Thanks to the issues at WeWork, co-working space has been in the news a great deal. However, regardless of what you might be reading in the financial pages, co-working is not new. It goes well beyond WeWork. And it could be the right solution for your business.
Shared Office Space
Believe it or not, if your business is in a multi-tenant building, you are in a type of co-working environment. By being in a multi-tenant building, you get the benefit of shared common areas like lobbies, shared amenities like elevators and multi-person restrooms, and all of the features that come in multi-tenant buildings. You are also part of a community in the building where you can do business with co-tenants. In addition, since you are in a multi-tenant building, there is probably some space that you could take if you needed to grow. On the other hand, if you need to shrink your space, the landlord takes the hit from that vacancy once your lease expires.
A co-working space represents one or two steps further. In a co-working space, you share just about everything. Typically, office equipment, break areas and even small conference rooms are shared. Usually, the space also comes with at least a baseline level of support -- like a front desk employee to greet and direct guests. This means that you get a floor -- or a building -- worth of amenities that you share with other tenants.
Sharing carries a down side, though. In a traditional co-working space, you could end up with an unassigned desk in an open floor. If you opt for a private off, it might be a simple, service room. The floor might be be expansive, but your space might be tight.
Why -- Or Why Not -- Choose Co-Working?
Interestingly, most of co-working's benefits are the same things as its drawbacks. A co-working location gives you company access to a full-service office with amenities that many organizations would be afraid to dream of. You get flexibility and the ability (space permitting) to add or subtract workspaces with little or no notice. Frequently, you even receive a membership that allows you to use spaces across the country -- or the globe -- when your business takes you elsewhere.
At the same time, you don't own or control your space. The amenities, staff, equipment, and even the conference room furniture is provided to you on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. You might also find it hard to create you own culture as you find yourself in close proximity to other companies and in competition with the culture that the space itself creates.
Co-working spaces are cheap. And they're expensive. If you need a desk for an outpost with one or two people that might be gone in a year, they are significantly more affordable than leasing, building, equipping and staffing an office. For a full scale office, though, you might find it less expensive to get your own space.
Ultimately, co-working spaces like WeWork, Industrious and other concepts are another tool in your arsenal of commercial real estate solutions to business problems. They might not be the right choice for every location in your company's network, but they can be an excellent way to try out a market, handle changing head-counts, build an outpost or wait for the completion of a traditional location. As with all of your business's commercial real estate decisions, a qualified tenant representative can help you identify the right kind of space to target for your specific application.
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