Coworking VS. Traditional Office Space

Office Space - cubicle life

By Camilla Brown

In Canada and the U.S. there’s a lingering tradition of dumping office workers into little grey cubicles. Most of us have done time nine-to-fiving at some point: we’ve tolerated the nasty lighting, the dank water cooler, the tiny windows off somewhere in the far distance. That’s no way to live. At KWENCH, we’re raising the bar — and we have options for office-based teams. All hail the new generation of headquarters and satellite offices! They’re coming into the coworking light, and they’re bringing their workforce with them! *Sunglasses ON*

Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night

Before coworking came along, entrepreneurs and their teams were backed into a corner, literally. It essentially came down to working from home or renting a commercial space. Looking for a commercial office is HARD (trust us, we’ve been there). Finding somewhere suitable is time-consuming, usually involves a large deposit, and can require committing to a multi-year lease and 1,000 sq. ft. minimum. Correctly navigating this complicated procedure demands a team of lawyers, accountants, lease consultants, property managers, architects, building inspectors, and interior designers.

Once you’ve got your space, you’ll need to consider the capital costs, which typically includes furniture, equipment, utilities, and tech infrastructure. A 2015 study found that, on average, less than 33% of office employees were engaged with their work. Nailing the design is crucial; one of the main causes of office inefficiency is poorly-designed spaces.

Finally, don’t wanna be a bummer, but on top of all that there’s the ongoing responsibilities of running your own office: management, maintenance, cleaning.

The Office


If you’re looking to open a headquarters or satellite office, leave the messy details to us and dedicate your time and energy to where it matters - your company. The elasticity of coworking means that accommodating a new employee is as simple as adding another membership, coffee is always on, someone is always there to greet your clients, cleaning and maintenance is performed by magic and you can bring your dog. Plus, we’ll let you in on a secret: consolidating all your costs into a single monthly invoice streamlines accounting and tax prep. Jackpot.

Stepping back from the spreadsheets for a second, coworking offers a tangible sense of community and connection. In a 2015 survey of coworkers, 69% reported they learned new skills, 79% said coworking has expanded their social networks, and 89% reported they were happier. Because coworking spaces are conducive to well-being, creativity and idea sharing, they make ideal work environments for burgeoning startups and their over-stretched employees. At KWENCH, we offer the full package: from gleaming bathrooms and a fully-stocked kitchen, to a business grade printer and private phone booths. We’ll receive your mail at our friendly reception, keep your bike safe in our storage area, and hang out for Friday beers.

But don’t just take it from us, we spoke to two loyal KWENCHers about coworking, office life and startups!

Joe Collins, Avalon

Kerri Coles Photography

Kerri Coles Photography

Joe Collins is the founder and co-owner of cloud-based accounting firm Avalon. He was also the very first member of KWENCH! His startup helps small businesses to grow, while allowing the owners to sustain a good work-life balance. He likes the puzzle of successful entrepreneurship, describing it as “a challenging, complex world”.

As someone who has previously worked in the “monoculture” of all-accountancy offices, Joe is a big fan of the social aspect of coworking. “Here I get to talk to software developers, graphic designers and architects over lunch. It’s interesting finding out how everyone approaches problems in an innovative way.” When forming Avalon, Joe considered a traditional office, but decided the trade-offs are too great. “You’re paying for space that is empty for so much of the day, as well as all the operational costs that go along with running the office.”

The Avalon team has been growing steadily, but their office space at KWENCH has expanded and contracted, depending on how his staff want to work. “Our team are busy people, so having the option to come into the office or work from home is good for their job satisfaction. They might want to come downtown, or they might want to avoid the commute and get their head down at home. It’s flexible.” Recently they’ve been booking the large KWENCH boardroom and having the whole team work from there once a month. “It’s been really good so far. People come in at 9am, we work all day, then we head out around 4pm and go for drinks and dinner.”

Joe has secured a two-person office at the new KWENCH space on Store Street and will continue to hire a boardroom for Avalon’s monthly team sessions. He says he’s enjoyed seeing the “ebb and flow” of KWENCH over the years, with every new members bringing something fresh to the table. As someone who has known KWENCH founder, Tessa a long time, he says he can’t wait to see her vision for Store Street become reality. “This has been her intention for a long time. I’m excited to see it come together.”

Annabel Youens, Appreciation Engine

Appreciation Engine

Appreciation Engine is a specialised marketing automation and fan insight platform for the music industry, enabling clients to create personalized, targeted marketing. Co-founder Annabel Youens thinks back to her first office, which she and co-founder/ husband, Jeff Mitched leased back in 2008 in Wellington, New Zealand. “There’s things you don’t think about when you’re considering office space. You expect you’ll need to pay the rent, electricity, internet, etc. What you can’t predict are all the small things which add up — not just in costs, but in time.”

Running an office wasn’t how she wanted to be spending her precious time — and it wasn’t how she wanted any of her team to be spending their time either. She says, “I would rather my team were focused on anything other than making sure the cleaners are doing a good job, or researching and ordering office furniture.”

When Annabel and Jeff returned to Victoria, the city were they first met, they initially did a bit of “office-hoping”, until they landed at KWENCH. When she broke it down and looked at the fixed costs of running a traditional office, it didn’t make sense: “Admin takes time, all those unexpected events, for example, what if the printer breaks? You’ve got to take it to get repaired, or research an alternative. The little things add up.”

Annabel is a big fan of the coworking model, but until KWENCH she didn’t quite find that right fit. “We were in a couple of coworking spaces in L.A., including WeWork. They were each nice in their own ways, but they didn’t have the right sense of community. It’s important that you’re connecting with the other people in your space. We’ve found that at KWENCH.” Appreciation Engine was founded on some clear principles: creating a culture of respect, encouraging empathy, collaborative innovation, keeping upbeat and taking data privacy super seriously. Annabel found that this aligned with that of KWENCH. “When you’re starting an office, you want a good space, you want somewhere which reflects what your company is all about. This is where a lot of other coworking spaces fall down — with bland vibes and gimmicks. KWENCH is unique. There’s a focus on forming something inclusive and dynamic, a space which can support community.”

Appreciation Engine are growing and they look forward to moving into a larger office at KWENCH’s new Store St location, capable of accommodating twelve people. Annabel loves that regardless of the size of the office, or the number of members in her team, she just pays one monthly bill, and knows that everything will be smooth and easy.

Camilla Brown for KWENCH
Twitter @camlucbro

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