What is a Coworking Space or Shared Office?

The term shared offices refers to workspaces occupied by more than one tenant or business. This type of office space is managed by a third party that provides space and facilities to businesses, their staff, self-employed individuals, and freelancers. Shared offices range from informal arrangements to high-end workspaces provided by chain or boutique operators, which are more common under the coworking model.

These offices typically feature a mix of open plan space and private offices. Space arrangements vary depending on the packages chosen or provided, with some tenants having allocated workspaces and others relying on desk sharing if there's no dedicated workspace, allowing users to choose their station on a first-come-first-served basis.

Shared workspaces are typically furnished and equipped with all the telecommunications infrastructure needed, including internet access, telephones, and printing / scanning facilities. Additional services and amenities may also be available (see the "What's Included" section below).



Typical Occupier

Shared office space has become increasingly popular, growing in appeal and market share due to the advantages it offers over conventional offices. Recent statistics show that the UK has upwards of 1,000 coworking spaces available, ranking third globally in terms of overall number of shared office spaces. London has the highest concentration of these shared workspaces, which account for over 20% of all office space in the city. Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Glasgow also have a large presence of shared workspace operators.

Although initially preferred by freelancers and micro-enterprises, the occupier profile has become increasingly diverse. Nowadays, shared office space has cemented itself as an attractive option for large businesses and multinationals needing to quickly put people to work on short-term tasks or long term collaborative projects.



The Advantages and Disadvantages of Shared and Coworking Office Space

One of the main advantages of shared workspaces is the degree of flexibility they offer. Providers of these spaces usually offer a variety of contract terms to suit the needs of different occupiers. This makes them ideal for start-ups, companies that are in the process of relocating, or freelancers who do not want to commit to a traditional lease.

Shared offices are usually ready-to-move-in workspaces which require no set up, hence they offer a financial advantage to companies in their initial stages, as well as any business owner who may be looking to limit their overhead costs.

Because operators often have several packages to choose from, it's easy to switch your included amenities and facilities on short notice based on the needs and requirements of your company.

Moreover, shared offices are usually found in prime business locations, so they can be cost-effective for anyone looking to establish their presence in competitive markets.

On the other hand, shared office space may not suit businesses who prioritise branding and customised office layouts. The chance for personalisation can be limited and space may appear generic, although this isn't always the case.

It's also worth bearing in mind that open office layouts don't suit everyone's work style, and can, in some cases, cause distraction.



What's Included?

Shared office contracts typically include the following:

- The use of office space (either using dedicated desks or in a hot desking modality).
- Utilities.
- Business rates.
- Building security.
- Office cleaning.

These spaces usually feature common areas like break rooms, bathrooms, kitchen areas, as well as meeting and conferencing rooms. In more upscale venues, they may also be equipped with wellness facilities, storage, showers, and parking. Access to these amenities is usually included in the monthly fee.

There're a range of additional services that may only be available in the higher-priced packages or on pay-as-you-use basis. Some examples include attendance to networking sessions, workshops, and training; and support services involving clerical, admin, and reception work.

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