I am a member of Regus, an international coworking space. I am also a member of MOB, in Barcelona, The Battery, in San Francisco, and I have also been a member of WeWork, in New York City. Why would I be a member of multiple coworking spaces? Because, not all coworking spaces are created equal.
With Regus, I benefit from the global network, the ability to access airport lounges around the world as I travel, and I always have a professional spot to meet a client in every city I visit. In many ways, Regus is the perfect solution for an entrepreneur who needs an office.
However, while Regus has all these benefits, I argue that it’s still not enough to only have an international corporate coworking membership. A local coworking membership in your primary city, or one of your primary cities, is also essential. While Regus has global reach, they lack is a stable connection to the local culture in which their offices are located. They are clean, and sterile, which I think is the goal – they aren’t meant to be networking hubs, they are intended to be neutral and consistent. They achieve this goal admirably. But, when you are an entrepreneur working in what is often a cutting-edge business, it’s critical to be around a local, hands-on culture.
It’s critical to be around innovation and to make friends with people who are interested in engagement; interested in pushing boundaries; interested in making friends.
It’s important to be in an environment that encourages creativity and supports its members
With my MOB Membership in Barcelona, I surround myself with local entrepreneurs and innovators. While Barcelona is, of course, an international city, the feeling at MOB is much warmer than it’s global Regus network counterpart a few blocks away.
Here are a few things that I think you can look for when evaluating a coworking space that serves as good signs that they will deliver well on local culture, and the promise of being surrounded by innovative minds.
Classes and Other Events to Learn New Things
Do the space leaders go beyond their obligation to provide a space with desks, and high-speed internet, and take on the task of scheduling thought leaders and instructors to help the well being of their members? This extra effort means that they realize this is important to their members. What about member health? Do they have Yoga classes? This is a great sign as they recognize the importance of physical fitness and mental health for success in business.
A Maker Space
Do they offer access to additional equipment, like 3D printers, or a wood or welding shop? Perhaps they hold monthly classes, concerning creating new inventions? This kind of thought process at the core of the coworking business model means that it will likely be a place you will find adventurous business minds as well.
Fun Cultural Events
Do they build in fun themed events into the schedule? For example, at MOB there is a bring your own (and potentially trade a) ‘surprise sandwich day’. I could bring my sandwich to Regus, but I would be hard-pressed to find someone excited to trade with me and not think I was quite strange.
Do the people who own and operate the space make themselves known? Are they part of the space? Do they work there? This is a good sign that you are joining something that is a passion of someone else’s and that it will continue to grow and become better as the years pass.
So, while I know that this blog is being posted on the MOB website, I don’t mean it to necessarily be an endorsement of MOB as much as just a general observation of the quality of coworking spaces out there today. There are a lot of places that ‘pop up’ and I see people join. But, when I look at them, they are lacking the depth and culture that I feel are so important, and frankly, much of the real reason to join a local coworking space. I think it’s important people know the difference, and join a coworking space that has some culture to it.
Perhaps you know someone who has joined a local coworking space that is literally just a room with desks and nothing else ever going on. If so, send them a link to this article. There is a good chance that for the same price, or perhaps even less, they could be part of a community and have a coworking membership, instead of merely paying to sit in a room that happens to have a desk, a light, and high-speed internet. And, on the other side of the coin, if you are already a member of a fresh, culture-rich spot but, you travel a lot, consider an entry level Regus membership. It will get you access to a global network of places to work and meet potential clients. The two combined are the ideal coworking scenario.