Coworking is becoming a more and more popular way of working and Brussels is no exception. The concept of coworking involves more than just sharing office space. It is very much a state of mind and encourages collaboration, exchange of ideas and knowledge-sharing.
What is coworking ?
As the name suggests, first and foremost means working together with a fresh working perspective, combining independence and collaboration.
Coworking is a new way of working with simple rules, taking place in dedicated spaces. Coworking spaces can take a variety of forms, well-equipped cafés to rented office space.
The advantages of coworking
Coworking spaces allow business owners to network without having to make much effort, as it is already an integrated concept. By bringing together entrepreneurs, coworkers automatically create relationships between each other. Collaboration with different personalities in the same space is conducive to connecting with different sectors and activities. A designer can easily engage with a consultant or a photographer, for example. The concept makes a valuable contribution to towards creating new opportunities and new cooperation relationships, while fostering entrepreneurship and creativity.
Furthermore, networking events are organised by most coworking groups, which creates a real sense of community between coworkers.
Coworking spaces also give you access to professional equipment and high-quality infrastructure such as a desk, wifi, printers, video projectors, meeting rooms, etc. All for a minimal cost, as it is all shared between coworkers.
Finally, using coworking spaces allows greater flexibility, both in terms of working hours and renting office space. There is the option to rent a place for the hour or the day, which might prove to be financially-viable.
The disadvantages of coworking
Coworking spaces are usually lively and sometimes noisy places. In fact, between phone calls and discussions between colleagues, coworking may prove to be distracting for individual workers who particularly like working in a quiet, calm environment.
This type of working does not suit individuals or start-up projects requiring professional secrecy. For example, a junior lawyer would not be able to use a coworking space as they would have information that cannot be disclosed. Nevertheless, more and more spaces are offering private offices.
How much does it cost ?
Different options are available for renting coworking office space, such as, by the hour, day, month or year. It all depends on the facility in question, the type of desk you would like to rent (open plan, private office or residency desk, whether you would be renting as an individual or a group, open plan or private office, etc.) the services provided (materials, the size of the area, services such as reception, catering, etc.).
More good news: You can receive a membership grant for a coworking centre, provided that it is approved by Brussels Economy and Employment.
What should you consider when choosing a coworking space ?
- Check who the target audience of the coworking space is (companies, students, people belonging to a particular sector, etc.).
- It is also worth taking note of the opening hours of the coworking space, depending on your requirements. Attendance is very flexible but it is sometimes necessary to book in advance.
- Check whether you can get there easily by public transport.
- Some coworking companies offer another major advantage in terms of flexibility: they have multiple spaces in different areas, even in different cities or countries. This is useful to know in case you need to meet clients in different locations.
- Some working spaces have meeting rooms available for coworkers to use, which can be booked by the hour. Others offer them free of charge. You should consider whether you will need to arrange lots of meetings.
- Coworking spaces vary so much that it is wise to test out the space for a day before making a decision. Some spaces offer the first coworking day free of charge. Be sure to ask if you can send a few hours in the open plan area so you can see for yourself what the atmosphere is like. Feel free to trial different spaces to get a feel for the different types of atmospheres.
Finding a suitable coworking space
It is not always easy to find a coworking space that suits your needs.
- On the 1819 site (Menu Tools WHO CAN HELP ME? you will find a directory of coworking spaces, incubators and business centres in Brussels. More than 97 places!
- See the Belgian Workspace Association website which has a membership directory.
- Other websites which may be helpful to your search: co-worker, bewake, flexas and good old Google, of course.