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What is the best CoWorking space in San Diego?

In every business, from tax preparation to coffee, you have to make a choice between a national brand and a locally owned business. With the dramatically increasing demand for coworking spaces, remote workers and entrepreneurs have to make the same choice – nationally branded coworking or a locally grown company. (Obviously, we at NEST are biased.)

But let’s talk about the benefits of a national brand. In many ways, nationally branded coworking spaces come with a few benefits over what you can get with a local space. The primary benefit of a national coworking company is the access to office space in all major metropolitan areas. So if you are constantly on the go – from Seattle to Orlando – then a large, corporate coworking company might be a better choice. But for anyone who plans on heading into a local office, a locally owned coworking space is always a better choice. Here’s why:

Locally owned and managed coworking spaces have a flexibility in contracting you won’t find in with larger companies. Temporary holds, upgrades, downgrades, and additional desks are easy changes to your current lease. In other words, you won’t be nickel-and-dimed by a local coworking company. You will also find that the smaller, local company will provide more freebies like conference room use, beverage services, and printing.

Local coworking spaces also tend to have a broader range of working spaces. The big coworking companies are going to be focused on squeezing every dime out of every square inch of space. And that means lots of closed doors and tiny cubicles. Local coworking spaces will have plenty of open areas furnished with couches and café tables. The smaller, local companies will offer more outdoor spaces for events and social gatherings.

Finally, you won’t find the kind of symbiotic environment in a large, corporate coworking space. The local coworking space is likely to have a tenant niche (like tech-oriented NEST) and will attract collaborative people. Casual conversations and official networking comes easier in a locally owned coworking space.

In short, a locally owned coworking space is more likely to meet your needs as a new and growing company. At a space like NEST, you will find the right kind of driven and collaborative folks that make coworking a great place to be.

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Downtown SD Emerging as New Tech Hub

Everyone knows your basic US tech cities – Seattle and San Francisco. And thanks to the major tech players like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, those cities will likely remain at the top of the tech heap for years to come. But San Diego is attracting significant attention as an emerging tech hub. And here’s why:

Lifestyle

If you want rain, go to Seattle. Busy streets? Try New York. But if you want great weather year-round without the bother of LA posers, you come to San Diego. And for the moment, San Diego is considered “affordable” when you compare housing prices to places like San Francisco. Keep in mind, the emerging workforce is one that empathizes quality over quantity. Twentysomethings are happy to give up big houses and hefty salaries for a freelancing flip-flop life.

Location

Not only does San Diego county offer broad expanses of land (think: North County’s Geico call center); but downtown San Diego has its underdeveloped East Village. From 2005 to 2008, the East Village was flush with developments. Now, eight years later, the empty lots and unused buildings are coming into focus as developers eye those blocks for expansion. The I.D.E.A. district and Makers Quarter are going to bring tech workers into an arts, commercial, and residential project that will rival swanky SF living.

Industry

So, when you think San Diego, you don’t automatically think tech software. But the city has a long history of developing everything from bio technology to microchips to missile launchers. We have our fair share of major players like Qualcomm and General Atomics. Plus don’t forget about our reputation as a research hub thanks to the huge universities.

San Diego has everything to become America’s next tech supercity. With the universities pumping out thousands of eager workers looking for ways to stay in Sun City, tech giants are seeking ways to capture the enthusiasm. Plus, with every student comes a new idea for an app, game, or device. So the city’s grassroots tech efforts are fed by the venture capitalists excited to hear something new from Sunny SD.

Tech growth is inevitable. And welcome.

 

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Coworking Communication Avenues

Although the peak hours of operations for a coworking space might be Monday through Friday from nine to five, coworkers operate 24 hours per day. And while there are always an energetic few who want to actively network face-to-face, others would prefer an online setting. In fact, coordinating coworking members is like herding cats. Keep in mind, if they were obedient dogs, they’d be operating out of a corporate office up the street.

So how do you wrangle coworking member together?

In short, food is the best way to bring people together. Just like a gaggle of cats that keep to separate corners during the day, cats pull together when you feed them at 5pm. If you want your coworkers to come together, buy some subs from the local sub shop or order enough pizza to feed everyone. Add a little background music and it’s a party. And yes, the chatty few will keep the conversations going, but the quiet ones in the background appreciate the opportunity to socialize – even if it just means offering a few smiles to other members.

Remain active online. You need to offer regular updates about activities at the coworking space. In the 1980s, that meant printing a monthly newsletter with cheesy photos and coupon for free chips at the sub shop. Today, it’s as simple as a Facebook group. Update it once or twice a week with membership news. Post lots of great, candid photos. And occasionally encourage members to join together for an official event like a member appreciation party.

Talk to your members. People are shy. They don’t know how to break the ice. Knock on doors and ask how business is going. Encourage them to respond to the Facebook updates. Pull another member into the conversations. Conversations inside the coworking space need an organic element in order to feel genuine.

So, communication at the coworking space is all about options. Coworking members aren’t the kind of corporate employees who will conform to strict standards. So coworking managers and community coordinators have to offer a range of options. With very few exceptions will you have 90-100% participation on any one activity. But with several avenues of communication, you will reach the vast majority of members who want to engage.

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What are the benefits of coworking?

In many ways, coworking spaces are the antithesis of traditional corporate culture. With an environment based on flexible working spaces and 24-hour availability, coworking offices have a fluidity that is nearly non-existent in most 9-5 offices. However, because coworking spaces have become so prevalent, and because coworking spaces are producing some of the most innovative products and services, coworking centers and corporations have formed tentative bonds that offer benefits to each partner.

