The Evolution of Co-Working Spaces in Nigeria

In recent times, co-working spaces have gained massive attention globally. This has caused more and more people to raise questions about co-working spaces and why there is so much buzz around it.

What is a co-working space?

A co-working space is a facility that provides a work environment for individuals to work independently or together in a shared office space. The facilities are usually built in such a way that it is equipped with office equipment and amenities like; hot-desks, private meeting rooms, kitchens and coffee.

They offer affordable office space for those that are willing to find escape from the isolated home office.

The use of co-working spaces in Nigeria has gained popularity and has been on the increase in the last 3 years; serving as an alternative to the regular traditional office spaces. There is hardly no state in Nigeria where you cannot find a co-workspace; although some states have more co-working spaces than others; Lagos has the highest recorded number of co-working spaces in Nigeria. Every year, a dozen or more co-workspaces are established around the state. At first, it was just an island trend with spaces like; Venia Business hub, Capital Square and Workstation. The trend later gained entry into the mainland and then more spaces like; Wennovation hub, CChub, Leadspace and Musterpoint were built. There are also a good number of states experiencing a down-pour of co-working spaces in the country. The capital city of the country, Abuja has also adopted this trend. It houses a good number of hubs, a few are; Ventures Park and The Box Office Hub.

The major reasons why Nigerians have adopted the use of co-working space is because of its affordability. Since businesses and companies tend to congregate around cities or areas closest to their market, there has been an increase in rent rates in those cities. Landlords charge ridiculously high amounts of money as rent yearly. In locations like Wuse II in Abuja and Victoria Island in Lagos, 60,000-100,000 Naira is charged per-square meter annually.

Another reason is the flexibility of payment enjoyed by using co-working spaces. Landlords usually require a 1-2years payment for rent. But co-working spaces are more open to options. There are payments for hours, days, months or years thus, making co-working spaces more pocket friendly than renting an office or a building for your company.
In 2016, at the annual Business Capital Market conference, the director of Research and International Relation, at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation was in attendance. He (Muhammed Umar) said that Nigerians who have more than 500,000 Naira in their bank accounts are just 2%. The analysts from business day further stated that; with the increasing rate of employment, insufficient income and declining purchasing power, Nigerians will have no choice but to relocate to smaller housing units in 2019. However, Industry experts believe that co-working spaces are the direction to which commercial office sub-sector players are likely projecting towards.

The first co-working space in Nigeria under the brand name LitCaf was opened in March 2013. LitCaf was opened as a hub for writers and still runs as a hub for writers till date. LitCaf is situated in Yaba in the city of Lagos. It provides an avenue for professionals and business owners to network on a daily basis. Students and researchers also use the hub to study for their exams and research. It offers its users a cool working environment, excellent coffee and fast Wi-Fi.

LitCaf opens at 8am and closes at 9pm every day, including Saturdays and Sundays. On Sundays, they open at 1pm and close at 9pm.

Who uses co-working spaces?

Although anybody can use a co-working space, its most common users are; self-employed persons, telecommuters and freelance workers that might be; web or graphic designers, web developers, app developers, writers, editors and programmers.

Some students also make use of co-working spaces during their project year to help them concentrate on their research in a quiet work environment.

Some startup businesses use co-working spaces to provide their employees with a work environment since they can’t afford to rent or own a building of their own at the time.

In large companies and enterprises, there are a large number of employees working at any given time. In situations where all the offices in their company are occupied and until they are able to expand the company’s building, rent or buy an additional building, they use co-working spaces to provide the employees with a workspace. In these cases, the company may maintain a particular number of employees to the make use of the co-working service.

What else does a co-working space provide?

1. Paid conference and board rooms

Co-working spaces provides a conducive environment for board room meetings and conferences. These rooms are usually equipped with air conditioners, projectors, notepads and other stationaries.

2. Wi-Fi

The co-working space providers understand the need for users of the space to have access to fast internet. To this effect, they have an internet connection that can serve multiple numbers of people at the same time.

3. Kitchens and lunchroom or cafeteria

You can’t possibly go all day working without food. Big co-working spaces usually add a kitchen and lunchroom or cafeteria to their building to ensure that those who come for paid conference spaces or to work do not have to go a far distance to get food to eat.

4. Communal printers and photocopying machines

Workers need to always print and make multiple copies of important documents. Co-working space providers understand this; they provide the printers and photocopying machines to ensure the work environment is conducive enough for all to work.

Types of co-working spaces

1. Minimal spaces

This type of co-working spaces is usually cheaper and a lot quieter since they house small number of persons with no extra features. They offer Wi-Fi, a desk and coffee. They are run by a manager who may also be a co-worker. The minimal spaces usually grow into a conventional workspace once the building experiences some sort of expansion and more people begin to use their services.

2. Conventional spaces

Among the types of co-working spaces, these are the most popular. They usually target freelancers, remote workers and startups that are in need of a flexible work environment. And they offer desks or offices for rent on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.

3. Niche spaces

These types of co-working spaces target a specific market and bring together the innovators in the targeted market. Niche spaces usually include mentorship and training schemes. An example is The Food Loft in Boston which focuses on the food and hospitality industry and Full Node in Berlin which focuses on a cryptocurrency co-working space.

4. High-end spaces

These spaces are usually large and found in exclusive city locations. They are very expensive and offer very beautiful and professionally designed spaces with a large range of amenities. These spaces may target a niche market due to their largeness. High-end spaces are run by a professional community team which focuses on helping their members grow their business to ensure they succeed. They may also offer mentorship schemes, incubator programs and industry-wide networking opportunities.

5. Nomadic spaces

These types of co-working spaces usually combine co-working with another service. They are often found in diverse and non-conventional locations. An example is coffee shops; where you can buy a hot cup of coffee and plug in your laptop to work for a few hours. Some restaurants, hotels and libraries have adopted this method of providing co-working spaces. Users are usually offered a source of power and accessible Wi-Fi.

6. Corporate spaces

Some established companies and businesses are setting up their own co-working space to help them keep up with trends and collaborate with the startup community. Example is the platoon 12 innovation hub opened by Bosch on the top floor of its research campus near Stuttgart, Germany which was later extended to Chicago in partnership with tech and entrepreneur center after a month.

Advantages of Co-Working

1. Motivation

The energy of productivity in the air when you are in a room full of people who are driven to achieve greatness keeps you motivated. You would find yourself procrastinating less and finishing your daily tasks early.

2. Networking

Being around people who have common goals opens new doors for you. After a period of time, new opportunities start to flow, and you start to create lifelong connections.

3. Flexibility

Instead of going to rent a building or space for a year which is way over your budget, it is better to opt for a co-working space. You can strike flexible deals; payment can be made daily, weekly or monthly depending on your budget.

4. Get out of your home office

Working at home can be great if you are sure not to lose focus and motivation. But being around others is better. It keeps you alert and motivated enough to be productive.

Nigerians have adopted the use of co-working spaces in a way that never seemed possible in the past. In every state within the country, there is access to at least 5 co-working spaces. You do not want to be the only one ripping yourself off financially by paying huge amounts to rent a building for your small company that probably has just 3 employees. Find a co-workspace today and save yourself some cash as you network and open yourself and your business to new opportunities.