Business Continuity Aspects of Using Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces have changed the way we work, as people look for more flexibility in lease terms and choose to work closer to home.

Often they don’t just provide workspace but also other supporting services such as mail handling, connectivity and telecommunications.

This has many benefits for businesses, particularly startups, who can scale by focusing on their core competencies.

However, losing control of these core business functions also brings significant continuity risks and with co-working spaces having suffered a tough time through COVID, some will not survive.  

This increasing threat of business disruption should undoubtedly be addressed in your business continuity plans. Here we discuss some key aspects of business continuity management.

Understanding Your Co-working Contract

Many co-working spaces operate on a license fee basis, which does not include many of the tenancy rights you would ordinarily have in a traditional lease.

The reward for this is the flexibility to scale up and down, or leave the space completely at short notice.

However, this also applies to the co-working provider who can change the terms, pricing and services at short notice.

Access to the ‘Your’ Space

The access control system for the building will be entirely controlled by the co-working provider, which means you could lose physical access at any time.

This could be due to an issue with the provider or something as simple as having an expiry date set on your access token.

To ensure work can continue if your not able to access ‘your’ space, especially if you store assets in the co-working space, you should implement a plan and prepare for assets to not be easily accessible. Paperwork can be scanned and stored on a cloud system and physical IT infrastructure could be remotely accessed to handle short-term availability issues.

Mail Handling Services 

Many co-working spaces offer members the use of their postal address and they may agree to handle mail at an additional fee.

The extent to which you plan for disruption to your physical mail service will depend on the importance of physical post to your business, but you should consider that the service can be withdrawn at any time.

If you do need to relocate your business address remember to update any references to the address which may appear on your website, search engine listings, directories, email signatures and letterheads.  

It may also be necessary to directly contact customers to prevent important mail from being disrupted.

Connectivity and Telecommunications

Internet connectivity and telecommunications services are often provided as part of your co-working membership.

With many organisations utilising cloud technologies, working from a different Internet connection may have a minimal impact.

However, if you have used ‘Source IP Address Restrictions’ when accessing services in the cloud, make sure that you have an alternative means of access should the connection provided by your coworking space become unavailable.

The telephone number provided by your co-working space could also be removed at any time.  One way to mitigate potential disruption is to engage a telecoms or VoIP provider directly and use that telephone number with your co-working space’s telephone system.   

This enables you to remotely redirect the published number to a new location at any time.

Exit Planning 

Co-working spaces generally do not plan for a day that they cease trading, and they are not obliged to protect any deposits in the same way a domestic tenant’s deposit is protected.

Therefore, it’s likely that should your coworking space go out of business there will be no provision for continuing your services, even if you have already paid fees for a month, quarter or year.  

With the absence of any contractual agreement to support your exit from a co-working space, it falls on your organisation to prepare for this as part of your business continuity planning. 

Take a Structured Approach to Business Continuity

While we promote international standards such as ISO 22301 for Business Continuity, you do not need to implement a full business continuity management system to protect your business.

Here are 5 things to consider: 

Business Impact Analysis 

Based on the “impact over time” which activities in your business are critical to its operation?

Risk Assessment

What could disrupt your business activities and how can you mitigate that?

Continuity Strategies

If a disruption occurs how can you continue doing business?

Plans and Procedures

Document the detailed information you might need during a disruption.

Recovery

After the disruption, how do you recover your business to resume normal operations?

Make your Business Resilient with Assent

Assent’s business continuity consultants can help you improve the resilience in your operations and maintain a business continuity plan that you can use during a disruption to minimise the impact.

We can also help you achieve internationally recognised ISO 22301 Certification through the implementation of a compliant business continuity management system.

Contact Us to discuss how we can help!

Robert Clements
Robert Clements
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