Converting your office into a co-working space

Converting your office into a coworking space

Everyday we get calls from people asking if we could help them convert their existing furnished office into a co-working space. Normally, when a tenant moves out, the owner is left thinking if they should look to lease it to someone new or dabble into this new world. While many have an open mind about venturing into something new, here are the common misconceptions that we come across (Think of these as a series of questions that leads to unravelling the concept of coworking) :

1. I want to retain the existing layout and design

A co-working space is about collaboration amongst its residents while maintaining a fair level of privacy and giving everyone their private space. Typically, we find that existing corporate offices are designed for large teams that use open desk spaces with very few manager cabins and private offices. While these ratio work for a single occupier, smaller teams require a different design and configuration, so be ready to re-design and re-think the layout. What is good for Sam is seldom good for Peter.

2. Co-working is only about selling by seat

“Ok, instead of pricing by area, I will price it by the seat, anything else?” We often hear this argument, where people reduce co-working to just a different method of pricing – on their mobile calculator apps, working out what’s the equivalent cost per seat. To be fair, this is also the calculation we find most users make before choosing a workspace, but the philosophy behind co-working is not just the arithmetic. Co-working is about creating that ecosystem that allows multiple users to work independently and this requires investment of time and capital by the providers.

3. I need to invest only in high speed internet and housekeeping

Almost every commercial property owner has a team of their own that take care of their property, and they are happy to extend their services for housekeeping and other support functions. Add to that a broadband connection, maybe a backup line too. Is that sufficient? Professional workspace is about accountability – the workspace provider is eventually promising a hassle-free use of their workspace. Adding a touch of professionalism through reputed third-party service providers, or developing a robust internal system to track these is an absolute must. Likewise, investing in backup power, a good leased line with a redundant line, good mobile signal reception goes on to define the seriousness of the venture.

4. I want 5-star pricing

“So, after all this, can I price it at Twenty Thousand for a seat a month?” My answer to that is, would you pay that price if you were the user. While it is great to compare oneself with the best co-working space in the vicinity and to match them on price, its more out of hope than logic. For starters, pricing is a complex function, and eventually what you charge is not just the real estate cost, but the services that are bundled alongside. Then there is size and tenure of the deal, the location premium. Lastly, there is also the brand value of the coworking space you are comparing to – how do people perceive you to be in comparison to that brand?

5. Who is my customer?

As much as we would like this to be the first question that is asked, it is often the last. We now have a product, so who do you think will be interested? A more important part of the problem is – how do I find customers. Well, that’s easy – start with listing on Sneed – it is the best online channel to reach people looking for such ready use offices. Define the type of users you prefer – smaller teams but more customers or a few mid-sized companies. Users are looking at various options, so when they come calling on you, give them very few reasons to reject you – clarity on the terms of use, flexibility to accommodate special needs go a long way in conveying your intentions, and of course be patient!

To sum up, if you have an existing office space and want to convert it into a coworking space, be clear as to why you want to do it – it’s a service led business, not leasing. Determine the type of customers you want to target, the price points you want to play at and work out if the layout and design fulfill the needs. Coworking spaces requires attention to details and day to day issues so have professional teams to handle it and yes work with the best online platforms to ensure you reach out to maximum users.

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