Is a Shared Office Right for Your Startup? 8 Questions for Founders

There are some great reasons to move your startup into a shared office. Shared offices generally cost less than renting an office of your own; they have useful amenities, such as printers, scanners, whiteboards, projectors, meeting rooms and coffee; there’s a collective energy in shared offices that can keep your team motivated and engaged; there are endless opportunities for casual networking; and shared offices tend to have built-in networks of professionals, which means that many of the services you need can be found in-house.

shared office

But shared offices are not right for every startup. Some shared offices are designed for independent professionals rather than startup teams, and not every space will suit the style and goals of your company.

shared office

Here are eight questions to ask before moving your startup into a shared office.

1. Is the shared office culture compatible with yours?

Every shared office, including coworking spaces and desk rental facilities, has its own culture. Some are hip and trendy with a playful vibe, some are like traditional office buildings with cubicles and people making sales calls, and some serve a particular niche, such as artists, tech professionals or social justice organizations. Make sure your startup and the space are culturally compatible.

2. Will you have room to grow?

Before you commit to a shared space, consider whether your startup will be able to grow there. Growing may mean bringing more team members into the common space, or moving into a bigger office. While it’s hard to determine how quickly and how big you may grow, make sure you have options available when you do.

3. Does your company benefit the space?

Shared office spaces are full of designers, writers, photographers, programmers, UX professionals, attorneys, consultants and more. This generally inspires robust communities of people with diverse skillsets. What will your startup bring to the space?

4. How much do you want to engage in the community?

This is related to question number three. If you’d prefer not to engage much with the existing community, you need to find a space that isn’t focused on community-building or you’ll quickly find yourself feeling out-of-place. In the best case scenario, you and your team become active and engaged parts of a shared office community, but not every company is willing to do that and not every space encourages community-building. Be clear about the role you want to play in a community and find a space aligned with that vision.

5. Do you need to micromanage your team?

If you’re the type of founder who wants to know what every team member is doing at every moment of the day, a shared office may not be the best fit. Shared offices are filled with spontaneous interactions, professional events, and endless casual conversations that present opportunities to collaborate and share resources. Determine whether you’re willing to let go of total control, and trust that the ROI on being in a thriving shared space outweighs being able to micromanage your employees.

6. Is your team self-motivated?

Related to question number five, working in a shared office requires some discipline. Your team members will need to be able to stay focused and productive in a bustling atmosphere with lots of opportunities to socialize.

7. Are there in-house events that will benefit your team?

Shared offices and coworking spaces generally offer programming, networking events and social gatherings designed for freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent professionals and small teams. Take a look at the calendar of upcoming events to see whether the shared office and its community are a good fit for your team.

8. Is the space designed for startups?

Some shared offices and coworking spaces welcome startup teams while others are designed for independent professionals. Make sure the space you’re interested in is open to startups and that it has the things your team may need, such as meeting rooms, private phone booths, locking offices, tech amenities, etc.

shared office

With the incredible growth of the coworking and shared office industry, there are more workplace options for startups than ever before. Share Your Office can help you find the right space for you and your startup team, whether you’re looking for a coworking space, a shared office space, or your next meeting room.

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, community and the future of work. Publications include Shareable, Yes! Magazine, Mother Jones, Triple Pundit and GOOD. She’s the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking spaces. Follow @CatJohnson on Twitter: @CatJohnson