Swift advancement in communication technology in the 21st century has made it possible for geographically disintegrated employees in any particular organisation to work together by operating out of remote locations. As a result, traditional office spaces are fast being abandoned by large private companies that are opting for community working or co-working spaces.
As per a report published earlier this year, co-working operators had leased out nearly 2.9 million sq ft of area between January and March. The increase in leased-out area as compared to the same quarter in the previous year was a whopping four times. Though co-working spaces are economically viable for firms, a number of parameters need to be factored in before zeroing in on the right shared workplace.
Understand your company’s requirements
The most important factor in deciding upon a co-working space is the requirement of your own company. The culture of co-working space vis-à-vis the business module of your company must be properly analysed before deciding upon a workplace. For example, if your company is into the business of content development, it will make little sense to pitch your employees into a co-working space that is largely occupied by back-office tele-callers. Your office requirements like photocopier machines, printers, Internet and Wi-fi connections, paper binders, UPS backups, Internet telephony, free space and meeting rooms are some of the basics to be considered in terms of facilities before hiring out a co-working space.
Choose the right location
The biggest advantage of a co-working office space is the fact that it saves up on several hours of commuting time for employers, employees and clients alike. In a city like Bengaluru, that is perpetually marred by traffic jams, hours saved by cutting down on commuting would mean extra productivity and more revenues. Therefore, the right location of a co-working space should be considered from the point of view of proximity for customers, clients and employees alike. A landmark location, in a certain part of the city which is in close proximity to the business district, will add value to your company. The location should preferably be near to all modes of transport like airport, metro stations, railway stations and bus terminals for your business to thrive.
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Quality of services
To minimize costs, a number of co-working spaces make compromises on quality of maintenance, cleanliness and basic services like availability of food and beverages. It is crucial for you to understand that these basic services are of utmost importance in providing employee satisfaction and enhancing the image of your firm as an employee-friendly organisation. Quality of services including maintenance, cleanliness, basic office hygiene, and customer services should be considered as premium factors while deciding on a co-working space. Provision of power back-up systems and parking spaces for employees’ vehicles are other basic services that need to be considered in metro cities before hiring out a co-working space.
No hidden costs
Before leasing out a co-working space for your firm’s office, you need to consider with full attention about different costs that will be charged upon you in terms of rent and services. The charges for each particular service – whether inclusive or exclusive of taxes – should be clearly mentioned in the legal agreement entered into with the lessor. This is to ensure that there are no extra or hidden costs at the time of billing. There should not be any extra cost in terms of Internet services, office maintenance, storage costs, printing costs, pantry services, meeting room charges, telephone charges or security costs. Your firm can stand to gain in opting for a co-working space only if a proper cost-benefit analysis is made prior to leasing out an office.
The agreement entered into for hiring a co-working space should be broad and contain all terms and conditions that are likely to be a bone of contention between lessor and lessee at the time of settling bills. Terms for renewal of contract and termination conditions should be properly mentioned. Mode of rent payment and responsibilities binding upon both parties should be clearly laid out. Other aspects to be considered while entering into a legal agreement are insurance policy, confidentiality, security and safety. It should be ensured that the city for adjudication of disputes, if any that arises between the lessor and the lessee in the future, should be one that is convenient to both parties.
(By Abhay Chawla, Founding Partner, India Accelerator)