For anyone who has ever wondered about the cost benefits of coworking versus setting up your own office, let me set it out for you.
Start by considering the time you’ll spend searching for a premises which ticks your boxes. With a noticeable trend of commercial real estate listings not including prices, you can spend hours just gathering the comparable information.
Then comes the establishment expenses for your bricks and mortar office:
- Commercial lease agreement, advance rent and bond (usually three months)
- Electricity connection
- Internet and arranging NBN connection
Cleaning is always good form before moving in. There may be hidden faults and flaws not found at inspection or listed in the lease agreement. These should be revealed by a thorough top-to-bottom clean.
Set up costs
Next, we’ll presume the premises is fit-for-purpose and doesn’t need any major works undertaken before you move in. It’s time to go shopping for furniture and equipment starting with your desk and ergonomic chair. Your list probably includes at least some of the following:
- desk drawer units, shelves and filing cabinets;
- desk converters or sit/stand options;
- computer monitors, keyboard and mouse combos;
- whiteboards, pinboard, projectors;
- laminator, shredder, and maybe a guillotine and binding machine;
- tables and chairs, display furniture, shelves and cabinets, visitor chairs or couches.
Excellent! Your office is fitted out and ready to organise those boxes of stationery you also picked up on your shopping trip.
I hope you didn’t forget to include:
- Kitchen facilities which usually include fridge, microwave, kettle, toaster, coffee maker plus tea, coffee, milk and sugar supplies.
- Bathroom supplies – toilet paper, hand towels and hand wash at a minimum
- Aesthetics and ambience such as plants, lighting, decoration. The touches which make it a pleasure to walk in the door.
Awesome! You’re ready to work!! Now you just need to allocate time for:
- Regular cleaning of building, facilities and work surfaces;
- Tracking supply levels for stationery and copy paper, kitchen and bathroom;
- Monitoring for repairs and maintenance needs; and
- Paying those pesky recurring costs like electricity, internet, rent and insurance.
You could use a coworking space or shared office as your workplace. Everything listed above is already taken care of. Your only task is to choose your membership plan, or pay as you go, or even negotiate an agreement specific to your business needs.
But wait! There’s more!
Next, let’s factor in the intangible benefits of coworking which feed into cost benefits.
The simple act of getting dressed for work can improve productivity for those working from home. Imagine how great an increase you’ll find when you are working alongside others. Productivity is catching!
No, I’m not speaking of active networking we find at gatherings of business people. I’m referring casual conversations leading you to a much-needed specialist who sits two desks over, or the roadblock being overcome thanks to brainstorming while waiting for coffee to brew. The social is just as important as the professional.
Stepping out of your everyday stimulates the brain. Huge whiteboards offer space to mind-map ideas. Teams can gather to work through project.
And for my final trick!
Let’s look at the additional time and cost savings for businesses using coworking spaces for their employees.
- Productive hours lost to travel. The average casual coworking rate is $35/day. This is recouped the moment an employee has spent more than an hour travelling due to location of office;
- Productive hours lost to distractions of home office or public free workspaces (ie, library and cafes);
- Productive days lost due to the negative impact of isolation to employee mental health. A day or two each week to supplement the home office is an effective means to reduce feelings of isolation.
- Hire of meeting room for client engagement. The average cost of a meeting room is $30/hour for a small room (4 people) up to $70/hour for a larger room (8 people).
Need to see an equation?
An office space in The CoWork Space is $175/week.
This is a 9 sqm space that is 100% yours with access to shared resources and common spaces. It includes the following direct savings inclusions:
- $10.00 100 B&W prints per week
- $40.00 Two hours meeting room per week ($20/hr)
- $22.50 Unlimited tea/coffee but we’ll allow one barista coffee/day for $4.50
- $60.00 Weekly cleaning, maintaining supplies, office management
- priceless Being part of a great community
Even before COVID, the benefits were there for larger businesses who:
- operated from a central head office;
- relied on strong face-to-face client engagements across an extended territory;
- wanted to reduce lost time spent driving or commuting;
- valued their employees, whether they are working from home or making long commutes.
Coworking is a valid alternative to consider when you want a dedicated office. With more spaces popping up in regional communities, it is smart business to look through the cost benefits of coworking before signing on the dotted line. It is certainly easy (and affordable) enough to try the available coworking spaces as part of your research.
There is nothing to lose but opportunity.