Money
The coworking economic model is not always the most stable. Because coworking lease agreements tend to be highly fluid, coworking managers don’t always know how much revenue is going to be coming in month over month. Corporate sponsors can lend stability to a coworking company’s budget. With an annual sponsorship, the coworking company sees stable revenue and the corporations gets brand exposure to up-and-coming professionals.

Space
Sometimes, coworking spaces get over-run with members who need space to work. And sometimes, corporations have dozens of empty cubicles to fill. A space exchange helps balance the desk equation by offering an additional resource for each side throughout the year. In conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, a desk exchange program can really help both sides use square footage effectively.

Collaboration
Some of the most innovative thinking happens inside coworking spaces. And some of the best resources are locked up inside the corporate structure. For example, a manufacturer with unused machine time might need a new innovative product to produce. And a coworking team might have some great ideas without the financial resources to produce a prototype or finish product. By coming together, both sides of the equation get to maximize resources with minimum risk.

It’s not always easy for corporations and coworking spaces to find each other. Generally, collaboration must come about through casual contact at MeetUp events and networking parties. And as with any possible endeavor, the partnership takes time to develop into something highly productive. However, coworking spaces are the center of enterprise thinking. And corporations will remain the core of financial resources. So each side has the motivation to seek out the other and find common ground for development.

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Wellness at Work

Work can be stressful; but your workplace shouldn’t be. The modern office has come a long way from the dull pallor of the grey cubicles and fluorescent lighting of the 1980s. To be fair, some work spaces seem to have gone too far… basketball courts and open floorplans might seem enviable — but could mean far too many distractions for functional workplace. The right approach to wellness in the workplace means creating a plan customized to match your location and meet the needs of your group of workers.

San Diego’s CyberTECH is embracing wellness with an initial, three-pronged approach: hydration, nutrition, and physical activity. Moreover, CyberTECH is partnering with emerging companies to bring these wellness activities into their co-working space.

To start, CyberTECH has partnered with Kona Deep to ensure its Members have the best water available throughout their working day. According to its website, “Kona Deep offers a very different hydration experience because of its unique blend of naturally occurring deep ocean electrolytes.” As an incubator space for entrepreneurs and tech companies, CyberTECH is a second home to many of its Members. Early morning meetings and late nights are standard in this workplace. Most of the Members will spend more (awake) hours in these offices than at home. And while tap water might be sufficient, proper hydration comes from drinking high quality water, like Kona Deep.

While CyberTECH has a great Banker’s Hill location with fantastic views of the San Diego bay and Lindbergh landing strip, there aren’t many places nearby to grab lunch. To encourage healthy eating, CyberTECH is soon to open Grind – Fresh and Healthy Choices Coffee Cart. The in-house cart will be using local coffee roasters and local food producers to offer Members a way to buy fresh food and coffee. Members will soon have an easy way to grab food and gather around a café table or conference table to discuss collaborative business opportunities.

CyberTECH is also going to expand its use of the interior courtyard at the First and Fir building by offering Feng Gong Relaxation. With the help of a Member organization, CyberTECH wants to help others at First and Fir reduce work-related stress with this Asian practice of stretching and relaxation.

CyberTECH will continue to expand and adjust its workplace wellness plans as Member needs grow and change. Possible future additions include a running club, morning yoga, and in-house benefits consultations.

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Picking Your Workplace: Finding the Niche for your Business

Not all co-working spaces are created equal – and that can be a good
thing. Perhaps you want a super-professional, crisp and clean lobby
with white furniture and no music. Or maybe you need a wide expanse of
desks with active conversations and collaborative teams. Before you
make the decision of which co-working space will best suite you,
consider some of these issues:

Can you easily downgrade or upgrade?

You might feel invincible, but every business goes through its ups and
downs. If you suddenly lose your biggest client, can you easily switch
from a private office to a single desk without much trouble? And when
business picks up, can you easily add one of those desks onto your
lease so you have a place for your part-time employee?

What are the other businesses in the space?

While it might be comforting knowing that you are surrounded by other
businesses like yours (think tech starts ups, non profits, lawyers,
etc), you will likely have a greater sense of workplace satisfaction
with a greater diversity of people at your co-working space. Plus, if
you are a business that is looking to use the co-working space for
networking and business development, the greater the diversity, the
better. Be sure to ask about networking events; people often need some
wine and chips to step outside of their office shells and start
talking to each other.

What kinds of fringe benefits does the space offer?

More specifically, how good is the coffee? Neither you nor your
clients want off-brand coffee that sits all day and turns into tar. If
the co-working space doesn’t include hospitality services, you might
want to consider another place. Single serve coffee machines, free
printer use, and a strong Wi-Fi signal can mean the difference between
a mediocre office and a stellar one. And check on the hours of
operation. Some co-working spaces are locked up by 6pm and closed on
the weekends. So if you are going to use your office for any off hour
meetings, you will need to ensure you and your clients have easy
access.

Parking and Meeting Rooms

Is parking going to be difficult? Many co-working spaces are in busy,
downtown areas. Is there public transportation that can get you to the
office? Without it, you might be paying a meter and moving your car
throughout the day. And how accessible are those meeting rooms? Sure,
you may not need to meet clients at the office every day, but if the
meeting rooms are booked three weeks in advance, then you might
trouble when you need to have a private, professional conversation.

Most importantly, visit each space and try to interact with some of
the current tenants. Every co-working space will post beautiful photos
on the web; but standing at the espresso bar and chatting with some
current tenants about the next internal networking event will make
selecting the office an easy choice.