As a blogger and freelance writer, I work from home, but have sometimes contemplated what it would be like to work in a shared office space. Because I live in Toronto’s east end and work from home, it’s not always a convenient location for meeting with clients or attending events downtown. There are also daily distractions at home such as dealing with maintenance and repair people, sunny days that beckon me to come and enjoy our backyard or being in a non-work environment. For freelancers or entrepreneurs, working in a shared office space can be a great solution. Here are some of the pros and cons of a shared office space.
Pros of a Shared Office Space
When working in a shared office, individual entrepreneurs get to spend more time with each other and get to know one another both professionally and personally. It is the ideal space for people to network. As a blogger, I often require outside services such as IT specialists, photographers or graphic artists. Working in a shared office space gives you access to a wide variety of expertise from individual entrepreneurs working in the same environment. You no longer have to take a chance with contractors that you don’t know.
One of the biggest drawbacks of working from home is not having a professional meeting space to meet with clients. Instead of arranging meetings at Starbucks, a shared office space will provide meeting rooms that you will usually have access to for a limited number of hours per month. Having a state of the art meeting room like the ones at Agileoffices will increase your confidence when meeting with prospective clients.
Sharing an office creates a sense of community among entrepreneurs because they get to interact with other entrepreneurs. This interaction is synergistic, promotes a collective enthusiasm towards one’s goals, and encourages the growth of new ideas.
Amenities and Benefits
When renting office space, you will typically receive a dedicated desk, use of meeting room facilities, studios, kitchen, coffee bar, a dedicated mailbox and security services, all of the office features that you are lacking at home…well, except for the kitchen!
Cons of a Shared Office Space
If you are working from home, you probably have either a room or part of a room devoted to your office area. If you are using one room solely for business purposes, you might even be able to deduct a portion of your monthly mortgage rate or rent as a business expense on your income tax return. Shared office space, while much more affordable than leasing an individual office, will still set you back anywhere from $200 and up per month for a shared office space with a dedicated desk for several days a month. A private mailbox can cost you an additional $50 per month.
Lack of privacy
Probably the biggest disadvantage of sharing an office is the lack of privacy. This could be somewhat of an impediment for some people because it could affect their work abilities. Dealing with the lack of privacy takes some getting used to and it can certainly improve with time, but it is something that will always be there in a shared office. Of course, depending on what your home office situation is like, you may be experiencing a lack of privacy already.
Freelancers or entrepreneurs may feel more stress simply because they are sharing their work area with other individuals. Working in a place where there is constant talking and movement could prove to be difficult for some people. It reminds me of when I was a mature student at the University of Toronto and working at one of the lounges where fellow students drank coffee or talked to their friends while working on their essays. I was initially unable to work in those lounges, but after a few months, I got used to it. While some people may overcome their inability to work in a busy environment entirely, others may not get used to the external noise, leaving them with more stress.
Lack of Customization
Working in a shared office means that entrepreneurs are limited in their ability to make their workspace their own. Customization must be kept to a minimum and it must be approved by all the people sharing the office, which usually leads to a lengthy process. With only limited options available, people may have to get used to working in a generic setting.
With both pros and cons to consider before renting shared office space, this type of environment must be analyzed according to your individual needs. It can be, however, a far more affordable and comfortable option when compared to home offices.