Is a shared office space right for your small business?

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 change?

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 looking to cut costs? Or are you working from home or from public spaces and looking for a more professional space to host clients and partners? 

The characteristics of shared office spaces that follow will apply differently depending on the answers to questions such as these, so it’s vital to lay out exactly what changes you would like to see for your business. 

Flexibility – more or less

One of the most attractive aspects of a shared office space is that most won’t require a long-term commitment, with memberships ranging from hot seats to private offices usually available month to month. 

Payment plans are often flexible, too, often not asking for deposits or upfront fees of any kind – depending on the space, of course. 

If your team might be changing in size very quickly, all of this means that you can move from a desk to an office with relatively short notice. 

Some aspects are less flexible, of course. Shared office spaces tend to have static operating hours, which can range from most of the day to your typical 9-5 – which 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 what your business needs from it.

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 amount to just your internet and electricity or your transportation. 

Still, your living space might not have enough room for your business anymore, and it’s less than ideal for hosting clients – and shared spaces usually offer meeting rooms.

As a way of downsizing, though, a shared office space works great, especially if your business doesn’t need all the space of a regular office.

Further, you don’t have to worry about fixing broken equipment or getting the Wi-Fi back up and running in a co-working space, so you can spend more time running your business. 

Shared spaces can also offer amenities such as printers – though anything they don’t have you’ll have to bring yourself, making notebooks and other portable office equipment 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 as well. 

Community vs. privacy

Especially as a startup, a shared office space allows you and your business to interact with other startups and entrepreneurs, which 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 amenities that help you decide when you want your business to interact with others.

Private offices and boardrooms are commonly available to rent for chunks of time, and 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 you feel your business needs and what local spaces can offer you in terms of events and private spaces. 

The verdict

It bears repeating that knowing your business’s goals is the most fundamental piece when considering a switch to a shared space. 

The final decision will depend on what the spaces around you have to offer your business, but if you keep these basic pros and cons in mind, it will help make sure your decision is the right one.

About the author:

Isaac is a recent convert to standing furniture and is a Director at 3WhiteHats.co.nz, an online marketing agency.

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