(Hat tip to mdanys for the photo of a real-life hub in action)
The trend of working from home is strong with freelancers and entrepreneurs who want to save on overhead costs. Many of these workers stray to local coffee shops for a change in scenery to increase productivity.
In 2005, hubs offered home workers an alternative to the coffee shop scene. Since then, hubs have opened in hundreds of cities.
Coworking is the term given to the shared working environment in a hub. Different businesses and business owners sit side by side for their work day.
To know if coworking can help your business, it’s important to understand what a hub space is and what it offers to an entrepreneur or freelancer.
The goal of coworking
The mission is to offer home workers and startups a place to work that will not only save costs for new or small businesses, but also encourage collaboration and networking with other business owners and mentors.
The space holds desks, meeting rooms, work tables. Beyond wi-fi, different hubs will have various additional perks. Some have the coffee, others childcare. Most host workshops and networking events too.
How much will it cost?
The fees for a membership at a hub differ greatly from space to space depending on your needs. Some allow individual workers free space, but many have monthly or yearly fees.
For London, a directory lists available venues with their features and costs. For example, one coworking space lists its fees as such:
Drop-in membership @ £500 per year w/ £100 joining fee
Hot-desk @ £300 per month
Fixed desk @ £500 per month
Office, inside @ £1,200 per month
Office, with a view @ £1,400 per month
The network at a hub
A coffee shop is a great environment to work in, but can come with distractions and hardly guarantees the company of like-minded individuals. The collective goal of those sharing the hub space is business.
A network of hubs is strewn across five continents. Other clubs and spaces are their own startups. Some are attached to corporations with built-in business mentors adjacent to the space.
The host of each space plans events and workshops and matches workers who could collaborate.
You can meet seasoned business owners, start-up teams, entrepreneurs and freelancers. For home workers, coworking is a built-in opportunity to network.
The big question
Are these hubs a worthwhile venture? Will coworking make it? The number of open hubs and spaces serve as a testament to their popularity .
A shared work space might be uncomfortable for business calls or the setup of some clubs might not give enough privacy for your work.
In the end, coworking offers big benefits for freelancers and entrepreneurs. It can be a wonderful home for startups and collaborations. The nature of your business and your personal needs for a work space will determine if coworking is right for you.