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The city may be known for its global businesses, but London’s reputation makes it a desirable location for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Coworking spaces make it possible for small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and many more to enjoy the prestige of the UK’s capital, without the cost or commitment of renting an office. We got in touch with businesspeople and coworking experts to talk about why coworking is becoming such a big part of working life in London.

Coworking spaces appeal to a wide range of workers, which is a big factor in their success in London and across the world. They work very well for people working remotely, especially those who regularly travel to different locations, and for small businesses and startups who want to establish a presence in the capital.

The guest post is written by David Weiner. He is an entrepreneur and director of Company Address.

Deskmag’s survey revealed that 26% of coworkers have their membership paid for by their employers. This suggests that a significant portion of coworking members are there as part of a larger business.

Of course, they also appeal to lone entrepreneurs: those just starting out their next business journey. Ann Wright, entrepreneur and co-founder of RoughHouse Media, moved into a coworking space when her business outgrew her home. She said:

“The alternative would have been to rent an office on my own, which would have been very isolating; this way, I have ‘colleagues’ [...] which helps to make me more productive and creative.”

ProFoundry’s owner, Col Skinner, shared similar thoughts, saying:

“I personally have never worked from home [...] For me, it was really important to continue having people around me as I worked, just like my agency role.”

With 15% of coworking spaces also featuring an ‘artist space’, it is fair to assume that they are a draw for creatives, as well as those focused on business. In a city as diverse as London, it is no surprise that coworking spaces would serve a variety of people and needs, but there are some common benefits that give these spaces their broad appeal.

Flexibility for the short term and the long term

The high risk of starting a business and the high rent of London offices don’t sit well together, as Kate Tattershall of Search Office Space explains:

“Desks in a coworking office start from as little as one month, which is attractive to startups and SMEs not wanting to commit to a long term lease.”

An important attribute of coworking spaces is that they offer the facilities of a modern London office, without the cost and the commitment. An entrepreneur working in a risky startup can reap the benefits of a London location, but should anything go wrong, they would not be tied to an expensive lease.

Coworking spaces also offer longer term flexibility that would appeal to a variety of London workers, even those in more stable businesses. For those using the spaces on a long term bases, either as a central location for their business or as remote workers, coworking spaces have a lot to offer, as Tattershall says:

“Many coworking providers offer a membership, allowing occupiers to use different locations and utilise discounts on brands and things like gym memberships.”

In many ways, the flexibility of coworking spaces helps workers keep their stress levels low in a city known for its frenetic pace of life.

A healthy working environment

Another key benefit of London’s coworking spaces is the chance for collaboration and community that many smaller companies lose in isolated offices. Deskmag’s survey indicated that 71% of coworking members collaborated with other members at some point, with most partnering on small tasks, but sometimes for projects, both with and without contracts.

Aside from the natural social environment, many coworking spaces in London provide organised events for their members. Kate Tattershall commented:

“Many coworking spaces hold in-house networking events which open up opportunities for collaboration, skills sharing and the potential to expand your client base.”

These kinds of events create an environment in which the sharing of knowledge is actively encouraged, which can be an excellent source of ideas for everyone, from new entrepreneurs, to established employees working remotely for a larger company.

London is a base for many remote workers, and Caroline Lang of NOMAD Space identifies how coworking spaces can serve this market in particular. She explained that the risk of burnout is high for remote workers, as the perceived lack of trust with employers makes them work themselves harder to prove their dedication. In contrast, coworking spaces offer a healthier, supportive environment that lets you separate your working and home lives:

“Working in a coworking space that is filled by other location independents can reduce the risk of a burnout and give a good sense of when others switch off for the day.”

London is a big city, and it can be easy to feel isolated, particularly when working remotely for another business. Coworking spaces offer workers the chance to engage in a social environment that promotes collaboration and shared knowledge, whilst also giving them the space to get their heads down and work uninterrupted if that’s what they need.

Making the most of what coworking spaces have to offer

There are other services that can be offered by or used alongside coworking spaces. Many of these spaces offer address services and mail services, but there is something to be said for looking into separate addresses for company registration. Lisa Murgatroyd, community manager at Accelerate Places, said:

“[A virtual address] can impact rankings through search engines such as Google, which attributes more weight to a company address and provides customers with more peace of mind regarding the accountability of a fixed addess.”

Murgatroyd’s comment is particularly relevant for those startups or entrepreneurs who tend to use coworking spaces for short periods of time, making them unhelpful as registered company addresses. In these instances, having another, fixed address is beneficial for consistency that the coworking spaces don’t provide.

However, London’s coworking spaces do provide much more than a desk. Globally, 79% of operators said that their coworking space was more than just a coworking space. As we have seen, these spaces are places for collaboration and community, but many of them offer tangible additional services, such as event spaces, coffee shops and libraries.

They are places to escape from the bustle of London life, providing a healthy, relaxed environment in which to work. It’s no wonder that their popularity continues to rise.

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