Sharing a business space with another startup can be great for a collaborative entrepreneur. Once viewed as a new way of running a business, operating out of a shared workspace has become increasingly common every year. Research shows that the number of coworking spaces is set to reach almost 20,000 this year and may surpass 40,000 by 2024. It is estimated that nearly 5 million people will be using shared workspaces by 2024.
However, while this option is a good fit for many businesses, it isn't the right model for everyone. Before committing to a shared workspace, examine all of the pros and cons.
What is a shared working space?
A shared working space, or a coworking space, offers affordable office space for businesses that don't require a ton of real estate. Shared working spaces give businesses the ability to lease a single desk, office, or a couple of offices without needing to shell out significant funds for a whole suite. While each business has a dedicated space – whether that be an office or a single desk – they also have access to common amenities that are found in other types of workplaces, such as private meeting rooms, larger conference rooms and kitchens.
These spaces primarily cater to small businesses, freelancers and startups that don't have many people working together. Shared working spaces are meant to help the founders and leaders of these small businesses find connections and work with each other to enhance their output.
How do coworking spaces work?
Coworking spaces traditionally use a membership model, with options for daily or monthly fees. These costs vary depending on the type of space you want to use: an office, a shared desk or a desk dedicated to you. Coworking spaces often provide meeting rooms and will usually rent those spaces for company meetings, presentations, lectures and conferences.
Benefits of coworking spaces
They provide a sense of community.
Being part of a shared business space often provides a sense of community, as you are surrounded by other entrepreneurs who have similar experiences. This means there is a built-in network of people for you to bounce ideas off of and who understand any challenges you may face.
They allow support for technical challenges.
Some common difficulties of a shared working space involve issues with technology. If you are having the same problems as another team, you will be able to swap insights to solve these technical challenges.
They encourage creativity.
Oftentimes, people are better able to generate ideas when surrounded by new faces with different perspectives. This makes shared workspaces conducive to creativity and innovation. In contrast, home offices can be isolating and restrictive to an employee's creative juices.
They offer flexibility and cost savings.
A shared workspace is often less expensive than a traditional office space. And by providing the option of which teams you can work with in this space, it allows you to pair up with a startup that can benefit your business and vice versa. You will also likely meet with startups that you can barter with for goods or services, gaining early access, discounts and other promotions from them.
They supply networking opportunities.
When startups come together in a workspace, there are unlimited opportunities to meet and network with experts in a variety of industries. The company you share your office space with could also provide you with connections that will benefit you. For instance, should you need a new graphic designer, you are more likely to get a reliable recommendation from an office mate.
They can increase productivity.
Coworking spaces provide high-end amenities for their clients, as well as useful resources and thoughtful workplace designs. Because many people work differently, most coworking spaces offer a variety of settings to choose from so that each person can find what makes them the most comfortable and productive. Being surrounded by other professionals also builds a sense of community and increases motivation. That will help with productivity.
They promote work-life balance.
Coworking spaces provide a space for their members that is dedicated exclusively to work. This makes it easier to be productive while you are there and separate it from your home life. When working from home, it is more difficult to avoid distractions, which might make you feel unable to separate work from your other responsibilities.
Drawbacks of coworking spaces
They can be distracting.
While sharing office space with other startups can often be a good experience, it is easy to get distracted by their presence and become unproductive. It is important to determine the best environment for every function. For example, shared workspaces might be great for team meetings and other collaborative tasks, but they are not conducive to independent duties.
It may be harder to define your culture.
The largest drawback when it comes to sharing a workspace with a separate startup is defining your business's culture. The other team in your space may not subscribe to the same cultural values, which can make employees self-conscious.
You have less privacy.
Sharing a workspace with others from outside companies does limit the amount of privacy you have. It is more difficult to have confidential phone calls with clients or to keep private information protected. If your competitors are occupying the same coworking space as you, you may feel vulnerable.
They lack IT support.
When working outside of a well-connected corporate office, you might have greater technological needs. Without a designated IT department, you might run into problems when encountering challenges such as slow internet, hardware malfunctions, and not being able to access necessary equipment. There is also no designated team to go to when you face a technical emergency.
Scott Gerber contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.