Business

Working Together: Pros and Cons of Shared Office Space

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Shared office spaces can be a happy medium for entrepreneurs who don’t necessarily want to work in a big office environment but who might not be cut out for working from home everyday. Whether you’re flying solo or launching a startup with some friends, shared office spaces have the potential to provide you, the brilliant entrepreneur that you are, with the best of both worlds.

Shared office spaces, sometimes also referred to as business incubators, have the potential to really help grow your entrepreneurial company. These working environments offer a built in business network by putting creative, innovative people who are working on a variety of exciting projects together in one room. In some cases they also foster small business growth and development by offering business development support, resources and services to you and your startup.

But there are also some things to be aware of before you sign up for a communal office environment. Here are some pros and cons of working in a shared office space.

The GOOD

Maintain independence: Shared office spaces often appeal to people who are leaving a big firm to start their own business. With a shared office space, you won’t have a supervisor breathing down your neck. You have more flexibility in creating your own work schedule.

One way to gain this independence is by becoming a freelancer. Remember that whenever you start a new project, it’s important to create an independent contractor agreement which helps protect you and the people you’re doing work for, by clarifying all of the expectations.

Create structure and community:  If you’re a freelancer or working with a friend to launch your own startup, many of your working hours might be spent at a coffee shop or in your home. Coming together with other creative types in a shared office space not only provides structure but it also gives you a sense of community.  It also affords you the opportunity to share ideas and network with other people in your industry.

Cost effective: City living isn’t cheap. Often, the creative, innovative, or entrepreneurial among us wind up in big cities. Unfortunately, living in a big city usually comes with a big price tag. And if you are looking to jumpstart your new business or branch out on your own, paying for your own office space in a metropolis often isn’t a viable option.

Shared office spaces help bridge that gap by offering affordable options.  One way to go about doing this is by joining forces with other entrepreneurs to lease your own commercial space as a way to keep costs down for everyone. Another way is to keep costs down is to join an already existing co-working space like Citizen Space.

The BAD

Peace and quiet: Some people perform best when there are no other distractions or people around. For those people, shared office spaces probably aren’t the best option. If you are looking to take your new startup or small business to a shared office space, consider what kind of working environment is best for you and your employees.

It is also important to think about what kind of work you will be doing and whether or not it is conducive to a shared working space. Some ideas are best kept behind closed doors, at least initially. What if you’re dreaming up the next great iPhone app and one of your office-mates overhears your genius idea and takes it for his own? Protecting your ideas and other intellectual property issues could make working in a communal office space tricky, depending on your business.

Playing nice: Not everyone is a people person. It’s true that in almost every working environment there are going to be personalities that just don’t get along. This can be especially true in a shared working space when people from different backgrounds and different companies are suddenly sharing the same space. Take into account the personality of the people you’ll be working with before you make the decision to move your start-up to a shared office space.

Private spaces: Some people just like their own space. They prefer their own cubicle or an office with a door, compared to an open floor plan. Shared office spaces can be too cramped and crowded for the taste of some. Consider your working style and whether you need well-defined personal space to feel comfortable.

If you decide to join a shared office space after considering the pros and cons, remember that there are a few legal considerations to keep top of mind too. For example, if you are going to be renting a small working space from a larger company, think about getting a sublease to make sure that you are protected as a tenant of that space. Or if you want to work at an established business incubator, they will undoubtedly have a contract for you to sign. Be sure to read that contract carefully to ensure that it aligns with your business needs and personal preferences. If you ever have questions about leases or other agreements, it’s always smart to get a lawyer’s help before you sign on the dotted line.

Sharing an office space with other entrepreneurs and startups can have many positive benefits. That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best option for everyone. Think about the special needs of your next project and decide what’s best for you.

About Mary Schmidt

Mary is a recent graduate of San Francisco State where she received her B.A. in international relations. Mary brings a love of writing, an interest in all things legal, and a background in civic engagement to the Rocket Lawyer team. Outside of work she spends her free time kicking around a soccer ball, eating copious amounts of Mexican food, and enjoying all that the bay area has to offer.
Posted in: Business, Commercial Real Estate
COMMENTS
  1. Evans says:
    February 19, 2013 at 11:13 am

    I think me the lack of peace of quiet would be an issue but if the office had a meeting room that you could book out for “quiet time” then than would be a good work around. Other than that I like the idea of shared office space as it could make a one man company feel more like a real business, which is extremely important to clients.

  2. Chago Davis says:
    March 31, 2013 at 1:28 am

    This may be a good option considering sometimes clients prefer to meet you in a different location. Considering, I perform web and graphics work it can be a bit much meeting people in a coffee shop that has music that’s too loud, or somewhere the wifi signal is dropping etc.

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