As a small business owner your first responsibility is keeping the doors open. If you cannot turn a profit, you’re not going to be able to do that for long. That means keeping a close eye on expenses, trimming where you can, and making savvy choices that save you money while not impeding your ability to get the job done. As an individual who also cares about the environment, and always looks to make choices that promote sustainability, it is fantastic when these two desires match up. Recycling and reusing materials is one way, but what if there was an even more extensive method for saving money and the environment at the same time? In fact, there is. So if you think of yourself an eco-preneur, consider dropping your individual office and coworking instead.
So what is coworking? Basically it’s a way to run your company while minimizing the expenses and environmental footprint of running an office. One option many entrepreneurs have explored is telecommuting. Basically, it’s a way to use video conferencing technology to conduct meetings with people from all over the world, right from the comfort of your home. It is a great option for those with a small business, but what if you still want an office space? Some people simply don’t trust themselves to work effectively with all the distractions of home. Others are fine working in any environment, but need a professional space to see clients, prefer having a secretary or office manager at their disposal, or simply enjoy the energy of a busy office. But if your company isn’t large enough to support an office space, you might be out of luck.
With coworking, you would share a joint office space with a number of other entrepreneurs or telecommuting employees from other businesses. The common work space could be open, with a number of desks and workstations, or a shared floor with individual offices. You’ll find coworking spaces in cities all around the country, and you could secure yourself a desk for as little as a couple hundred dollars each month. That makes it far more affordable than an office of your own, and you’ll also be able to take advantage of shared utilities and equipment such as printers, photocopy machines and wireless internet service. Some coworking spaces have kitchens you can use with coffee and afternoon snacks included, as well as conference rooms and phone services you can rent.
While this is obviously a huge money saver for your business, it is also truly environmentally friendly. With coworking you don’t have a full office worth of equipment and electricity consumed solely for your business, but you contribute to a shared electric bill and shared equipment. Instead of having to buy another printer or fax machine that just sits 90% of the time, you’d take your turn on a busy device, so potentially dozens of businesses would get to use it. Ideally you could find a coworking space that’s convenient by public transportation, or even in walking distance to your house. And whatever materials you would have used to make your office professional, like new paint, or carpets or pond fountains in the lobby wouldn’t need to be wasted, as you’ll walk into a fully-formed office. It’s a great option from both financial and environmental perspectives.