My first article since I reestablished my blog is going to be about what I consider to be one of the best innovations to come along as a result of the mobile workforce/work where you feel inspired/soloprenuer/startup workplace revolution, affordable CoWork spaces. Tired of going to your local Starbucks or other coffee shop or restaurant and finding all the choice locations taken, and sitting in uncomfortable chairs in a busy noisy retail atmosphere? Meeting potential and current clients in similar locations does not present your most professional image and anyone seated close to you can hear your entire conversation or presentation. Cowork allows you to present a more professional image. I visited four cowork options in my hometown, Houston, time constraints prevented me from visiting them all. All offered different amenities and were in different parts of the fourth largest city in the U.S., and home of the Astros, 2017 World Series champs! Click on the Read more button below
The first thing that needs clarifying is what is a cowork space? In general a cowork space is a location you can drop in to during the work week, get a cup of coffee or nuke some lunch, sit in a comfortable chair at a table with plenty of room and electrical connections, connect to wifi and get some work done. Most will allow you to meet clients in the cowork space, and should you need it, you can use a “day office” usually for an hourly fee. Often the same location will offer shared spaces and individual offices. The four different companies I visited each had different visions of cowork. My number one reason for needing a cowork space is to get out of my home office and be around the energy of other small business owners and soloprenuers. The companies I visited were: Station Houston, in downtown Houston, Regus, multiple locations, Growthli, located in Regency Square, and TechSpace, located in Westchase.
The first space I visited was Station Houston. The space was beautiful and inspiring. Station offers not only an open spaces for coworkers but private offices and open startup incubator space. The interior is high tech and the vibe is this is a place to get serious. There are little, quiet, comfortable seating areas throughout. Meeting spaces with all connections are also available. Station partners with several major companies that offer funding, mentors, education, bootcamps, community driven meetups, and hackathons to startups. The staff were helpful and courteous. I was sold the minute I walked in and met the staff. I really like this space but the cost of downtown parking in addition to the monthly membership put it outside my small budget, otherwise I would definitely have signed up. Downtown is actually a close location for me.
For years I have been a Regus Businessworld member. Businessworld is by far the least expensive option available. Regus does offer shared “cowork” offices but the price differential is significant and the spaces I saw were not on a par with other spaces for less. You can however bring your own printer, you have an assigned permanent desk, you are provided with a phone and answering and you get a key to the door to the cowork space and after hours access, which changes the game a bit. Regus Businessworld membership provides wifi and at additional charge printing, faxing etc. The biggest advantage of Businessworld membership is if you travel, around your city, the U.S., or internationally, Regus has a location near you almost anywhere you are. So if you move around your city, visiting clients or making sales calls, there will be a place nearby to drop in to and get some work done between appointments. Having said this my one caution would be that the Business Lounge definition varies from location to location. Some locations have large, comfortable lounges with Thinkpods, a Thinkpod is basically the worlds smallest, self contained cubicle. Other locations simply offer a table with electrical outlets in their kitchen area which can be noisy and distracting. On the subject of kitchens Regus offers free gourmet coffee and tea, silverware, cups, glasses, refrigerator, ice machine and coke machine. Great kitchen/lunchroom facilities at all locations I visited. The staff at every location I visited was courteous and helpful with the exception of one location in Sugarland. But this was an exception, maybe they were having a bad day. There are two locations in Houston that are in buildings that do not charge for parking. Needless to say they were the locations I most often visited. The staff at both these locations are outstanding. Woodway was my favorite location because of amenities and the space was large, comfortable and usually quiet. Bellaire is close to my home office but the Thinkpods were in the main lobby by the kitchen and therefore it could get noisy. But for the budget conscious or anyone who travels Businessworld is a bargain.
Growthli is a home grown option in Houston. The owner, Joshua Webb, lives and works in Houston. Joshua Webb’s vision is for Growthli to be an education resource for small businesses as well as a workplace. He also has contacts and business associates in larger businesses that he can connect with his leasee’s and members. Growthli offers open cowork space and shared offices as well as private office space. Growthli also offers workshop and meeting space. Growthli has been featured in an article in the Huffington Post and featured on Business Innovators Network Radio. Think of Growthli as both a workspace and a coaching/education resource. Growthli’s motto is “create communities not kings.” I liked the space and the owner I met with, Joshua Webb but Growthli is locationally challenging for me. If you live in or frequent the Regency Square area and are interested in receiving coaching and on going education and mentoring, Growthli could be an excellent choice for you.
TechSpace has locations in Houston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and Arlington Virginia. The space has a very high tech vibe that is very conducive to focusing and working. Companies begin at TechSpace grow and add employees without ever having to change locations. I took advantage of a free coworking day and joined that day. I particularly liked that if you join with a coworking membership there are several places you can work in different parts of the building including an outdoor patio. I am someone who likes to move around in search of inspiration and to relieve frustrations. TechSpace also has comfortable seating areas/lounges on the first floor. One in the front lobby and one at the exit to the outdoor patio. There is also a seating area with coffee tables on the second floor. There is an excellent cafe with outdoor and indoor seating located across the outdoor walkway from TechSpace as well as a kitchen area on both floors. Robert Spoden, Site Manager, and Leena Mena, Member Services Coordinator, were definitely a part of the reason I decided to become a member. The most important factors, for me, in choosing a cowork space were:
- the overall vibe of the space
- the ability to occasionally meet clients in a comfortable professional environment.
When choosing a cowork space decide what factors are most important to you. Visit the space. Do not ignore your first impression vibe. You will be working in this space several times a week or month. The attitude of the staff is important because these are the people you will interface with if you have questions or issues after you join. If you need a professional space to occasionally meet clients choose a cowork option that provides seating areas with comfortable couches, chairs and tables for sitting laptops and materials on, or a space that offers day offices. Hope this article was useful!