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Is Coworking for You?

June 16, 2014
By Danielle Weitlauf

Having the ability to work remotely from the comfort of your own couch and not worrying about anyone catching you in your fuzzy socks may sound like an ideal way to earn your living. It can be fun at first but you can quickly find yourself missing water cooler conversation or a reason to put on shoes.  Not to mention every day distractions such as laundry, dishes, family members or drop in visitors.

Faced with these downsides, many startup founders head for their local coffee shop as their “office away from home.” There is another option that may be for you.

Coworking is simply a shared work environment. Here are our top five reasons to consider coworking:

  1. Networking and Collaboration – Coworking spaces often bring together like-minded people who share interests and, possibly, experiences.  And they may just be potential clients, partners or referral sources as well.
  2. Resources – Many coworking spaces offer educational opportunities such as hackathons, meetup groups and coding classes. The coworking space becomes the hub for these groups.
  3. Amenities you couldn’t otherwise afford – Renting office space is costly when you consider that you’ll need to cover electricity, water and cleaning services as well as the space itself. It also binds you to a contract that might easily keep you in that space for a year or (more likely) three to five years. Coworking gives you the opportunity to be flexible, while still having the resources such as conference rooms, copy machines, printers and desk space that you’d have to provide on your own. Some even allow you to leave your things at a desk or have lockers for frequent users.
  4. Productivity – It takes a lot of discipline to work from home. You have to keep the television off, set ground rules with family and not get too comfortable working from your laptop on the couch (or in bed). It’s often recommended to set up a home office to avoid these pitfalls, but it’s still a challenge, particularly if family members are involved or living space is limited.  Coworking space allows you to focus on your work and be more productive.
  5. Meeting space – If you want to meet a potential client, a current client or a partner for a meeting, your dining room table isn’t going to cut it and the local coffee shop doesn’t offer any privacy.  Coworking spaces provide meeting rooms and often have technology such as LCD screens so you can pitch your big idea the right way.

There you have it. We’ve met a lot of great business people and helped grow many new companies through our coworking space here at Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Our newest venture, TEC Garage St. Petersburg, will include a brand new, large coworking space in downtown St. Petersburg. We’d like you to check it out when it opens later this year. If you’d like more information about our coworking space, contact our team at (727) 547-7340 or visit www.tecgarage.org.

Danielle Weitlauf is Business Partnership Director of Tampa Bay Innovation Center.  She can be reached at weitlaufd@tbinnovates.com.