.
But beyond that, if you’re not paying for an office, you will find that you will probably have to queue (and fight) to be the first to get in, so that you can get a nice, more discreet cubbyhole to work in.
For the more popular coworking spaces, like WeWork and Justco, I hear this is a common practice.
Be early to get in, so you can get a nice seat.
But more importantly, WeWork’s layout wasn’t very private. If you were late, you got to seat at the long table, with other random strangers. I didn’t think of paying $300 to sit in front of another stranger.
Often you would see other teams of 3 to 4 having random conversations, disturbing the deep work you’re trying to do.
It costs an average of $300 a month to get a desk. To me, it wasn’t worth it.
WeWork did make the coworking concept popular. For one, the convenient amenities.
I did see why people enjoyed it, with the free coffee, cup washing, making it immediately attractive.
There is even a ping pong table. Don’t be surprised that there’s a pingpong game whilst you’re having a 3pm Zoom call.
Imagine having to answer a client about what’s going on in the background.
Not a great environment
Walk into Justco, which is at Centrepoint Orchard, and you would rarely see any natural sunlight. Instead, you are led into aisle after aisle of coworking spaces, which can feel a little like…
Not many might relate it that way, but it was personally very stifling to work in that location.
You can see the costs.
Oh, the space
I’m officially at Crane.
Nestled in the heart of Arab Street, amidst the graffiti painted walls, and smack in the middle of shophouses, you may initially miss it.
But as you walk in, you will be greeted cheerily by the staff.
With a restaurant at the bottom, you will definitely have a good meal, if you’re looking for it. Prices aren’t exactly cheap though. Brunch starts at $16.
The first day I stepped into Crane at Arab Street, I fell in love with it. I walked into the attic, with its wooden floors, and comfy sofas, and promptly thought,
But beyond that, there’s natural sunlight flowing through the bright open windows.
There are sofas where you can lie down and relax after a long deep work session.
The community you build
But Crane is more than a coworking space. It’s a community space.
With weekly events, it’s been a great place to find inspiration. Imagine having talks, art pop-up exhibitions, all in the same place.
Most importantly, I love the cost. The pricing structure is very flexible, allowing you to pay monthly or yearly.
But even if you pay monthly, you pay $99 for a seat. You can bring someone else too!
That is $50 per month, and roughly $1.67 a day.
Many of these spaces will give you a free 3-day pass to try these spaces for free.
Go on to try them, and see what next.