Picking an office is serious, even more so than marriage. Couples merely share a life. Business partners share liability. So I’ll skip the preamble and get to the checklist items. They’re ordered by what are likely priorities for your office, to maximise not just productivity, but corporate conjugal bliss.
Most coworking spaces are clustered in central areas bounded by Outram Park in the west, Lavender in the west, and Orchard in the north. Narrow down your search to areas that are about equidistant for your team. They will tend to fall on one side of the central cluster.
Self-explanatory. For teams of 3 and over, decisions tend to become comparisons of private rooms in different spaces. Small teams may yet choose between open areas and private rooms.
Surprise. Budget is all the way down in third as it has to be considered in light of travel time and team size. Everyone has a finite budget, so this isn’t going to change your figures tremendously, but will optimise at the margins of the costs that you can control, which is the right thing to do. Drillers, a Hong Kong-based oil and gas community and jobs portal founded by entrepreneur Dave Taylor, finds that a small office does not impede their business, which takes place mostly virtually in any case.
“Our community is active on our Drillers drilling forum, and we manage most talent acquisition projects online too. Since they’re regional projects, the only drawback is time zones.”
Meeting room policy
Meeting room usage policy is the most difficult factor to compare between spaces. Some spaces offer discounted rates for tenants/members, while others offer a fixed number of free hours per month. If you often have informal meetings, you may even choose a space with a comfortable common area. It is all more confusing than a hall of mirrors. A helpful practice is simply to establish a baseline figure for how many hours of meetings you will need, and do the math for each candidate space.
There are 2 questions that need an answer for your guests. What areas can you take the guest into? Are there areas that are off-limits? If there is a common working area frequented by guests it may be noisier than optimal. Perhaps most importantly, is there guest WiFi available for your meetings?
Pickups and dropoffs should always be right at the doorstep of your office. That isn’t possible at every office though. Singapore is a compact city and ease of getting around is high, but rain and rush hour traffic can be uncooperative. If you’re working close to the city centre, the annual Formula 1 night race may also become an unwelcome obstacle to transport.
Matt Taylor of UK self-storage service provider Whatstorage shared that in his experience, a surprising number of entrepreneurs use self-storage. Anything that can’t sit comfortably by their desk in a coworking space automatically gets sent to a self-storage facility, often nearby. This can work just as well for uber-urbanized Singapore. To this end, convenient pick up and drop off with your Grab/Uber is a must.
I have yet to come across a coworking space that advertises parking space as a perk. Parking is almost always under the purview of the building management so it is uncommon to have parking privileges. It’s a checklist item for asking if you drive though.
If, like me you drink your bodyweight in coffee, good (preferably free) coffee is a valuable perk to have. I’ll have caffeine from the coffee machine, Nespresso, or a coffee shop nearby. But I draw the line at instant coffee. Your mileage may vary.
Board room availability
These are available only at the larger coworking spaces. Check to see if the meeting room policy applies equally to the board room. Sometimes they don’t.
Although decent food is everywhere in Singapore, vegetarian or Halal / Kosher food are not evenly distributed. A brisk walk around the office will tell you everything you need to know about the food options nearby though. After all, lunch should not be the start of a long trek during a typical sunny Singapore afternoon.
Beer doesn’t have to be on this checklist, but i would be remiss if i didn’t list it here for some spaces do offer free beer or frequently have events where beer is served. Spaces more generous with their beer also tend to have better social interactions between members, which are a defining aspect of the coworking space experience.
Some spaces like The Refinery offer one-of-a-kind facilities like wood-working space. If you run a niche business like Monotonik (aka mono211, the 100% online record label), extra considerations have to be made for recording space, equipment, storage etc. This list can’t help you with those esoteric requirements, but you can leave us a message below and we’ll see what we can do to help.