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The Pros and Cons of Working in a Shared Office Space

As a startup founder, you most likely have already thought about it or will soon have to think about office space. Wondering if you should you share office space or lease one on your own? An increasing number of companies are joining coworking communities – DCN included- we created a shared office with three cannabis startups. What was once seen as a freelancer’s domain has quickly become a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

It should come as no surprise that cannabis startups are also turning to coworking at increasing rates. But does that mean shared office space is right for your startup?

In this article, we’ll outline the unique pros and cons of shared office space. As you search for the perfect space to scale your startup, use this article to guide your decision-making.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Shared Office Space?

An estimated 754,000 people in the United States will join a coworking community in 2019. Before joining a shared office space, consider the following:

The Disadvantages of Shared Office Space

1. Distractions
On any given day, as a startup founder, you are tasked with initiating sales calls, discussing product road-maps with developers, preparing for a presentation to potential investors, and more. You have little to no time to socialize and zero tolerance for distractions. Can you guarantee your fellow coworkers will be in the same frame of mind? Probably not. Everyone has light days and heavier days work-wise, and you can’t tell the group in the lounge to “lower their voices,” any more than you can throw your desk neighbor’s cell phone against the wall.

Of course, you could minimize loud distractions by renting a private office. But noise travels, and you may still encounter a fair amount of distractions when forced to interact with others behind the door. Whether you’re grabbing a coffee in the kitchen, walking to the bathroom, or receiving a knock from a fellow coworker, you’re likely to run into people and conversations that seem more interesting than your to-do list. The bottom line: Since coworking spaces feel less structured than traditional offices, drawing the line between work and socializing may sometimes prove challenging for you and your team.

2. Competitors in Close Proximity
Most startups experience some level of competition. This can be a good thing — it proves that your idea is valuable. However, that doesn’t mean you want them nearby as you make important decisions. In an open seating culture, there is always the possibility of speaking around those you’d rather not have hear you! It may be best to remind yourself and your team members to reserve specific conversations for private conference rooms.

3. Lack of Customization
One of the coolest aspects of having your own privately leased office is branding it. The furniture, the walls, and even the lighting can all be customized to represent your companies brand and your unique personal preferences. When it comes to decor, shared workspaces vary significantly from chic to “Office Max.”

Generally speaking, the more you’re willing to pay, the more aesthetically pleasing space you will get. With that said, just because a space is well-designed, it doesn’t mean it’s really you. It can feel like working in a snazzy hotel lounge that quietly reminds you the place isn’t really yours whenever you have ideas of things you’d like to change.

4. Culture and Values Transform
For any growing startup, it’s essential to cultivate a unique company culture. This company culture represents the heart and spirit of your startup. In the shared office environment, your company’s culture might transform to match the culture of the workplace. Before committing in a shared office space, consider the values and beliefs that the space follows or adheres to. Do these values align with your startup’s culture? If not, it might be difficult to find common ground with members.

The Advantages of Shared Office Space

1. Flexibility
The most obvious benefit of shared office space is the flexibility that it provides in three different areas:

Flexible Cost Options: With no upfront fees, no deposits, and a variety of option plans, coworking provides founders with a valuable opportunity for keeping costs low.

Flexible Plan Options: With coworking, there are typically no year-long lease requirements. Prime placement, private desks, and private office memberships are all offered on a month-to-month basis.

Flexible Space Options: Increase your team count by three people overnight? You can probably switch to a private office rather quickly. Want to ditch your private desk for a hot seating pass since you’re not around as often as you thought you would be? No problem.

Not sure how much cash your startup will have three months from now? The overall flexibility provided by coworking can provide extraordinary peace of mind, compared to the responsibility of a typical lease.

2. Opportunities to Network With Startup Founders
Building a startup can get lonely sometimes. No matter the phase of growth, there are always new things to learn, do, and evaluate. Surrounding yourself with other entrepreneurs can help take the edge off when things get rough — especially if those individuals are also working in the tech space.

The best-shared office spaces host plenty of events for learning, mingling, and networking from fellow cohorts. Whether that be in the form of educational workshops, guest speaker events or happy hours —situating yourself in a workspace where you can’t help but meet other entrepreneurs could make the difference for your startup. Working alongside like-minded people will help your startup grow.

3. Greater Access to Key Players and Partnerships
Another advantage of working in a coworking space? You’ll have enhanced access to key players who can help your business grow.

Congregate in one space with a lot of other startups, and you’ll be more likely to attract the attention of angel investors and VCs looking for new opportunities. As an added benefit, you’ll be able to hit up networking events after powering down for the day.

4. Amenities and Services

When you lease a private space, you don’t always have the luxury of just showing up and getting to work. In most cases, you have to buy furniture, get an office phone, set up an account for gas, electric and water, order internet, and arrange for employee parking depending on your location.

Not only is there a lot to set-up initially, but there is also quite a bit to maintain. If the wireless goes down one day, you or your limited staff will waste valuable time troubleshooting. The advantage of coworking? You don’t have to do any of that stuff or hire someone to do it for you. In fact, most administrative and operational tasks are taken care of!

Top coworking spaces offer things like:

High-Speed WiFi
Complimentary Beverages
Free Printing and Scanning
Full Kitchenettes
Mail Distribution
Meeting Rooms
Onsite Support
Privacy Nooks

5. Educational Opportunities
Finally, shared office spaces provide a host of educational opportunities including hands-on programming, panel discussions, workshops and more. These valuable learning opportunities help startup founders tackle industry roadblocks, acquire new funding rounds, craft the perfect press release, and more.

To Share or not to Share?

We all remember the first time we moved out of our parent’s house or dorm rooms and into our own apartments. That feeling of adulting, knowing that we’d finally be able to do things our way. It’s no different for startups “graduating” into privately leased offices.

However, nothing is less freeing than wondering if you’re going to have enough cash for payroll eight months from now. Or troubleshooting building issues when you have capital to raise, deals to close, and marketing strategies to fine-tune. So, it’s essential to move forward with caution.

Most negative coworking experiences come from one of two things:

Providers who don’t invest in what matters most like privacy, productivity and networking.
Poor compatibility with other members.

Find a coworking space specifically designed for startups, and you’re less likely to encounter the kind of disruption you don’t want!

Final Thoughts

Coworking spaces are a great solution for entrepreneurs who want to be in the middle of the action without waiting for their businesses to grow. In fact, even large organizations are increasingly turning towards these public offices to accommodate their traveling employees or excess staff, who need their own space to carry out important projects.

If you are a budding entrepreneur, you may consider trying this option out to see how it makes your business thrive.

DCN’s List of Cannabis-Focused or Friendly Co-Working Space

Cultivated Synergy 
Paragon Space
LeafPost (Coming Soon to London)

Stay updated on the latest tech, startups and upcoming entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, click here.

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