Are you on the hunt for a new location for your nonprofit or business?3195-DSS-WelcomeEmail-HouseYourself-Icon-Final-08102015
As you prep your “wish list”, it’s always a good idea to start with the basics.

You know – number of work stations and offices you need, how much you can afford, where you need to be located . . . But there are a bunch of other factors that could significantly influence how well a new space fits your needs.

Especially if you are considering a coworking space as an option, pay attention to the following 12 things before making a final decision.

1. What is the Workplace Culture?

Ask the center manager about the culture of the coworking center.  Consider how your own organizational culture will fit in with the center’s style.  If you have staff members, ask them what they like about the “vibe” of your current location . . . and what they’d like to change. Consider the work style of your organization.  Do you need a lot of quiet, focused workspace?  How often do you need to meet and work together on projects?  Make sure that your workstyle and culture can fit in with that of the center you’re considering.

2. What Technology Is Available?

We are in an era of free and prevalent Wi-Fi.  When exploring your options for a new location, it’s a common assumption that internet will be included in your lease or membership.  Be sure to ask about internet access, costs associated with getting connected, and what speed is offered.  You might also want to consider how you and your team will have phone access, printing, and IT support.  Some centers offer packages that can streamline all of these technology needs.  Others may require you to take care of this on your own.

3. Storage v. Clutter

Ask about storage options!  As you start touring new locations, look around the new space.  Does it feel like everyone has a place for all their belongings?  Or are there piles of . . . stuff . . . on desks, in windowsills, sitting on floors?  Furthermore, when moving from a private office to an open workspace, we often forget how much crap we have.  As you prepare to move, take a hard look at all the things you’ll be bringing with you and weigh to what degree you can downsize.

4. Does the Space Have Proper Sound Masking?

How does the location you’re considering manage noise?  Have they implemented sound masking in the common and shared work spaces?  Can you hear conversations through the walls and ventilation?  (Believe me, it happens.) Be sure to pay attention to the noise level in each work area, and consider how you and your team will fare in that environment.

5. Are there Professional Development Opportunities?

When we talk to people about the benefits of working in  shared space, they often highlight the professional development opportunities.  Whether through formal programs offered by center management or informal connections to other professionals in the space, this is an oft overlooked benefit.  Ask about what formal and informal opportunities there are to grow your skills in this new center.  Check out some examples of tenant-led professional development in our Denver network of centers offered by the Posner Center then click on over to our very own list of trainings.

6. Does the Workspace Have An On-Boarding Process?

Make sure your new location is ready to welcome you.  While not every center has a formal orientation process, it’s a good idea to ask about how they on-board new members and tenants.  This will help you know how smooth the transition into the new space will be.

7. Is There Adequate Lighting?

For many people, lighting can make or break a workspace.  Consider what kind of lighting you prefer, and what helps you be most productive.  Also, pay attention to the amount of daylighting available in the space.  More daylighting can reduce the need for artificial lights . . . and drive down your electric bill!

8. Are There Opportunities for “Collisions” with Colleagues? 

As technology grows smaller and more mobile, workstations have followed suit.  Twenty years ago, the professional advice was to allocate 250 square feet per person.  Today, that number is down to around 100 square feet!  As you tour new locations, consider how many people work in each area and how flexible the workspace design is.  This may have implications for how comfortable you and your team are in the new location.  Density can also impact the culture and ambiance of a center.  We find that centers designed to prioritize density often have more interactive and collaborative workplace cultures.  People have more opportunities to run into each other because . . . well, they are closer together.  More “collisions” with colleagues in the space creates more opportunities to interact and build relationships.  And relationships are the best tool for creating collaborations.  Craving more information on density in your workspace?  This article covers a few trends.

9.  Does the Interior Art and Décor Match Your Organizations Style?

Does the center prioritize art on the walls of common areas?  Do you?  Many times, decorating the common areas falls to the bottom of a manager’s priority list.  For some people, this doesn’t matter.  And for others, it has a significant impact on how welcoming a space feels.  Pay attention to how the space is decorated, and make sure it’s a good fit with your preferences.  Also, if you are renting a private office, it’s a good idea to ask what limits there are on painting, hanging things on the walls, or otherwise personalizing your space.

10. What’s the Air Quality and Flow Like?

Not always on the top of the wish list, but poor air-quality can have a huge impact on productivity and comfort.  As you tour new locations, pay attention to this feature.  No one wants a smelly office space.  PRI has a cool audio on the topic you may want to give a listen to.

11. Does the Building Have the Accessibility Concerns?

I include this criteria in the broadest sense possible.  For starters, is the space ADA accessible?  Based on legal requirements, not all buildings or spaces within buildings are required to be accessible by people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.  Consider to what degree this is a priority for you.  In addition to being physically accessible, pay attention to signage and way-finding in the building.  Is it easy to find your way in the center?  Will your guests, customers, or clients be able to find their way upon entering?  Lastly, consider the degree to which you, your staff, and your constituents will feel comfortable in the center.  Does the aesthetic feel welcoming?  Do you see your culture, interests, or identity reflected in the way the center is designed or who are the members/tenants?

12. Has the Space Considered Access Times and Security?

Note the building hours and any limitations placed on member/tenant access to the space.  Make sure that you will be able to access the building in the ways and at the times you need for your business or organization.  Also, ask about security within the building and emergency management planning.  Center managers are facing increased pressure to balance public and community access to space with ensuring a level of security for their members.  Depending on your needs, you may need to consider how security processes could impact your work or use of the space.

Denver Shared Spaces offers support in navigating your coworking options and hosts a robust listing of available spaces.  Contact us for support at 720-639-5487 or send us an email.  You may also want to take a look at the Nonprofit Centers Network, 2015 State of the Shared Spaces Sector Survey.  The survey is packed with stats on shared spaces and the impact on organizations www.nonprofitcenters.org/sector.