Shared Office Space, or “Coworking,” is on the rise across America! Where five years ago the idea of many different companies sharing the same space to do work was unheard of, today there are more than 500 Coworking Centers in operation. Born out of the desire (and need) to save money, coworking relies on the sharing of services, business resources such as digital copiers and color printers, internet LAN & gateway infrastructure, and most importantly – Space.
Close relatives to coworking are Serviced Offices, Managed Offices, Hot Desking, and Virtual Offices; all of which share officing components, including space, but none of these other office space mutations share the workspace at the same time.
By definition, a coworking environment consists of a conglomeration of people, working for different organizations, at the SAME TIME, in the SAME SPACE.
Coworking spaces can typically be rented for a very reasonable rate for the day, or one can “join” the coworking center and pay a much more economical monthly rate. Most also offer use of their mailing address; and some offer live answering services for an additional fee.
There are several advantages to using this form of shared office space, especially for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, and startups:
The first and most obvious reason to use coworking space is the cost. The cost of renting a private office can be prohibitive for many startups, but a shared office space gives many of the benefits of an office without the cost.
The very nature of coworking means that there are a large variety of professionals from the local area that you might not have met otherwise. Working in a shared office space is a great opportunity to meet new people and network with those in industries aside from your own.
Brainstorming and creativity
Since people who work in a shared office environment come from a diverse background of educations and industry, shared offices are a natural space for creativity to thrive. Many coworking spaces offer a “brainstorming hour”, and the variety in background ensures that you’ll hear some new angles or ideas that you hadn’t thought of before.
Credibility for startups
What does one do when their company is too big to be run out of their house, but too small to justify renting their own dedicated office? A shared office space is a perfect compromise. It gives companies the credibility of having an actual office without the cost that could break a startup’s budget.
Sense of community and support
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely path, with family and friends not understanding why you chose a seemingly high-stress alternative to a “regular” job. Coworking immediately puts you in an environment with other like-minded people who understand why you chose to work for yourself or start a business, and can sympathize with the challenges that you face.
Opportunities to attend workshops and events
Many shared office spaces offer workshops or events, exclusively for coworking members. These are a great opportunity to educate yourself and learn a new perspective. The events also give coworkers a chance to meet new people, have some fun, and take a break from all the hard work!
There are even more advantages of using coworking for the Fortune 1000 business or “enterprise” user. Our next article will articulate these unique benefits to big business.