Office Space In Today’s Business World

SaraJane Askildsen 10.28.2013

Today, there are more workspace options for growing businesses than ever.  From purely virtual, to co-working or private, each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Choosing your workspace is an important decision as it will effect your business’s communication, work-flow, and culture. So, which option is the best? As with most business decisions, there’s no “one size fits all” answer.

Here are a few options to consider…

Virtual Office

This lean business model is effective because it’s low-cost and allows personnel to live practically anywhere in the world. The downside is that you have no location to meet clients, it’s difficult to supervise your staff, and you’re often dependent on people you work with using their own equipment.

Shared-Space Office

This is a large open office space with little or no division between tenant companies. These spaces are a popular choice among start-ups in metropolitan areas because they’re a cheap place to work as a group.  Plus, shared-space offices offer great networking opportunities.

The drawbacks of such a model were recently discussed in-detail by Business Insider, and most of these problems centered around lack of privacy. This model makes it impossible to do confidential work, and difficult to develop a culture distinct from other companies in the shared space.  Despite your vision for the company, your employees will be strongly influenced by the work ethic and social dynamic of others in the room.

Yet, even with these shortcomings, co-working can be a good solution for many professionals. DeskMag’s 2012 survey reported, that on average, users rated their satisfaction with their co-working space 8.3 out of 10.

Co-Working (Suite-Style Shared-Space)

IdeaRocket started as a virtual business and then considered many options before selecting a space at WeWork building in Midtown Manhattan.

Like the “Shared-Space” model, co-working in a suite-style building allows businesses to work side-by-side, but with more privacy. Companies work in separate rooms but share facilities such as break rooms and conference rooms.

Suite-style co-working is often lease-free, making it ideal for companies who are in a transitional phase. If you’re expecting to rapidly staff up, you may outgrow a space quickly so being lease-free is a huge plus.

Buildings like WeWork commonly offer networking events and opportunities, but without privacy intrusions. Also, the ability to book conference rooms makes it easy to meet clients in-office without committing to a multiple-year lease.

Overall, we’ve been pretty happy with out office space. The administration is friendly, we have complete privacy, and we’ve been able to expand our space when needed. However, we don’t have the same level of control over solving IT issues that we could if we were renting a private office space, and the enclosed nature of suites can cause sound complications during conference calls.

Private Office Space

Leasing Private Office Space

This is obviously the most private and attractive option, especially if you regularly meet clients and partners face-to-face. It also provides much more control over your resources and culture.

However, this option can be quite expensive and isn’t always a good fit. Signing a lease locks you into a space for a number of years, and if you’re unsure how fast your company will grow, this may be a mistake.

There are many questions a business-owner must ask themselves before selecting the right space, but here are a few we think are important:

  • Will the company be able to afford rent for the next few years?
  • Is it likely that the company staff will grow or shrink rapidly before the lease expires?
  • Will the work we’re doing require privacy?
  • Will we need to meet clients or partners face-to-face?

If you aren’t sure, then it may be better to hold off on signing a lease. One of the greatest benefits to co-working or working virtually is that you can change your mind at any time and go in another direction.

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