Why Every Solopreneur Should Try Coworking Spaces
For years I enjoyed the fact I worked at home. I never had to do the daily grind of the commute many of my friends and family frequently complained about.
The few times I had contracting work in the city of London I would enjoy the commute for a while as it was a break from stay at home routine. A big plus was also that I often dictated my own hours and could commute after the busy hours.
With more people moving to a digital working life the need to go into work for many of us has reduced.
When sat in a trendy coffee shop seeing people typing furiously on laptops it’s difficult to know if they are updating their social profiles or joined the growing ranks of digital nomads.
The last six months I have spent a lot more time working online and wasn’t comfortable both physically and mentally working out of coffee shops.
So, I explored other options for working away from home.
What are Coworking Spaces?
The days of having to sign long office or annual serviced leases are gone.
Most solopreneurs and self-employed people don’t want to commit to long leases due to cost and the corporate environment is what many of us are trying to avoid, at all costs. (I have managed to do it for 20-years now working online).
Co-working spaces are designed for self-employed individuals, or those working remote from a larger team, and want access to services that may not be available at home.
The number of co-working spaces have shot up in recent years as the demand for fully serviced offices on a more flexible basis has grown. Mostly thanks to the growth of the digital entrepreneur scene.
On a recent trip to Chiang Mai I was blown away by the number of digital nomads based there, way more since my time in 2004 when I lived there for a time.
There are now co-working spaces in most cities, and in many you have a considerable choice. There are now websites that can even compare different co-working spaces – https://www.coworker.com/. So, you can find one that most suit your needs and feel.
I have used a few co-working spaces in Thailand using day passes, which are a great way to test out a place before committing.
Benefits of Coworking Spaces Over Working at Home
For me, I enjoy being sociable and being cooped up at home day and night is too much. Some days it’s great though and I thrive on little social contact, this is because I am very much an ambivert.
Like most things in life, it’s all about balance.
So, signing up to a co-working space can give you the best of both worlds. You avoid what can be a solitary life style of home-based working and have a professional environment to be truly productive.
The 5 Reasons I like Coworking Spaces:
- Meeting like-minded people and making new friends – Meet some interesting people since co-working, especially useful if an expat
- Better coffee and food options – I have really got into dirty chai latte’s and this is something I would never make at home!
- Better work and home life balance – Good way to separate work life and time with the family
- Free events – Monthly and sometimes weekly events on business
- More productive – more likely to work than sit there checking out Netflix, or in more case thinking of heading down to the pool
- Access to professional meeting rooms – A great way to meet new clients or joint-venture partners
Introducing Common Ground Coworking
Whilst out shopping at a local market the other day I stumbled across a brand new co-working space and checked it out.
It’s impressive with not so much a corporate feel, as the likes of say Regus, but is more open plan and has a trendy start-up feel to it.
There is an onsite café that does a great Avocado (Avo), egg and toast. Also have got into their dirty chai latte too!
There are three options available at Common Ground; hot desk, fixed desk and private offices.
- Hot Desk – This is desk space out in the lobby area of the Common Ground space and is on a first-come, first served basis in terms of desk space. You have the fast internet access but could be sat in a different seat each time you visit.
- Fixed Desk – Here you pay for one desk that you can occupy on a permanent basis and can leave you monitor or other stuff on the desk. No one else can use it and allocated to you. It’s less private than a designated office but means you can use the Common Ground facilities 24/7
- Private Office – if you have two or more staff then the private office is the only sensible option, but this also works if you want a little more security and privacy. A friend of mine signed up for a private office although he works on his own because he has a couple of monitors and expensive camera equipment. This option works perfectly for him.
What Option Did I Choose at Common Ground?
Initially I thought the hot-desk option would work for me, but this felt very similar to working in a coffee shop. The private office seemed a bit too much for me as I work alone and with a laptop, and so I couldn’t’ justify the additional cost.
So, I went for the fixed desk as this seemed the best option.
I have access 24/7, it’s more secure than hot desking plus I have 6 hours of meeting room access per month and printing as part of my membership.
And if you need somewhere safe to store your belongings you get yourself a locker too.
What are costs of Common Ground Coworking Spaces?
The hot desks work out to be RM499 ($120 USD) per month and whilst this is not expensive for a little bit more you can get a fixed desk. For a fixed desk the cost is around RM699 ($110 USD) per month and means you can access the facilities 24/7 and have meeting room and printing within the price.
Private offices vary from around RM895 ($220USD) per person but considering these typically are two-person offices then the costs are really around RM1800 ($440 USD) minimum per office. Whilst this is still really good and certainly cheaper than other serviced companies, I felt this was above and beyond what I need for the time being.
The minimum contract period for fixed desks and private offices are 3 months but if you’re looking for short term then hot desking is only one-month.
Why I Really Like about Common Ground?
I have used a few serviced office spaces before, one in London called Citibase and Regus in Malaysia. Both had great people working there and were super helpful, but the companies always felt like they tried to squeeze everyone pound (or ringgit) out of you.
One big tip here, if you’re ever thinking of renting a serviced office – ALWAYS read the small print. There are typically additional fees and even after your contract is finished something that I called an “exit tax”, which is basically the company charging for “repainting” your unit.
In my experience rarely is the office repainted but is a way of getting more money out of you!
So, Common Ground so far feels very different. They make you feel like a member for starters.
Unlike many serviced offices, you get a number of hours of the meeting room free each month. They also give you a printing allocation, from memory I think I get 100 prints per month.
Most companies would find the meeting room and printing allowance sufficient. And if you go over then you have to pay extra for these, which is fair enough.
The main thing I like is how friendly and trendy the places look. I mean just check out the Common Ground Bukit Bintang (Menara Worldwide) co-working space in Kuala Lumpur – amazing!
Access to Common Ground Worldwide
The other big plus is the ability to work in ANY of the Common Ground co-working spaces and not just the one you signed up in.
So, although I am not based in the Bukit Bintang coworking space, I enjoyed a week working from there last month. It was a lot more enjoyable working from Common Ground in Kuala Lumpur than my Airbnb or a different coffee shop each day.
I also got to meet to some interesting guys who use the co-working space in Kuala Lumpur
Before the amazing girls and guys at the Common Ground I work at get despondent, I think where I am based in awesome too.
There is a great vibe and it’s an enjoyable place to work from.
The only downside, and it’s an issue with almost every shopping mall, office and cinema in Asia – please turn up the heating!
Check-out Common Ground
So, if you’re fed up with working in coffee shops all day long and want somewhere cool to hang out with like-minded people, then I would recommend Common Ground coworking.
The price is affordable, and they make you feel like a member of a club.
They regularly run events too and it’s a great way to network with other people who could be doing wonderful things like you too!
My productivity and work output has significantly increased and I get to socialise with like-minded people who life in my home town too.
See if there are any coworking office spaces near you and if in Malaysia, Philippines or Thailand I recommend checking out https://commonground.work/.