In a world where nearly an entire generation is separated from excessive face-to-face interaction due to the limitless abilities of technology, one area is rebranding and reinventing the idea of mixing social and professional qualities. That being, co-working spaces. These new-age shared workspaces are popping up across major cities and revolutionizing the way small businesses, freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs create their office environments.
One of the most commonly heard of co-working environments across Canada is WeWork. Offering an open concept office space for up to 25 people, per business, at an affordable price tag, co-working spaces help to cut costs, boost productivity and give new business a professional environment, already built and ready to move in to.
While co-working spaces are open to all types of businesses and walks of life, there does seem to be some common elements across the board. The trendy style, the groovy furniture, and of course, the top 5 people you will inevitably meet at nearly any co-working space.
The Healthy Hippie
The great thing about shared work spaces is that you get a very social environment, especially when it comes to the kitchen and lunchtime, which is where you’ll meet The Healthy Hippie. This particular workspace dweller will almost always be inconveniently prepping their elaborately green lunch, while simultaneously be telling the people in line for the toaster the importance of hemp hearts and how disappointed they were with the organic chives at the farmer’s market this past weekend. Don’t be fooled, The Healthy Hippie doesn’t just drone on about their superfoods and antioxidant-filled bowl of what appears to be grass, they are inconspicuously judging your hot pocket in the communal microwave. Snacker beware, The Hippie’s eyes are everywhere.
The Shockingly Young Entrepreneur
Co-working environments are almost perfectly designed for a young, fresh entrepreneur. Offering them a professional space, without the cost. Thus, in every WeWork across the country you are bound to find the trendy, yet stressed out, Shockingly Young Entrepreneur. They can easily be spotted by their casual attire and expensive accessories, whether it be a Gucci wallet or brand new, just released iPhone, The Shockingly Young Entrepreneur keeps very much to themselves. Constantly offering mystery as to how they made it happen for themselves, but you will rarely see the young entrepreneur standing around socializing. Friday afternoon ping-pong? Not a chance for the token Shockingly Young Entrepreneur.
Not unlike going to a high school library or cafeteria, there is constantly one person who drifts from group to group, offering no major loyalty or productivity to any group in particular. The Floater is always very social, seemingly friends with people from all corners and work areas, chatting and offering lively small talk about local events, restaurants, Netflix specials, you name it. The true mystery behind The Floater is that while they offer a personable distraction when that Venti Double Shot has your mouth running a mile a minute, you never really see them accomplish anything nor even truly learn what they do for a living. But you have to admit, they’ve got the entire recap on the last season of Games of Thrones when you need a refresh.
The Random Dog
Always. There is always a dog. In nearly every office in major cities, people are bringing their dogs. I mean, who wouldn’t want to break up their workday with some puppy petting and snapping some solid IG content of a golden retriever sitting at a computer? The owner of The Random Dog is usually somewhere in the office, but nobody is ever quite sure who the pet-parent of the office dog is, as everyone seems to jump in and care for the pooch at every chance they get. You will notice though, The Random Dog almost always has an adorably ironic name, and is usually the most socially well-behaved being in the entire building. Just sayin’.
The cool kids. The mean girls. The group that deep, down wishes they had the office to themselves. There is always one, and usually a small one, group of workers who live in a bubble of ignorance to those around them. They look like the studious adults you’d find in the U of T library, and they are never caught aimlessly cruising websites not related to their work. Hats off to the professional mindset, and don’t take it personal. Let them work, watch them from a safe distance, and if you find a great sale suddenly happening at Zara, tell the floater instead.
As the working world continues to evolve and expand, the idea of open concept and co-working environments is becoming more and more of a hot topic. Providing equal opportunity to small businesses to have access to professional work spaces, board rooms, interviews areas and more, there is no limitation as to where to the world of co-working will go. See for yourself by checking out the wide range of shared working environments in Toronto which Spacie has to offer, perfect for businesses of any size.
