We live in a sharing economy. We share our homes with AirBnb, we share our cars with Uber, and we even share small jobs with TaskRabbit. Why should the office be any different? Business owners are always looking for new and innovative ways to cut costs without compromising growth, and rethinking where we work has created one of the latest sharing trends in business, the “coworking space.”
Old school business owners may be hesitant to run any company that doesn’t physically operate within its four walls, but the experts say that coworking spaces are just as productive as the traditional office and here to stay. If you want to save money on office space but aren’t sure how to run a coworking space properly, here are tips to get maximum productivity from your employees.
The Coworking Space & How It Works
Coworking spaces are semi-public spaces spread across the country, mostly in major cities and urban areas. Some are independently owned, and others are subsidized by the city or state, but they all require a monthly or annual fee to use the facilities.
A good coworking space has all the amenities of a great office, available to members who set up shop in the collaborative spaces. Some companies call one coworking space home, and others are spread out across multiple spaces coast to coast.
Conferencing & Collaboration
If you work in New York and one of your employees is at a coworking space in Los Angeles, you need the ability to work together as if you’re in the same room — that’s where video conferencing and screen sharing come in. The free services such as Google Hangouts and Skype are both great places to get started. They integrate well with Google Docs or Microsoft Office (depending on which your business uses) and offer basic video and screen-sharing options.
For a more enterprise-level service, GoToMeeting offers HD conferencing, meeting scheduling and the ability to record meetings in video or audio. Google and Skype are enough for most startups, but some companies who video chat on a daily basis might want more.
Data & Backup
Whether or not you run internal data servers (and if you use coworking spaces, you probably don’t), it’s not worth the risk avoiding costs on cloud backup. Relying on local storage across the country could cause huge problems in fragmentation, and there’s no easy way to recoup data if someone’s laptop is damaged or they leave the company.
Free services are fine for single users, but they don’t offer the file management businesses need when several employees are uploading from different locations. Services such as Mozy provide backup with business in mind, so you can manage file storage from a number of employees in several locations.
Project management software can be bloated and expensive, but a startup can get by with what free services provide. Trello is a free virtual Kanban board that can assign tasks to anyone in your company and move those tasks across different columns, depending on where they are in the process. It’s a visual way to track any number of projects and can save your company thousands in project management costs.