The shared office space model is exploding. The good news is – you have a host of options. The bad news is – with trendy new solutions cropping up every day, it can be difficult to figure out what type of shared office space will work best for your business.
Coworking is one of the newest trends in the market enabling companies to rent office space on a month-to-month basis to fill the gap between having a home or virtual office and leasing commercial space.
It’s important to understand that coworking is just one of the flexible solutions available to startups, SMB’s and freelancers. Many companies opt for office sharing with our site either as an alternative to coworking, or as a next step after coworking stops working. We want to help you understand the pros and cons of all your options so you can make the most informed decision for your business.
Office space is the second highest expense your business faces after head count— it pays to think strategically.
So how do you know if coworking is the right choice for your business? Here are some pointers to help you decide.
Coworking may be right for your company if…
#1: You’re in the early stages and need to save money. Startups, small business and freelancers may not want to invest their capital in long-term leases—understandably. Between monthly rent and hefty security deposits, it’s a lot to swallow. Coworking is an affordable way to obtain professional office space until you are ready to graduate to your own location. By renting office space on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis, you can save money and set up shop without a long-term commitment. Plus, you’ll get access to basic office amenities like internet access, printers and conference rooms as part of your rental. However, there will come a time when you outgrow your coworking space. If your business is growing rapidly, your team dynamic is expanding, and you’re becoming more established in your market, you may want to explore a different office sharing solution.
#2: You have a small team. Coworking works great for one or two person teams who can prosper in open workspaces. You can rent desk space on an as needed basis, obtain a desirable address and have access to a professional space for team or client meetings. It’s great for small business owners, telecommuters and freelancers who don’t like working in isolation and need the ebb and flow of an office bustling with people. But as your team grows, coworking becomes more challenging. For example, having team meetings in open workspaces can be disruptive to other coworkers and ultimately lead to an unproductive working environment.
#3: You have very specific short-term needs. Coworking locations thrive on non-commitment. This kind of flexibility works best for businesses that aren’t quite sure where they are going to end up. To that end, coworking spaces often sell memberships where you can purchase yearly, monthly, daily or even drop in passes. You can also add or decrease seats at will. As a result, the environment and people are always changing. If the hustle and bustle of coworking environments inspires you to perform, then this is the right choice. But if you’re looking for stability and prefer to see the same friendly faces, coworking may not be right for you.
#4: You don’t need any customization. If you’re looking for a simple, one-size fits all solution and are less concerned about personalizing your workspace or developing your own company culture, become a coworker. Coworking spaces maintain their own culture and community that is focused on welcoming new businesses, not necessarily building yours. Therefore, you can “post no bills.” Remember, you are simply renting space, not setting up your own office. It’s a temporary solution that prepares you for when you have more clients, more employees and need a space to call your own. When customization and laying down some roots becomes a priority, many companies opt to graduate to office sharing with PivotDesk.
#5: Your focus is on collaboration and networking. If you want to meet people who share the same goals and challenges, you’ll find them at coworking locations. You’ll instantly gain a network for people that you can collaborate with and seek advice. Oftentimes, there are coworking events to build community too. Your neighbors could be a cross-section of designers, developers, writers, salespeople, freelancers, telecommuters and independent business owners. More than likely, they won’t be in your industry, but you may be able to create synergies or trade resources, maybe even hire people.
On the flip side, other companies will have access to your best employee pool too so be mindful that the culture of a coworking space is about non-commitment and flexibility. That sentiment may inadvertently spread to your staff, and the constant distractions from coworking events may even stunt productivity. While many startups are hesitant to leave the coworking scene for fear of losing easy access to networking, they are often surprised that office sharing provides opportunities to collaborate as well—and that these opportunities are actually more tailored to their specific interests.
#6: You don’t require too much privacy – yet. The collaborative nature of coworking means you are often in open working spaces, freely sharing ideas and resources. The result is a general lack of privacy. Note that this much openness gives other companies insight into your company’s plans. Not only can you see what they are up to, they can see what you are up to as well. Simple things like making private phone calls can also be difficult in an open work environment. Check to see if they have private phone booths and how available conference rooms are for private phone calls, or client and team meetings. While most coworking spaces make break-out space available, if you’re thinking of holding your weekly all-hands meeting at 10am on a Monday, chances are, everyone else is too.
#7: Security is not that important – right now. This means cyber security and physical security. Remember coworking spaces are flexible spaces where people can purchase drop-in or daily passes. Therefore, it might not be entirely safe to leave your stuff hanging around. Stuff includes your computer equipment, paperwork and even your whiteboard musings. If you travel light, this may not be a worry, but if you don’t want to carry your business around in your bag each day, then you’ll have to give coworking a second thought. Be sure to inquire about security measures at whichever coworking spaces you tour.
#8: You are good at handling conflicts and mediation. In any work environment, there might be a few disputes. You may already have a process to mediate internal situations between your own employees, but how do you mediate conflicts between other companies and your staff? Check to see if the coworking space has a conflict resolution plan. You’ll want to quash disputes quickly so that things don’t fester and disrupt your business.
In sum, coworking is perfect for smaller businesses or independent business owners that need a temporary place to house their companies. However, coworking only works up to a certain point. When your team starts to expand, and you become more focused on building your own culture, you may want to secure your own office space by exploring the next level of office sharing with PivotDesk. We can help you achieve the same level of flexibility and scalability when you’re ready for an office space to call your own minus, the long term commitment.
The modern workplace is changing fast...
Are you keeping up?