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Co-working: Is it right for your company?

Posted by Devin Cole  February 9, 2012 05:12 PM

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Over the past couple years, I have successfully launched two companies and there’s another one coming in a few months. One of our key partners is WorkBar, a Boston co-working space. In general, I feel very bullish about the co-working models and the value they bring to a young firm like ours. WorkBar saves us money on office space while providing everything we could ask for in terms of a productive environment.

Different co-working spaces in Boston have a different feel and tailor to different types of companies. Given we are young and have a fairly informal culture, WorkBar’s laid back environment works really well for us. Many of my friends from MIT have had success working out of the Cambridge Innovation Center. Having spent much time hanging out there as well, it has a great tech/start-up vibe.

Why has co-working been the right move for us?

  • Cost savings and reduced administrative hassle: Instead of having to sign a lease and purchase a seemingly endless list of office equipment, WorkBar provides all of that for us: printer, scanner, fax machine, locker storage, etc. From an accounting standpoint, I prefer the OpEx approach. Our overhead is at least $1,000 a month lower from our use of a co-working space. The saved money goes back to our products which is reflected in their quality. Likewise, not having to manage Wi-Fi and stock snacks, saves us time and money.
  • Excellent collaborative working space: On any day, our team has a choice of where to collaborate. There are tall drafting tables, round tables, long communal benches, private conference rooms with projectors and whiteboards, individual desks, and even a cozy nook with a couch in back. We couldn’t afford these options in an office of our own.
  • Location, location, location: I feel Boston’s co-working spaces are very strategically located relative to the T. For instance, we selected WorkBar partially because it is located across the street from South Station, which makes for easy commutes for our employees on the Red Line (and me biking from the North End!). On our budget, usually we’d be looking at harder to reach places.
  • Employee perks: WorkBar hosts fantastic parties. They bring training in, many times for free, and sometimes get our employees to exclusive and sometimes very expensive programs. WorkBar members can always help themselves to coffee, Italian soda, snack pretzels, and draught beer(!). New co-working spaces increasingly offer programs, training and more. These are important contribution to our innovation ecosystem.
  • The office space “Cloud”: Upward Mobility requires us to hire experts in their field and work with them for a finite amount of time. Our latest company, Noyo, requires us to hire expert language editors, linguists, translators, and native voice talent and have them work locally. We also have interns and externs. On any given week, our staff can range from 3 to 10 people at WorkBar. The ability to handle our variable office space and collaboration needs without additional permanent overhead, and interference with our day-to-day processes is pivotal to the success of our business.
  • Co-working spaces are great environments for young staff: I retain three brilliant young staff members in Boston. The rest of our permanent staff is virtual. WorkBar provides an ideal environment for our core locals—the social, interactive atmosphere allows them to learn from other members, and keeps them from being isolated. Need proof that employees prefer co-working? When offered the chance to move to a private office, our staff voted unanimously to stay at WorkBar.

While we use WorkBar, there are a number of good co-working spaces in Boston, including the Cambridge Innovation Center, Dogpatch Labs, Space with a Soul, Intrepid Labs, EnCandle, Oficio and Headquarters.

Ted Chan is Founder and CEO of Upward Moblity and Noyo, two companies in the mobile education market, and a management consultant in telecom, media, and technology at Boston-based CSMG. Twitter: @upwardmobility

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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