Could shacking up with another business be the way forward?

But moving from the kitchen table to an office space has never been so expensive, and renting a more client-facing environment might not be feasible for a start-up on a shoestring.

Commercial rents might be higher than ever – but people’s attitudes to their workspace have also never been so flexible. The ‘sharing economy’ attitude has hit the workplace, with people sharing their office with businesses distinctly different to their own.

Shared office space could be the solution to your problem: Desk renters can potentially lease space on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. All you need is your own laptop while other amenities like broadband, printers, scanners, conference rooms and coffee machines, are often provided. But it’s worth weighing up the advantages, the drawbacks and some other considerations before ‘shacking up’.

The first advantage, particularly for those currently flying solo, is it gives you the chance to interact with humans. No more chats with the goldfish on the kitchen table. You get to be with, hopefully, like-minded individuals and have the chance to widen your network.

A further key benefit for freelancers, or indeed any small business, is being surrounded by others, who are hard-working and motivated. It can help keep you focused. You may be one of those who works until they drop. From home, there can be a tendency to soldier on through the day and sometimes into the night without stopping. Going somewhere that isn’t home may just allow you to see that people do take lunch breaks.

For many something even more flexible, such as hot-desking, is a further option. Some spaces have desks set aside for co-workers to rent for a few days or even hours. It can be the best solution for those who work from home most of the time, and feel this generally works well, but want to escape occasionally and seek out the support of others.

One thing to bear in mind though is how much space you need and for how long. If you want a permanent home, to house either just yourself or your team, the best bet is to find yourself a shared space you can use all the time. This may work out as more expensive, but luckily these tend to be on rolling monthly contracts, which means you’re not tied in.

So, what else do you need to think about?

While sharing an office can be great for meeting people, it’s important to anticipate potential irritations between co-habitees. Just as you might have regrets about hiring someone who didn’t fit in with your company culture, the same applies when you share an office – the dynamic needs to be right.

Then there’s lack of control over your space. Before anyone signs up for a shared office space, accept things such as décor won’t be up to you. It may be too hot or even too cold. Other things such as broadband speeds may be annoyingly slow. And your penchant for dancing to loud music in your onesie will no longer be an option.

Finally, cost is a factor for the would-be lone worker. While shared offices tend to be the cheapest way to rent deskspace, they may well end up costing more than your home office.

In summary, probably the biggest consideration for budding desk renter is the people you would want to share an office with. At best it’s a way to enhance your business, either through networking and referrals, opportunities for collaborative projects, or simply through the energy and dynamic they help to create. At worst, however, it’s a cultural clash. The chemistry needs to be right.

By Peter Ames, head of strategy at office space search engine, Office Genie

Image: Office via Shutterstock