There has been quite a bit of follow-up from the previous article, on twitter.
One fallout is the idea of using coworking spaces to make up for crappy lease conditions in London. Hot desking and coworking spaces like UpstartsConnect in King’s Cross can be a temporary solution. In fact, we ourselves used Hub Westminster for nearly 6 months and were fairly happy with it.
However, there are some downsides to coworking that make it unsuitable to growing companies, particularly as they go past the 5-people mark.
- Prices are very high considering the actual space you have available. Near the end of our time at HubWest, we were paying about £4k/m for a space of about 240 square feet. On a per-square-foot basis, this would be £200 or more per square foot. Arguably, you also have access to the rest of the space in the coworking space, to wander around and make phone calls, but the space that’s actually yours to use constantly is very limited.
- Facilities can be an issue. Needing to pay for meeting rooms, often not having decent conferencing facilities, can be a drag on the business. It’s not a huge, critical drag, but it’s a constant niggle that makes certain things like conference calls and meetings more difficult.
- Most importantly, it is very difficult to build a company culture when you’re in someone else’s space, and coworking always feels like someone else’s space. I believe building the right kind of culture is a fundamental challenge of growing a company. This challenge is made even harder (perhaps impossible) in a coworking space.
For those reasons, I would not recommend coworking spaces once you’re past 5 people.
As Doug Monro puts it, the 5-year lease model is broken, and what’s really needed is the equivalent of coworking spaces, but for grown-up companies that need to have their own space that they are free to occupy, alter, own, and evolve into, without feeling like they’re in someone else’s space.