Where do micro businesses work? For me it’s desk in the spare room of my bungalow here in Telford. I’ve been pretty lucky over the years to have always had a separate room to work out of. For many micro businesses of course, this is often a luxury, with the kitchen table and the ubiquitous coffee shop serving as a makeshift office.
The rise of mobile digital technologies has enabled micro business owners to run their enterprises from virtually any location that has a decent connection to the Internet. However, what many business owners find is that where they work can have a massive impact on their businesses in many ways.
Share your space
Co-working spaces have existed for several years but have recently seen a surge in popularity. Steve Upham, community manager, altspace commented:
“Coworking spaces can offer flexibility and support to start – up businesses by offering rolling monthly contracts and affordable no -nonsense rates. Serviced offices have historically offered poor value with unnecessary paperwork and contracts which has hindered companies to grow and show ambition.”
Steve continued: “The coworking model offers a variety of services from a daily hot desk to a private office in a collaborative environment going the business owner options as they reach scale. Here at altspace we have an amazing community of workers and we support each other through decisions ranging from the status of your business through to finding a reliable local printing firm. Traditional serviced offices do not offer these levels of interaction or cross pollination.”
Whether you want to work at home, on the move or in a co-working space, the fact you have many options is ideal for micro businesses. Using the working space you need, when you need it, is part of the agility that all micro businesses possesses. Whether you consider yourself a digital nomad or, feel that being part of the community in a co-working space is beneficial to you, look for a place to work that is comfortable as well as affordable.
I also spoke with Lisa Targett, General Manager UK, TRIBE (a self-serve tech platform which enables advertisers to connect with micro-influencers) and began by asking Lisa whether micro businesses really need a traditional office space?
“The appeal of a co-working space has multiple returns for any emerging business,” said Lisa. “Not only does it hand you the flexibility as you scale (size of office space, timing & support with resources/utilities), but it also hands you a network of like-minded businesses that may want to hear about or use your services. When TRIBE launched in the UK, we partnered with Bumble in the early months just from knowing they were neighbours in our offices in WeWork in Soho. Money can’t buy opportunities like that when you’re getting off the ground, without the sales resource or marketing collateral.”
Are co-working spaces the serviced offices for the new generation of start-up business owners?
“Economics-wise, you are improving your fixed cost base and instead allowing flexibility in variable costs, which helps any business in its early stage prepare for unknowns along the way. Beyond that, small businesses are focused on the task at hand – often small teams working double time to get the initial business off the ground and culture can often be an after-thought.
“WeWork builds-in the fundamentals of a happy work environment, even when new businesses are in their chaotic early stages – i.e. free quality coffee, complimentary alcohol for either team social events and client meetings. Working in the media industry, our key clients are used to being wined & dined by mammoth media owners – we can’t compete. I was blown away by the number of our clients who actually wanted to come into WeWork, get involved in the community social events (like hosted pub quizzes) or work from the beautiful space.”
What’s your key advice for SMEs when deciding whether they need office space, and what kind of office space to choose?
“Price, flexibility in contract and community are really important – but a lot of people don’t think about the incidentals like entertainment expenses, staff perks, wellness, community, IT support etc. which WeWork provides in spades. WeWork also provides free event space for you to host product launches, talks etc. which is another vital sales & communication tool for any launching business.”
Has technology been a key driver behind the evolution of office spaces especially for small businesses?
“For our business, as we scale both within markets and into new markets, WeWork is a critical piece of the puzzle as they allow us fluidly scale with consistent culture and resource. When we’re doing market-analysis on new territories for us to enter, whether or not a WeWork type office exists is often a deciding factor.”
No need for a desk?
For me my desk defines when I am working in my micro business. My desk can be in a co-working space if this is needed, or at home. For many the ability to hot-desk when they need this kind of space is ideal and suits their working style. For others, a desk space that they can call their own and personalise is a vital component of running their micro business.
Wherever you work, the important factor is always that it is a space that meets your needs and requirements. As no two micro businesses or their owners are the same, flexibility and agility have become bywords for what it means to be a micro business owner today.
The rise of the co-working space is testament to the changes that have taken place with work, but also how and where businesses are operated from. Today business nomads are the norm having embraced the technologies that enable them to work anywhere.
However, a working space you can call your own, or a desk that defines your approach to business is still tangible evidence that when it comes to the working space we are comfortable with, choice is now available to all.