By Jen Arnold
Recently, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to facilitate an ideation session at a co-working facility in North Carolina – HQ Raleigh. We were excited when we learned about the space and had high hopes that it would serve as great inspiration for our client.
To showcase the diverse talent inhabiting HQ Raleigh, we offered companies the chance to speak at a “lunch and learn” with our clients before the ideation session. Michelle Harper from Akili Software and Sean Newman from Betaversity gave brief presentations to our group about their companies and their journeys. It was fascinating to see how different these projects are, and yet they still live and do business in the same space.
When we arrived, I was excited to see how many people were actually utilizing the space. There was a guy giving chair massages for $1 per minute, a woman sitting at a table in the common area with a sign in front of her that said “Legal Advice” (which is probably pretty helpful for smaller companies who may have just started) and several other conversations were happening everywhere in the building. There were also small booths where people could talk on their phone without disturbing others and small conference rooms that could be rented for meetings. Our session started on a Tuesday, and to our happy surprise a barista works for tips every Tuesday morning!
In planning and being there, I learned a few things about co-working spaces that I had not known. Firstly, when planning our session we learned there are many rules to working with others in the space. At first, I thought this long list of rules seemed like overkill. However, I do realize that they are in place to make the working environment comfortable for everyone. Just like modern etiquette, you are to chew with your mouth closed to make others around you feel comfortable.
Other things I learned and experienced were:
• There were many, actual office spaces which presumably larger and more established organizations rent them from the co-working space. This surprised me; because I had a pre-conceived notion that these co-working offices were one, big room maybe with some desks or tables.
• Everyone seemed to clean up after themselves. There was a full kitchen that was always neat and tidy. There were no dishes in the sink
• It was a social setting, and not just for working. There were two kinds of draught beer. I think it cost about $2/beer, which you tap yourself.
• There was ample space for training. One space held a daily adult coding class in the morning and a kids’ coding class in the afternoon.
I did find there were some challenges. However, now that I know what to expect, I will be much more prepared in the future. Some of these challenges were:
• There was no one person who was responsible for selling/renting the conference rooms – like in a conference facility or hotel where everything is taken care of for you. There was also not a team to take care of our needs. This just meant that we had to find and hire a caterer, and clean up after ourselves. Now that I know to expect this, I will be more prepared in the future when renting a conference room in a co-working space
• There was a small area where you can make photocopies and print-outs. However, there was no actual “business center”.
• They don’t offer daily rates for people who are traveling to the area and need a place to work for just a day or a few hours.
• While many people were doing their work in the common area, and were nice and helpful (like the girl who happened to be working at a table near the coffee machine – thanks for the help!), there were even more people working in rented office spaces. It did not seem like these people would be available to randomly collaborate like those who worked in the main spaces. I had expected a more open concept to facilitate more cross-communication in the building.
Please remember that my observations are as a visitor, not a member. I am sure members have a different experience than those who come in for just a day or two. Also, this is the only co-working space I have experienced. I would LOVE to hear what you have experienced. Please tell me what you have learned about working in or visiting a co-working space. Have you ever rented a room in a co-working space for a meeting? I would love to hear your experiences.
Be sure to check out HQ Raleigh