The workplace has seen many changes over the years. Until recently, most consisted of large corner offices for the top guys, more modest private offices for middle managers and the rest of the team in what was often described as a cubicle farm. This at least gave everyone a little space to call their own and put up a photo of the wife, the family pet or an out of date meme.
While the top executives might still have their fancy offices, many of the rest of us mere mortals now work in a very different environment. Often, this will be in a co-working environment.
We have all seen the funky designs, slides, video games, bowling alleys and climbing walls at some of the behemoths like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Most of the population still work in a somewhat less exciting and inspiring environment.
What is Co-Working?
Before we consider the positive and negative aspects it is important to understand what co-working is and what it looks like.
Put simply, co-working is a shared office area where workers generally share office equipment, IT infrastructure, meeting rooms, common areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. Often even support staff such as receptionist and secretaries are shared by the users of the co-working office.
Space or desks can be allocated to specific companies or individuals or could be dynamic. In a dynamic area, you simply find an empty workstation, plug in and get working.
Love it or hate it, the concept is becoming increasingly popular.
Why is co-working becoming popular?
Initially, the concept appealed to small startups, freelancers and solopreneurs. It gave them access to the space and services they needed as well as a professional front for their business without the massive overheads of running their own office.
Over time, medium and even larger companies came to see the benefits.
Office overheads are high and constant. Most space is underutilized for a large part of the day. Co-working allows for the best use of the space and the cost of common areas, meeting rooms, kitchens, restrooms, break areas and other space can be shared proportionately by those that use the facility.
IT infrastructure and maintenance costs, office automation such as copiers, printers and other equipment, telephone systems and other essential equipment and infrastructure costs can be shared.
The cost of support staff such as receptionists, cleaning, maintenance, security, and others is also shared according to the space requirements of each individual or organization in the co-working environment.
Group buying power can also reduce the cost of office supplies and consumables that the individuals or smaller businesses would not normally benefit from.
Modern companies need to be agile and flexible. Expanding a traditional office is a slow and expensive exercise if even possible. It might mean relocating as you expand. Co-working allows you to expand faster and with less disruption and expense.
Importantly, it also allows you to scale back if and when necessary. With co-working you can scale your business as and when necessary including seasonal expansion or visiting contingents.
Speed to market
Building on the above point, speed to market is often a critical success factor in modern business. Setting up a new office in a new territory is not only expensive but time-consuming. Co-working spaces could allow you to set up immediately with little to no delays.
Co-working allows smaller companies, individuals, freelancers, and solopreneurs to have a professional office space and an environment that could improve their status and image for the fraction of the cost of a traditional office.
Having a wide mix of skills and talents in the same space could result in networking opportunities and skills sharing that could be of great benefit to all involved. This is a growing trend and much easier to achieve face to face than online.
While many people believe they work better alone, be it at home or elsewhere, this is rarely the case. We are social animals and need the company of others around us. Co-working allows people to get on with their work without the isolation and loneliness that often comes with working alone.
Budget offices, which many might have to resort to as an alternative to co-working spaces, are more likely to be drab and uninspiring. The shared costs allow the better co-working offices to have modern designs with great features and an excellent feel.
Some have amazing facilities including quality food and beverage facilities, health centers, excellent breakrooms, and recreational facilities.
What are the downsides?
Co-working is not all rainbows and butterflies and there are some downsides. While there are many benefits, it is important to access the negative aspects before committing to the concept.
Many people like to be the master of their own domain and have a spot they can call their own. Most co-working spaces are open plan although there are flexible options. Some workers might be bothered by the guy two desks down that slurps his coffee loudly or the aggressive sales guy making booming phone calls all day. While this can happen in any office environment one has less control over these situations in a shared space.
Some companies have concerns that competitors might take up space in the same environment. This can be discussed with the managers of the environment but again, this could present opportunities for collaboration that might not otherwise become evident.
You might have urgent deadlines or simply prefer working odd hours. Many co-working environments have 24-hour access but check on this before deciding.
