For the past several years, shared office spaces have grown steadily in popularity, with more than 14,000 such spaces serving nearly 1.2 million people, according to the latest Global Co-working Survey.
And why shouldn’t they be popular? Shared office spaces offer numerous benefits that neither a home office nor a traditional space can provide.
Still, it’s hard to know if jumping on this trend is the right move for your business – and this article will help you make that decision.
First of all, why are you considering a shared office space?
Your business’s goals are the most important metric by which to evaluate if a shared office space will be a step forward.
For example, is your business currently located in a traditional office and you’re looking to cut costs? Or are you working from home or from public spaces now and looking for a more professional space to host clients and partners?
The characteristics of the shared office spaces below will apply differently depending on the answers to these questions, so it’s vital to lay out exactly which changes you would like to see for your business first.
Flexibility – more or less
One of the most attractive aspects of a shared office space is that most don’t require a long-term commitment. Many memberships range from hot seats to private offices, and are usually available on a month to month basis.
Payment plans are often flexible, too, and many do not ask for deposits or upfront fees of any kind – this depending on the space, of course.
An added bonus is that if your team might be changing in size very quickly, this means that you can upgrade from a desk to an office with relatively short notice.
Some aspects are less flexible, of course. For example, one drawback of shared office spaces is that they tend to have static operating hours (usually the typical 9-5). This just won’t do if your business needs to operate at odd hours or for longer days.
Still, all of this depends on the space in question and your business needs.
Consider the costs
A shared office space can be a money-saver – but not for everyone.
If you’re working from home or public spaces (a cafe, for instance), your current overhead might be just your internet bill and electricity, or the cost of transportation.
Still, if your living space may not have enough room for your business anymore, or it’s less than ideal for hosting clients, a shared office space may be a good solution. Many shared spaces offer meeting rooms.
A shared office space can work great as a way of downsizing, too, if your business doesn’t need all the space of a regular office. Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about fixing broken equipment or getting the Wi-Fi back up and running in a co-working space. This lets you spend more time running your business.
Shared spaces offer lots of amenities, like printers, the cost of which is shared by other officemates. This does mean that you’ll have to bring yourself anything they don’t have, so notebooks and other portable office equipment are absolutely essential.
With all that mind, a shared space can be a good idea if you find that it can save you money on not just your workspace, but your other overhead costs as well.
Community vs. privacy
Especially for startups, a shared office space can allow you and your business to interact with other startups and entrepreneurs. This can reduce feelings of isolation and even serve as an inspiration to your business.
The other side to this is that you surrender a fair amount of privacy by sharing a space with other businesses. This could potentially lead to interpersonal conflicts – and of course, sometimes you don’t want your competitors in earshot when you talk business.
Still, many shared office spaces offer solutions that help you decide when you want your business to interact with others. For example, private offices and boardrooms are commonly available to rent for chunks of time, whereas networking and social events are often hosted, where you can get to know and learn from your cohorts.
So, once again, it’s all a matter of what your business needs and what local shared office spaces can offer you in terms of events and private spaces.
The verdict on shared office spaces
It bears repeating that knowing your business’s goals is the most fundamental piece of your decision to switch to a shared office space.
The final decision depends on what the spaces around you have to offer, but if you keep these basic pros and cons in mind, we hope it can help you make the right decision! And if you end up deciding to redo your home office, give us a call and we can help you get started.
This post was contributed by Isaac Church.