Should You Share an Office?

A traditional office rental or lease might be too costly for your start-up or young small business. If so, a practical, cost-effective alternative is to share office space. Consider the convenience of sharing space with related professionals – and the possibility of sharing referrals.

What to Share

Depending on your needs, you might benefit from sharing any number of elements, such as:
  • A reception space and waiting room
  • Conference room spaces
  • An administrative area – this could include a work area, office equipment and storage space
  • Employee pantry/kitchen space

Cost Sharing

The prime motivation for sharing office space is sharing costs. The key is to create a cost-effective alternative to leasing a traditional office. If you don’t really need a full-time receptionist, but wouldn’t mind paying for perhaps one-third or one-quarter of the salary and benefits, sharing an office might be right for you.
Splitting costs could be a simple matter of sharing the costs for everything evenly. Everyone would pay their share regardless of how much they use the facilities. Or you can create a formula that is based on either space occupied or how much each party uses the shared facilities.

Working With Your Co-Tenants

Decision-making is critical. Determine how you make group decisions on your shared space. If someone has signed the lease individually and sublets some of the space to others, that person is ultimately responsible. However, with the landlord’s approval, all tenants could sign on as primary tenants to share responsibility.

Built-in Referral Network

If you can share space with others in slightly different or complementary professions within your industry, you might be able to cross-refer a client, introducing them in-person to your associate. This would work easily and naturally in the case of an industry theme, such as a medical or financial services office. An investment advisor can refer clients to an accountant, a real estate lawyer or an estate-planning lawyer, for instance. A doctor’s office could include general practitioners and a number of specialists. Many complementary services that are convenient for clients may result from the arrangement.

Game Plan

Evaluate if a shared office could work for you. Would it provide a good experience for your clients, or would it be disruptive? Would you have the space and resources you and your employees need to get work done, or would it interfere? Would it be a worthwhile cost savings?
If a shared space is a possibility, identify fellow professionals with whom you might work well, and carefully consider locations and logistics. “Is a Shared Office Space in Your Future?” and “What’s Involved in Sharing Office Space” may provide useful insight.
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