With your own office, you have control over all aspects of the environment. In a shared environment, you will have to sacrifice much of that control for the benefits it provides. If you do not like the artwork in reception or the color of the walls, it will not be up to you to make changes.
The rapid growth in the popularity of co-working is a testimony to the many benefits it offers. While it may not work for everyone, for many, it allows them to focus on their work without the stress of running an office. If you need a place for yourself or your staff to work from, co-working is certainly worth considering.
Developed by Allied Properties REIT, the Queen Richmond Centre West (QRC-West) offers an excellent example of High-performance Workplace and adaptive repurpose through its incorporation of two existing heritage buildings into the establishment of a new 17-storey office building. The complex faces both Richmond and Peter Streets in Toronto’s Entertainment District due to its arrangement around an L-shaped atrium. This 302,000 square foot development adds a highly sustainable, new innovative office component which begins at the ninth floor. In addition, this state-of-the-art building features a retail component at grade and provides roof terrace access. The Mega Delta Frame structure is a unique structural solution that implemented the preservation and reuse of the industrial historic buildings on this site. Tech companies will be sure to appreciate this stunning custom-designed development and advanced innovative work space.
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the MaRS Centre is a vivacious area that has become the irrefutable hub of Toronto’s Discovery District. This urban location has direct access to Toronto’s subway line and is only a few short stops from the GO Transit system. 101 College is conveniently located and is easily accessible from all parts of the GTA. It is attached to the adjacent MaRS Heritage Building and reaches through an atrium and concourse-level food court. This office building is set to satisfy its tenants with its warm and lavish lobby, protective security, and pass card access to its elevators. Tech companies can benefit from its convenient downtown location with accessible transportation and close proximity to the vibrant city of Toronto.
The Heritage Building
The Heritage Building’s 4-storey brick structure houses tenant spaces that are occupied by professional services, industry associations, pharmaceutical companies and offices of Canadian universities and the Province of Ontario. The MaRS Centre has been honoured with the Heritage Toronto Award of Excellence for Architectural Conservation and Craftsmanship. The building was established in 1911.
The MaRS atrium is a glass-roofed building that offers public access through its walkway to Heritage Building tenants and retail vendors, and also access to the South and Medical Discovery Towers. The Atrium’s lowest level features a subdivided conference area that can host both public and private events. Events that span across Toronto’s arts, culture and urban community are sure to connect tenants to this exciting city. Its lower level also includes a media centre, video conferencing rooms and a public food court.
The South Tower
The South Tower is an 8-storey property that accommodates incubator programs and shared laboratory and research facilities. The 200,000 square foot building houses advanced mechanical and electrical systems, floors with enhanced load bearing capabilities and 15-foot slab-to-slab clearances.
The MaRS Incubator occupies the second and third floors of the South Tower, directly above the MaRS corporate offices. It is a dedicated area that comprises of offices and laboratories for about two dozen life science and technology companies.
The Balfour Building is a historical tower landmark and represents one of Toronto’s finest examples of Art Deco style in the 1930s. This 12-storey structure is a premier location with its dazzling interiors, marvelous rooftop terrace, impeccable hardwood flooring, and forced air heating and centrally controlled air conditioning. Employees of the tech sector would enjoy an office building at this location with its stylish design, accessible transportation and attractive amenities. The Balfour Building is located at the Northeast corner of Spadina Avenue and Adelaide Street, and is situated near the Financial and Entertainment districts, Gardiner Expressway, and the LRT. The City of Toronto Heritage Property Inventory listed the Balfour Building as a Toronto Heritage Property in 2011.
The Toronto Carpet Factory is a remarkable historic building from the past. It has lasted throughout the years due to its fine craftsmanship and materials used to design this structure of lasting quality. Its integrity is preserved through its new state-of-the-art facilities that are meant to inspire new ideas. Tech companies will be sure to enjoy this unique work space as it can stimulate creativity and inspiration in their workers. The building is a constant reminder that they are part of a proud and inclusive tradition of creating. With an assortment of buildings taking up a full city block on the western edge of Liberty Village, this long-standing repurposed factory is Toronto’s epicenter of creative output. This nostalgic property features tall windows, soaring ceilings and big open spaces.
