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How Do I Convince My Employer to Pay for my Coworking Membership?

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The growing popularity of coworking is changing the way people work. When given the option, more and more professionals are finding success in  the shared office concept as an alterative to long commutes, sterile cubicles, pricey leases and distracting home offices.  Today’s mobile, remote workforce has some pretty convincing reasons to ask their employers to pay for coworking.

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Get your talking points straight before approaching the person who’ll write the check.

But first, have the details worked out before you approach the person writing the check.  How is the membership going to increase productivity and result in ROI for your company?  Bring a proposal that contrasts the drawbacks of working from home with the benefits of working in a shared space and how that will translate to greater output. Here  are one coworker’s tips for success:

I try not to oversell the networking aspect of a coworking membership to employers.  It has value, but it’s hard to accurately translate the tangible benefit, especially to a larger company.  Some employers will meet new talent, connections and event clients, but it’s not a guarantee, and it ultimately depends on the individuals who will be using the space day to day and the level at which they participate in the community.”
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They say “the ideal commute isn’t NO commute.” Here, an example.

Typical Scenarios that Warrant Employer Sponsorship

Scenario 1:  I’m a remote worker for medium to large employer headquartered out of state.  This tends to be the easiest sell and it is a pretty common situation.  A company sends 1 to 2 employees to a new city to operate a satellite office and test the waters of the market.  Most firms don’t want to commit time and resources to searching for space, or dedicate budget to an office manager to set up a new office for a pilot program.  Many traditional firms still frown at the idea of their employees working in their pajamas, so coworking memberships are a natural fit.


Scenario 2:
I am a vendor, consultant, or freelancer working with a large corporate client.  Most larger cities are flush with vendor companies that operate in the greater tech, business and healthcare ecosystems, consulting and staffing for companies like Amazon and Microsoft.  Because consultants aren’t employees, they aren’t assigned office space, and usually resort to squatting in cafeterias or lobbies on their clients’ corporate campuses.  It’s a bad way to work, and generally frowned upon by the clients’ HR departments.  We’ve found a market for consultants who need to be in the city to easily get to meetings, but want actual workspace the rest of the time.  No one should be ducking into janitorial closets for conference calls.  Get yourself a proper desk.  You’ll do better work and your clients will thank you.

Scenario 3: 
I am a part timer or founder at a startup or small business and we all work from home.  This is generally the toughest sell.  Most fledgling companies (especially pre-revenue) aren’t ready to add any monthly expenses unless it will greatly contribute to their output.  One benefit a coworking space can offer is the ability to brainstorm and work together in a live setting with amenities like whiteboards, digital displays, and coffee.  Night owl memberships have been especially popular with groups that are spinning up a side project while maintaining 9-5 jobs.  It’s hard enough to moonlight your business without the distractions of pets, kids and Netflix after a long day at the office. Even  part time memberships  that allow your team to meet face to face just once a week, can greatly improve your chances of success.

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Workbar Union and Arlington feature flexible Nights and Weekends memberships.

Great talking points – share with the person ultimately responsible for writing the check.

  • By having access to dedicated workspace, I will be able to avoid the distractions of working from home or coffee shops (cat on keyboard, noisy conference calls), have reliable high speed network access, and I’ll be  able to put in more efficient, focused days.  The biggest benefits experienced by employees transitioning to a coworking space is increased productivity (23% more than office workers) and an increase in income generation (32% more) [Deskmag]
  • Our team will benefit from working side by side on a regular basis.  Slack and video calls have their place, but you can’t beat face to face contact for problem solving and collaboration.  People tend to work through challenges much more quickly, when they can test ideas in real time.
  • images-2Not only will our company have a dedicated business address in the city, we’ll have a professional space to meet with clients, vendors, and recruits.  Under no circumstances should I meet with a prospect in my kitchen. My newborn is cute, but not when she starts crying in the background of a presentation.
  • Coworking allows our company flexibility and financial freedom while we test new markets.  Costs associated with setting up a new office location are staggering (see below). These are negated if we leverage short term, no commitment, shared office space.  If our company’s experiment is successful, we can easily transition to traditional office space later.

Costs of opening a new office location (avoid these with coworking!)

    • Time spent with brokers, attorneys, etc searching for space and negotiating leases
    • Opportunity cost of pledging future capital to lease obligations, inability to quickly scale up or down
    • $30-60K a year for additional resources to set up and manage office (ISPs, printer/copier, coffee vendors, furniture, janitorial etc) – or even worse, taking a producer away from their core responsibilities to do these tasks
    • Costs associated with scheduling conference room time, offsites that a smaller office space can’t accommodate

Now that you know how to pitch the benefits of coworking, you can approach your employer with a proposition that can actually add value, instead of feeling like you’re asking for a favor. After all, the “trend” of coworking isn’t a trend anymore- it’s the future of work.

 


About the authors: Chris and Audrey Hoyt run the Pioneer Collective, an independently owned and operated Seattle coworking space in the heart of Pioneer Square. This shared workspace project brings inspiration and productivity into the office environment with a variety of flexible access options and month to month pricing, so members can choose the coworking membership that works best for them.   In addition to coworking, The Pioneer Collective serves as an event rental space and offers hourly conference room and classroom rentals.

Workbar operates seven coworking locations in the Boston area (Boston,  Cambridge,   Somerville,   Arlington,  Norwood,  Brighton,  Danvers) and several other network  partner locations  throughout the state. Want to keep up with the World of Workbar?  Subscribe to our newsletter  for the most up-to-date information about our upcoming events and community news. You can also follow us on  Instagram,  Facebook,  LinkedIn  and  Twitter.

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