When we started We Write Code in 2015, there was no question in my mind on where we would set up shop. Des Moines is home to a number of great neighborhoods to work, each with their own pros and cons. However, with the core of our business being focused around networking, it was clear that Gravitate – a co-working space located in downtown Des Moines – was going to be our home.
We believe so much in basing our development agency around a co-working space that we recently expanded to a second co-working location in Chicago, setting up shop at 1871.
With that in mind, here are our Top 5 reasons why we operate a development agency out of a co-working space:
Although Des Moines is small in comparison to other larger cities like Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, and even Omaha, there is a lot going on in central Iowa. Because Gravitate is a unique space for Des Moines, having both startups and large established companies that call it home, there is a lot of foot traffic in the space. People are constantly coming and going, so you never know who you're going to run into in the elevators, the kitchen, or even the bullpen.
The community that a co-working space fosters is something you will never find leasing some 1000 sq. ft office in some random building on some random street. Our first cold-lead client was a result of sitting at a table and getting brought into a conversation on a topic we happen to be well versed in - web development.
Co-working spaces are great if you're new to a particular city. When we expanded to Chicago, we looked at six different co-working spaces before we landed on 1871. By joining 1871 in particular, we have been able to quickly get involved with the local community, meet new people, and get a crash course in overdrive of the community.
We Write Code strives to have a fun and relaxed working environment. We don't have set work schedules, so being able to come and go as you please is important for us. Also, because we're small, it's great when we can interact with other companies. Even if that's just grabbing lunch or a beer with someone from another company, it all contributes to the environment that we strive for.
The best part: all of the companies that use co-working spaces like Gravitate have similar goals for their working environment, so it becomes really easy to interact with others and feed off of their energy.
What can I say. Building a web design and development agency is hard enough. Then if you mix in trying to coordinate and host events on top of that, you are going to lose focus. One of the most rewarding aspects being part of a co-working community is the events.
Not a week goes by where there's not some sort of public event being hosted at Gravitate or 1871. It might be a lunch and learn in the middle of the day, a user group in the evening, or maybe even a politician stops by for a town hall one afternoon. All of these events bring people we would have never met to us. It makes for fantastic networking, and it something you would be hard pressed to recreate as a development agency in some far off building.
I really struggled with what to name this one. I considered calling this point Cost, but I think that oversimplifies the point.
Running a development agency from a co-working space is so simple. You have a fixed cost that covers all of your utilities, your internet, potentially even your parking, and in the end, you write one check every month.
When We Write Code formed, it was one person, so a dedicated desk worked well. However, one person quickly became two with the addition of a web designer, so we moved into a small office. Six months later we added a few more developers, so we moved into a medium sized office. Finally, later that year, we moved into an even bigger space, with a dedicated conference room, that we now call home. Overall, Gravitate's simple flexibility throughout each of these moves has been a huge asset for us.
Ultimately, a co-working space is designed to grow with you. You can pay for just what you need, and nothing more. Sure, you may need to plan ahead and take advantage of a vacant space a bit ahead of schedule, but in the end, that's a whole lot simpler than moving offices across town.
Because co-working spaces tend to become the center of activity in a community, it's extremely easy to keep up to date on the latest and greatest happenings in your city. Startup Company A is getting traction in their market? Cube Farm B is launching a new product? Local tax incentives are changing? A new brewery is opening down the street?
Depending on your location, co-working spaces tend to be in trendier parts of town, with amenities with-in walking distance, and good public transportation. This makes for great lunch and happy hour options.
These are all examples of the sort of buzz you hear about on a daily basis at a co-working space.
Co-working spaces are great places for a number of reasons, and I hope this article helps you to see how valuable they can be for you, your company, and your community.
We're curious though. What do you think? Why do you work from a co-working space? Share in the comments below!