Coworking spaces, which didn’t exist in Singapore a few years ago, are now sprouting up like mushrooms. And they’re not just for hipster startup founders either. A slew of atas coworking spaces has recently opened, and there’s even one with child-minding facilities for mumpreneurs.
The thing is, signing up to a coworking space is going to cost money, and if you’re a solopreneur, that extra $300 to $500++ is going to eat directly into your profit margin.
With the wide range of coworking spaces on offer, there are also more factors to consider when trying to decide if a particular coworking space is going to serve your needs, or whether working there is going to make your work feel like a grind.
Here are five factors to consider before you introduce yourself as a coworking space’s latest member.
1. Is the location convenient?
As a freelancer or business owner, one of the biggest perks you enjoy is not having to face a long, grinding commute to the office every morning along with millions of other dour-faced workers.
So don’t pick a coworking space that is so far from your home you waste hours travelling each day. In particular, if you’re the sort who likes to start work at 9am, you want to avoid picking a location that will put you in peak hour traffic. Apparently, about 1/5 of coworking spaces are now located in the CBD.
On the other hand, there are some good reasons you might want to be based in a central location, such as if you have to regularly meet clients located in the city, especially those in a more corporate setting, such as bank employees.
At present, there are coworking spaces in the Lavender, Little India, One North and Eunos areas, so pick one that’s convenient for you.
2. What are the subscription packages and operating hours like?
No matter how perfect a coworking space is, if their subscription packages don’t meet your needs, it’s pointless to sign up.
Many but not all coworking spaces offer day passes in addition to part-time and full-time packages. Some coworking spaces like The Hive also offer office space, which is great for start-ups who aren’t ready to commit to renting an actual office yet.
13 Open House even offers a co-living option, which means you can basically move into the space. This can be a good option for those without family in Singapore who would need to rent a space either way, or Singaporeans who are looking for an affordable way to move out. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a desk there, you’ll have to commit to a subscription of at least 6 months.
The operating hours of coworking spaces can differ too. Most offer full-time members 24 hour access, but if you’re on a part-time subscription or day pass, you’ll want to make sure the opening hours suit your schedule.
For instance, The Co. offers 24 hour access to all members except those on a day pass, who can only use the space from 9am to 6pm.
3. Is this the kind of community you want to be around?
This is probably going to be the biggest factor influencing coworking members’ decision. After all, the main reason so many are willing to pay for a workspace when they could work from home is simply because they get some much-needed human interaction. But you need to be clear about what kinds of humans you want to interact with.
For instance, Trehaus, one of the main draws of which is its on-site childcare facility, is clearly targeted at mumpreneurs.
Makespace appeals more to those working in tech or early-stage startups, and offers opportunities to collaborate or bounce ideas off other members.
The Great Room, on the other hand, is a lot more upmarket and the vibe more professional. Many of their members are already established entrepreneurs.
4. Are the subscription packages within your budget?
No money, no talk. The subscription fees of coworking spaces can vary quite dramatically, so your decision will largely depend on how much you are willing to spend.
For instance, at hackerspace.sg, regular members pay $128 a month for 24-8 access and hotdesking. On the other hand, the much more atas The Working Capitol charges $425 per month for a 24/7 workspot.
5. Are there any other perks?
Joining a coworking space isn’t just about securing yourself a quiet desk and wifi. If that’s all you wanted, you could just go to one of the National Library branches or Starbucks.
Other than the community, you want to check if there are events and other perks that can make it more worthwhile to become a member. Some coworking spaces are strictly places where you can rent an office to work, while others have more of a community feel.
For instance, at all-girl coworking space Woolf Works, there are numerous workshops—right now they’re doing cyclic meditation, method acting and exercise sessions, as well as numerous lean-in circles where members lend each other support and have facilitated discussions.
At The Hive, there are weekly socials as well as other events like movie nights, quiz nights and lunches.
Joining a coworking space is a bit like joining a country club, without the snobbery and polo shirts. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there, so choose with care.
Have you ever tried a local coworking space? Share your experiences in the comments!