Communal Workspace by Leslie Varrelman

Coworking. It’s about the feel.

I never actually thought of co-working or for looking for a place to work outside my home office except maybe in one of the local coffee shops. I could go for a few hours and be surrounded by other people and maybe even catch some interesting tidbits of what was going on in the community from the people at the tables around me. Sometimes I’d even learn something from what I overheard.
Interestingly, I just finished a business plan for two very astute young women who were expanding upon their business, which included a small shared space, to now a co-working space which would be much larger and the first of its kind in the local community.
Doing a business plan involves identifying your target market, doing a competitive analysis, and coming up with an identity that not only defines what you are and what you do, but also what differentiates you from others in the same business.
Co-working spaces seem to be all the rage lately. Primarily because more and more people are working from home, whether running their own business from their home office or working for a company that doesn’t demand you be in the corporate office each day. Or you might just be on the road traveling for business and looking for a place in that town to work for the day.
There seems to be a flavor for everyone. There are large offices providing a more formal office environment. There are those that are quite casual and those that include cafes, pool tables, local craft beers, wine, and social events. There are drop in places and those that require a monthly membership. Most are for both men and women. The larger spaces are typically located in and around the major cities. There are smaller shared space options in smaller communities, and most recently, those dedicated specifically to women.
I found that what’s most important from the perspective of someone selecting a space to work, is finding the right fit for you. Are you looking for a place where you can have your own office or a shared office? Are you looking for more of an open space where you can come and go whatever days you chose to go? Do you want a place that has conference rooms or a private area to meet with clients? How about one that offers workshops and holds events? What amenities are you looking for? A coffee bar and kitchen? Showers? Is there free wifi included in your membership? What do you actually get for your monthly membership and how long is your contract? If you are a woman, do you want to work in a space that is specifically for women? Do you want the space to have people from different walks of life and different businesses or do you prefer those that are in businesses like your own? Is location important to you? Can you find parking or is it a walkable place. Is it safe?
Personally, it’s more of a feeling for me. I want to know who the owner/operators are and get a feel for the environment they are creating. How do I feel when I walk in the door? Am I comfortable and is there a warmth to the space? Since I can have privacy at home, I prefer to work in a communal area out in the open with good natural light and a good vibe (which comes from the owners). I want to work beside women who do something different than what I do. In other words, I don’t want to just be surrounded by finance types.
There’s going to be growth in this business and there’s room for many due to demand. Just do your homework, visit the space, get to know the owner/operator, ask questions, and picture yourself working from there. Maybe even check out an event or workshop that is being held there and see how you feel.

I know I found my space and I wasn’t even looking.


-Leslie Varrelman, a member at Top Knots Newburyport. 

Financial Advocate for women entrepreneurs in planning, funding, and growing their business. Consulting and guiding women in the financial aspects for starting and growing their business so they can focus on their signature strengths.



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