Shared workspaces are increasingly popular—and not just among startups. Established businesses and companies of all kinds are realizing the advantages of a shared workspace.
Many executives and business leaders, though, are still unaware of shared workspaces and how they can potentially help their companies save money and operate more efficiently.
If sharing an office building with other professionals sounds like something that might benefit you, read this guide to everything you need to know about shared workspaces.
A shared workspace is an office space that you or your company share with other businesses. This does not necessarily mean you are borrowing each other’s staplers, but it can mean you share a reception area and kitchen. While each particular shared workspace will vary in how it is structured and what it looks like will vary from place to place, the main concept behind these spaces is generally the same: shared workspaces offer businesses shared office space to save overhead costs, collaborate, work more efficiently, and share resources.
You may have heard of "coworking space," another type of shared space for working. Although they have much in common, shared workspaces and coworking spaces are not the same things.
Coworking spaces are geared toward startup companies, while shared workspaces are for more established businesses. Coworking spaces are also good for freelance workers who prefer not to work from home and are more like communities where you and other freelancers or startup entrepreneurs each do your work in a collective environment. Shared workspaces, on the other hand, have private offices and suits and more resemble traditional office environments.
There are four types of shared workspaces:
- Physical collaborative workspaces
- Physical shared workspaces
- Virtual collaborative workspaces
- Virtual shared workspaces
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Physical Collaborative Workspaces
Many shared office spaces include shared kitchens and conference rooms (such as WeWork offices). These amenities are great and very valuable to business owners. However, if you share a kitchen or a conference room with other companies, you must make sure to clean up your mess and always leave things as good as how they were when you found them. Creating an environment of cleaning up after yourself is essential to a positive and productive shared workspace.
Physical shared workspaces are a great option for remote, part-time, or weekend workers. Many coworking companies offer offer physical shared workspaces that are very popular among professionals who do not need office space for a traditional 9-to-5. Whether you are a private lawyer who only occasionally needs office space to meet with new clients or a writer who just needs a private weekend getaway, physical shared workspaces can be a valuable place to work.
Virtual Collaborative Workspaces
Virtual collaborative workspaces are another increasingly popular option. With video chat and other real-time collaborative tools, it is no wonder that businesses are investing millions in adopting software and tools to communicate with employees around the world. These connective tools are powerful and can be used from literally anywhere, whether you are a freelancer, small business owner, or an employee of an international firm.
Virtual shared workspaces include software tools like Google Suite or Microsoft Teams, which allow you to work with others on projects from your own computer in real-time. Although these types of virtual shared workspaces make it easy for you to work with multiple team members, they are not strictly collaborative. They can also be very useful for the individual contractor to organize, create, and produce on their own time.
There are many benefits to having a shared workspace:
- Increased social connections
- Cost savings
- Enhanced productivity
- Amenities and services
Working in a small private office or from home can get lonely and leave you feeling unmotivated. A shared workspace, on the other hand, often provides a dynamic work environment that includes employees from multiple companies. Connecting with these people can not only help your mood and overall sense of wellbeing, but it may even benefit your business—especially if they are in the same industry. Many businesses are able to make some of their most important connections by simply reaching out to their shared workspace neighbors.
Saving money is one of the main reasons that business owners enjoy shared workspaces. Rather than having to pay all the expenses associated with setting up a fully functional office, all you need to pay for in a shared workspace is the office space used by you and your business and everything else is taken care of.
The saying goes that “iron sharpens iron.” This certainly applies to where you work. Being surrounded by other productive people in a bustling shared workplace is a highly effective way to ensure you stay energized and productive throughout the day. This is especially true when compared to working at home. When you work exclusively from a home office, your productivity can slip and motivation can disappear. Having a place to go where professional work is your exclusive goal is essential if you are trying to be highly productive.
Many shared workspaces offer you greater flexibility than other types of office spaces. This is not only true in terms of your rental agreement but also for expansion. Shared workspaces often have a number of offices available that you can snatch up as your company continues to grow. You may start out only needing one small office, but eventually, you could wind up with the whole floor!
Amenities and Services
High-end shared workspaces offer amenities like fully stocked kitchens, useful events, and lectures, as well as services like a reception or conference rooms. Even if your company is relatively new, a shared workspace can create a highly professional appearance.
Like any living situation, how much you enjoy your shared workspace depends partly on your neighbors. If the business in the office next to you is very loud or comprised of people making lots of sales calls, it can be distracting. Be sure to look into who your office neighbors are going to be before deciding on a shared workspace.
Lack of Control
If you own or rent your own private office, you can often paint the walls, change the décor, and generally make any kind of renovations you want. In a shared workspace, your options for such changes are more limited. You may have to get permission from your landlord to make anything other than the most minor of aesthetic changes.
Finding yourself in the same building as competitors can cause problems. Make sure you look into who the other tenants in your building are before deciding on a shared workspace.
Finding a shared workspace is usually not difficult. You can simply do a Google search for “shared workspaces” or use websites like ShareDesk and Regus Coworking. If you live in or near a metropolitan area, odds are, there are at least some shared workspaces available for you and your company. They are also great options if you are a freelancer looking to improve your productivity or give your business the legitimacy it needs when you are meeting with clients.
Shared workspaces require you to consider both your company's employees and those of your neighbor. This does not mean you need to invite them to your next corporate party, but you should, at least, abide by the following three, simple and hopefully common sense principles:
- Clean up your mess
- Use your indoor voice
- Practice the Golden Rule
1. Clean Up Your Mess
Many shared office spaces include shared kitchens and conference rooms. These amenities are great and very valuable to business owners. However, if you share a kitchen or a conference room with other companies, you must make sure to clean up your mess and always leave things as good as how they were when you found them. Creating an environment of cleaning up after yourself is essential to a positive and productive shared workspace.
2. Use Your Indoor Voice
Try to be considerate when making phone calls. You do not have to whisper or walk outside when making business calls (you are after all paying for the privilege to do so), but you should at least close the door to your office, avoid yelling, and try not to use profane language. You might not find yelling over the phone or cursing offensive, but your office neighbors or, worse, their clients may—it is important to remember that.
3. Practice the Golden Rule
In any kind of relationship, it is always essential to practice the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. So many issues and difficulties can be avoided if you simply follow this one rule.
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of shared workspaces and what they have to offer, you can make your decision about what is right for you and your company before you move forward and, finally, get to work!