Forward-thinking small businesses across the globe are considering using a shared office space, where multiple companies work in the same physical environment, as a great way to reduce costs and increase flexibility. A recent survey found that communal office spaces increased by 36 percent in 2015, totaling 7,800 co-working environments worldwide.
As the trend continues to grow, utilizing a shared office space may be a viable option for small business owners focused on stretching their budgets and boosting their working capital. Not only does sharing a workspace help cut down operating costs, it also saves precious time by providing a work-ready, sufficiently equipped environment for a budding business.
But of course, using a shared office spaces comes with its positives and negatives. Before you decide to join the movement, take a close look at the pros and cons to better determine whether a communal work environment is really right for your needs.
- Low overhead. Most shared office space opportunities offer essential services such as Wi-Fi access, printing facilities and phone services in addition to bill and utility management. Businesses can also benefit from modern ergonomic furnishings that might otherwise prove costly.
- Intercompany collaboration. Sharing a workplace is the perfect opportunity to meet, interact and collaborate with employees at other businesses utilizing the space. Alon Alroy, co-founder and CMO of the event management platform Bizzabo, told Business News Daily that he thinks the community offered by co-working environments is a resource that small business owners should be keen to take advantage of. Through meetups, seminars and day-to-day interaction, a diversity of voices can foster creative thought and novel ideas.
- Flexible, short leases. Renting a shared office space allows you to utilize the resource by the day, month or year based on your needs. You can take advantage of this flexibility over private leases to better map your budget or plans for growth.
- Lack of control. If you’re sharing space, be prepared to put up with discomfort — a messy kitchen, some cramping for space or a thermostat set to a just-too-high temperature. Since the space is only partly yours, you won’t always have total control over how it’s utilized and maintained.
- Distractions and conflicts. The workers sharing your space may occasionally get in the way of you or your employees. You may be sitting next to a salesperson making cold calls all day or be distracted by noises coming from a nearby meeting room. Conflicts may arise when personalities, work styles and goals clash.
- Lack of stability. Due to short-term leases, you’ll see a lot of other tenants come and go, and you and your team will have to cope with those changes. Low profit margins may even result in owner or management turnover, and your business may have to move elsewhere.
If your aim is to save costs and maximize working capital, office sharing may be a great option for you. And if you like the prospect of networking and collaborating as your business grows, a communal workspace could prove ideal. Just be sure you’re comfortable with the potential downsides as you decide whether a shared office space is the right choice for your company’s needs.
Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.