The shared COMMUNITY Work place offers low start-up costs

by Tanisha Dunkley, Contributing Writer

Did you know that nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadian employees work from outside of their employer’s main offices? According to a survey conducted by Regus Canada in 2017, only 11 per cent of those employees work exclusively from home. This begs the question, from where are the other 36 per cent of employees doing their work?

Although it’s common to see a few eagle-eyed, coffee guzzlers sitting in front of laptops at the local Tim Horton’s or Star- bucks, there’s a new crop of remote work locations popping up across the Greater Toronto Area known as shared or co-working spaces. These new, on-demand work locations are part of an innovative shift towards the creation of collaborative workplace communities, the number of which has increased by 400 per cent globally in the past two years.

“The unique focus of shared workspaces goes far beyond having the use of an office or work desk, it’s about being part of an ecosystem of remote workers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, small business owners, freelancers and many others who are able to connect, collaborate and create together,” says Nida Akhter, owner of Spacebar Coworking in Mississauga. Akhter says it’s a workplace community where freelancers can test their ideas with small business owners, entrepreneurs can inspire corporate remote workers and start-ups can build a social network – all in one interactive space.

In addition to the work areas, amenities and inspiring aesthetics provided by her business, Akhter says her primary role as owner is to help nurture the connectedness of her client base and provide an environment that supports their success and productivity. “More than just providing a rental space for work purposes, I get to know who they are, what they do and how we can help them to make effective use of the space. My role is to create a friendly and welcoming environment so people feel comfortable and can easily engage with each other.”

The boutique style coworking space is outfitted with modern furnishings and eclectic, colourful decorative elements. It includes several shared and private offices, a meeting room, board room, a lounge area with library of reading materials, printing and administrative area and a well-stocked kitchen. The piece de resistance is the snacks/coffee station, serving as the proverbial water-cooler meet-up spot, featuring a dramatic statement wall embellished with hand-drawn symbolisms and statements.

Ahkter says the layout and aesthetic design of the workspace is a purposely progressive process involving her clients’ input.“The aesthetics matter to today’s remote workers. They want the space to be in- spiring and to help stimulate the thinking or creativity needed to do their work. We take all of this into consideration when we look to make enhancements to the space.”

For new business owner Jennifer Morris, President of Two Roads Logistics, an inspiring design is at the top of the list of criterions that she looks for when deciding on a shared workspace. She says other key features include: good community, networking opportunities, helpful staff and learning events. At her shared workspace location in downtown Toronto, she has 24/7 access to a private office, front reception staff, mail handling and access to other affiliated workspaces around the world, which she says provides tremendous flexibility and convenience in conducting business with international clients.

“I have noticed a positive mood and emotions from the design features of the Akhter says this information gathering process is also key in allowing her to develop client networking and social events such as lunch and learns and to make ongoing adjustments to the work- spaces to better cater to clients’ needs.

For a fee of $35, clients can obtain a day pass to Spacebar Coworking which provides 9AM – 5PM access including unlimited coffee and teas. It is opened 24 hours, 7 days a week and offers full timer, day timer, night timer, dedicated desker and private office memberships that range from $165 to $999 per month. 

The boutique style coworking space is outfitted with modern furnishings and eclectic, colourful decorative elements. It includes several shared and private offices, a meeting room, board room, a lounge area with library of reading ma- terials, printing and administrative area and a well-stocked kitchen. The piece de resistance is the snacks/coffee station, serving as the proverbial water-cooler meet-up spot, featuring a dramatic state- ment wall embellished with hand-drawn symbolisms and statements.

Ahkter says the layout and aesthetic design of the workspace is a purposely progressive process involving her clients’ input. “The aesthetics matter to today’s remote workers. They want the space to be inspiring and to help stimulate the thinking or creativity needed to do their work. We take all of this into consideration when we look to make enhancements to the space.”

For new business owner Jennifer Morris, President of Two Roads Logistics, an inspiring design is at the top of the list of criterions that she looks for when deciding on a shared workspace. She says other key features include: good community, networking opportunities, helpful staff and learning events. At her shared workspace location in downtown Toronto, she has 24/7 ac- cess to a private office, front reception staff, mail handling and access to other affiliated workspaces around the world, which she says provides tremendous flexibility and convenience in conducting business with international clients.

“I have noticed a positive mood and emotions from the design features of the workspace and the benefit of participating in learning and engagement opportunities with other users has provided increased human interaction, compared to working from home or renting a secluded office space.”

Through networking events she has met and acquired business from other shared workspace clients and says she appreciates the reduced overhead cost of operating her company from this type of work location.

“I love working in the shared workspace environment and I find it more interest- ing. Traditional workspaces have become complacent and therefore uninspiring and demotivating. The beauty of creative workspaces is they can be whatever you need; if you like to be social there are a lot of spaces where that is possible; need privacy, there are spaces for that too,” says Morris.

Tips To Find The Ideal Shared Workspace

Determine Whether A Shared Workspace Is Right For You

Consider the type of work you will be doing and how the environment will need to contribute to your productivity. Do you thrive on solitude and prefer to have your own space? Or do need people to bounce ideas off and enjoy engaging in conversation with others to receive feedback, new ideas and to make connections? Depending on your answers to these questions, you can make a list of your must-haves for your ideal workspace in order to begin your search. –

Ask Questions, Network & Get Out There!

There are a number of different options to find information about shared workspaces including online Google searches and check-ing social media to learn what others are saying about these work locations. Reach out to your circle of contacts and ask questions, you never what opportunities you’ll learn about during your conversations.

Once you have gathered a list of options, make a call to book a tour and get out there to see what they have to offer! A tour of the work- spaces will allow you to scope out the general location and surroundings of the properties. Ideally, you should be looking for a location that offers convenient access to the workspace for you and your clients, as well as a suitable social scene for drinks, dining and other entertainment.

Determine Your Budget & Research The Costs

The costs associated with a shared workspace can vary depending on your work needs and what you expect from the shared workspace. The needs of a small business owner who deals with clients on a regular basis may be more demanding than that of a freelancer who only requires part-time use of a space.

At Spacebar, for example, the variance of pricing depends largely

on clients’ frequency of use and whether they require access to a dedicated office desk or workspace. A full time membership costs $210 monthly and provides unlimited access to the space and use of any available desk area. Where as, a private office membership for $999 monthly provides the client with their own furnished private office suitable for 1 to 6 people.

A membership fee for a shared workspace will typically include fea- tures such as use of the common amenities and enjoyment of coffee, tea and other snacks, access to a lounge for casual meetings or to unwind, fully secure and monitored facility, Internet/Wi-Fi connection, mail handling, access to printing and faxing and customer service support.

Additional benefits that may be offered at an added cost include use or rental of a meeting room, access to exclusive events, workshops, seminars that are commonly hosted by shared workspaces to encourage community learning and engagement opportunities.