Shared Office Spaces

When my company, Consultants 2 Go, moved into a shared office space, around 2004, it made perfect sense for us.  Today, we are still in the same shared space but if we had to move, we would have to give it more thought.  We are located in an incubator on the campus of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT.)  We could not find a better space as we are mostly a virtual company that only needs enough space for interviewing, meetings, training and any other in-person activity that is not ongoing.

What are the benefits of shared office space?

There were, and still are, multiple benefits for us:

  • There are many more options for sharing.  You can rent a cubicle for a day, an office for 6 months, or just book a conference room.  I think of it as an office-in-demand concept.  You didn’t previously have those options when renting.
  • We rented the exact amount of space we needed at less than half of what we would pay for rent, per square footage, in a ‘regular’ office space.  The going rates for shared spaces like WeWork are exorbitant compared to an incubator.
  • We network with other companies that are in our incubator – this is an excellent benefit of a shared space.  For some business owners, they can collaborate on projects. We are in a biotech incubator, so there are opportunities among the biotech tenants.  Most shared spaces also have regular networking events with an invited speaker.
  • We have access to all the shared facilities with conference rooms of different sizes.  In our case, because we are a college campus, access extends to the students for hire, their technology, the library, free parking and cafeteria.
  • Because of the prevalence of share office spaces now, you can pick a location that is convenient for you and your business – close to a train line, for example. We are still located in Newark, NJ where rent is still less expensive than New York City.  We do have easy access to trains and commuting is similar to NYC.

What are the downsides?

  • You have to go a little outside of the city for the more reasonably priced shared space options. Because of the popularity of these places, rent has escalated in the past few years.
  • It is difficult to have conversations in such close quarters.  When there are more than 4 people in the office, it becomes difficult to hear yourself on the phone.  Sometimes, we stand in the hallway or book a conference room if we have a confidential conversation.
  • We sell to corporations so there is little chance of “running into clients.”

When and why do they work for small business owners? How could they help you scale your business?

  • It works for business owners who can start with a small space and increase the square footage based on their needs.  For example, you can start in a cubicle and grow to have the entire floor.  It helps you control your overhead costs.
  • You do not have to invest in depreciating equipment like a fax/copier machine.
  • You do not have to be tied to a long-term lease.  A business owner can use those spaces on an as-needed basis.

The best tip for getting the most from a shared office space?

Understand your needs and find a place that allows you to scale up or down.  Scaling is important.  In times of a down economy where you might have to lay off employees, you will not be adversely penalized on your rent if you downsize, and vice-versa.