At the heart of Liberty Village sits 80 Atlantic. Inspiration can easily be found in this magnificent building that was crafted with materials inspired by the past. This property features thoughtful details, collaborative spaces, high-design work environments, and innovative technologies that would be ideal for talented individuals working in the tech sector. As Toronto’s first new timber-frame commercial building to be built in a generation, 80 Atlantic integrates natural and high performance materials that set a new standard of development. Between 60 & 80, the courtyard attracts visitors into the site, which serves as a social space with public access, and is the spot of a signature patio area for Big Rock Brewery’s new concept restaurant and bar.
The Fashion Building is a renowned landmark of design and elegance and is located on the northwest corner of Camden and Spadina. It is conveniently located near the Financial and Entertainment Districts with the LRT right at the doorstep, and is just seconds away from the Gardiner Expressway. Not only does its convenient location make for the perfect work environment for busy individuals in the tech sector, the building is also spacious and visually-striking. This 8-storey heritage building features Neo-Gothic detailing, sun-filled space and a beautiful marbled lobby. Built between the years 1925 and 1927, it is an impressive warehouse-loft building with rental spaces that remain sought-after locations for today’s businesses. All suites in the building feature polished wood floors, 12ft ceilings and large operable windows. It contains barrier free access, a modernized elevator system, high speed data connectivity and energy efficient building systems.
The Reading Building integrates the convenience of modern contemporary design with the beauty of a past era. The 7-storey structure at 116 Spadina Avenue is located on the northwest corner of Spadina Avenue and Camden Street. Constructed in 1925, this astounding building was originally built as a warehouse loft. This solid concrete structure with its stunning red-brick exterior continues to attract a mix of corporate and creative tenants to its exquisitely restored brick and beam suites. Employees of the tech sector will be sure to appreciate its spacious interior and comfortable open work environment.
The Tower Building is a magnificent Art Deco-style landmark located on the northwest corner of Adelaide and Spadina Avenue. An eye-catching copper covered pyramidal tower rises two storeys above its 10-storey main structure. Constructed in 1929, the loft structure was originally designed as a commercial warehouse and has endured a major renovation to its mechanical systems while conserving the integrity of its original design. It features marvelous high ceilings, maple floors, elegant concrete columns and large operable windows. Tech company employees can step into this spacious accommodating office building and feel empowered about their work space. Tenants of this property can also enjoy modern amenities that include an energy efficient heat pump HVAC system, thermal glass, entirely refurbished passenger elevators and high speed internet connectivity.
The Commodore Building is a 10-storey loft building topped by a 2-storey tower that houses a mechanical room. Constructed in 1929, it was built as a commercial warehouse. This remarkable property features spectacular high ceilings, maple floors, sophisticated concrete columns and large operable windows. Tech company employees will be sure to value a wide spacious work environment where they can craft and exchange ideas comfortably and openly. Tenants can also enjoy modern amenities which include air conditioning, thermal glass, entirely refurbished passenger elevators and high speed internet connectivity. Currently, the building houses offices in the architectural, design, advertising, and internet sectors.
720 King Street West is a 350,000 square foot commercial office building situated in downtown Toronto at the corner of King Street West and Bathurst Street in King West Village. Constructed around 1974, the building underwent a major renovation between 1998 and 2004, which changed its original use of light industrial to a commercial class ‘A’ office occupancy. The property has undergone many interior renovations to accommodate tenant requirements. The 10-storey commercial office building borders the property lines along the south, west and east sides. A small surface parking lot of about 18,800 square feet extends to the property line on the north side. Even though over 90% of the building is used for office space, there is a mix of restaurant and personal service retail units on the ground floor for tenants to enjoy. This convenient downtown office location is suitable for tech companies to set foot in, while providing their employees with comfortable amenities.