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9 Things To Consider When Renting Shared Office Space

Renting shred office space is sounds like a great idea when you're just starting out. Maybe you got laid off and what to start up on your own. You want to be your own boss. What you don't want is the headache of leasing an office; it's all overhead and eats into profits.

Having worked for others up to now you don't really know what goes into renting an office. And you don't really need to, if you're just sharing a space. Even then, there are factors to consider which will save you a lot of bother and money.

1. Parking

Preferably, free. You rent office space then realise then find out parking spaces are like gold nuggets: rare and expensive. You don't want to be bothered with tickets and neither do your visitors. This only applies if you or your clients need or want to drive to your office. Otherwise, the most important criterion is ...

2. Location, Location, Location

Your space should be easy to get to. So this means near transport links. You could rent a barn in the middle of nowhere but that only works for mad scientists; they need the space!

It's a bonus if the location fits your image. In London, Shoreditch would be good for web designers and Liverpool Street for brokers. It's wherever the prestige is in your niche.

Clients will be poring over whatever they can find out about you on the 'net. Your location is one thing. Google Maps helps them fill in the blanks. If the location matches your CV, that's one hurdle jumped cleanly. The next is ...

3. Costs

You'll need these itemised. Hidden fixed costs can kill a startup. You need to know how much you need to pay monthly and when you need to pay it. With renting desk space, it should all be included in the monthly rent.

4. Appearance

This is important if you want to meet clients there. The place should look nice. Some office spaces are custom built, some are warehouse conversions, some are old Victorian stock. They can all work well if they're well-maintained. Again, the appearance should match the image you're trying to convey. People don't expect much of a plumber but a certain panache is expected of the professions.

BEWARE: Landlords and clients both can get comfortable with a grungy look; dirt and small bits of litter accumulate over time. Pigeon's poop on the window ledges. Signage wears away. You don't see these things but your clients definitely will.

You need to find out what's included in the rent. Usually, everything. You don't have to maintain the place; the leaseholder does. The great thing about renting desk space is that you can move on quickly if the situation deteriorates. Which leads to the next point ...

5. Flexibility

Does your agreement let you upgrade and/or exit quickly and easily? You want to be able to get more space and services if your business takes off. This saves the hassle of changing addresses on stationery and the like.

You also want to be able to quit the space if your business hits a bad patch.

D. Greg Krikorian, of BizBrain Consulting, says shared office space offers ...
" ... a convenient workplace environment for us to operate in. The 24 hour access and facilities such as mail handling, telephones, and broadband, as well as a central location in the Flatiron district have made it easy for us to focus more on our business and less on managing an office."

(Source: About.com)

6. Duration

How long or how short a lease can you get? This depends on your negotiating skills and the economic climate: supply and demand. The greater the demand and the less supply the more rigourous your terms. At the time of writing it's a buyers market in London but this can change. Generally, shorter leases are better than longer ones unless you can get one with excellent terms and you plan on staying put for a while.

7. Company

It's important to find out who else is sharing the space. In London, it's quite often Web 2.0 design firms. That's fine, as long as they're more Home Counties than Crusty; the bohemian look may or may not suit your business. Have a look around the lavatories and kitchen. Are they well-maintained? Go there at night and over the weekend; who's still there?

The last thing you need is someone who has a problem with personal hygiene, likes to pump out dubstep on their lunch-break or spread their work all over the place in a panic about a deadline. The more relaxed your co-sharers are, the better. Except about office decorum.

They should be making nice money so they don't need to do stuff that'll bother you, as you do it!

Deskmag Global Coworking Survey 2012 showed that ...
"71% of respondents said their creativity had increased since joining, and 62% said their standard of work had improved. Countering the common claim that coworking spaces can be distracting, 68% said they were able to focus better, as compared to 12% who said the opposite. 64% said they could better complete tasks on time."

"Who are the coworkers? 53% are freelancers, while the remainder are entrepreneurs, small company employees, big company employees, and 8% who describe themselves as none of the above (the proportion of 'other' respondents has increased from 5% two years ago to 8%, while entrepreneuers has fallen from 18% to 14%). The proportion of female coworkers is growing, up from 32% in 2010 to 38% today."

8. Facilities

Most providers offer tiered levels of service; the more you pay, the more you get. A shared office space can have any of the following:

• Desk space (naturally!);
• Wifi,
• Kitchen,
• Lounge,
• Projector / Whiteboard;
• 24-hour access;
• Concierge;
• Mail forwarding;
• Printing;
• Locker space and most importantly ...

9. Conference Room

You need a space to talk to co-workers privately, take a private call or meet a client. Your office should have a meeting room and it should be presentable. You don't want to be having to go to a cafe or chat to someone in a corridor. We're all quite informal these days ... until people take liberties. What liberties? Only your client knows, in these individualistic times! So make sure the environment is, at least, not distracting. You settle into a well-upholstered seat and have a discussion privately. Your client is impressed by the room and the meeting goes more smoothly.

A nice meeting room with comfortable seating can make all the difference in settling a deal.
"With the increase of digitally-based companies, co-working environments can be great solution for start-ups that don’t have a big footprint and want to interact with other like-minded people. The key to co-working spaces is that they foster collaboration."

(Source: Patrick Hull, Forbes.com)

About the author

T. O' Donnell
T. O' Donnell is staffer for HotDeskingClub.com.
He has a B. A. in Philosophy and Sociology and dabbles in web design.

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