After a certain amount of growth, most small businesses find themselves between a rock and a hard place: too large to thrive at home or in a few remote locations, but too small to warrant their very own commercial space. In a company’s start-up phases, it’s just not feasible to sign a three- to five-year lease on an expensive office and hope that it will still meet your developing needs indefinitely.
Sharing an office space is a viable alternative that tends to be more affordable, scalable and flexible. But there’s a catch: you have to play well with others. This arrangement raises a host of questions, ranging from how you keep the environment harmonious to how you handle important logistics, like general liability insurance.
There are certain actions you can take to make your office-sharing experience go smoothly, and certain others that could complicate the process. Here are some important dos and don’ts when it comes to sharing a commercial space:
Stick to Common Space Etiquette. You certainly don’t want your company to be the pariah of your shared office. This means cleaning up after yourself, keeping volume at a respectful level and adhering to all rules set for the space. Even little things—like cleaning out the refrigerator regularly or bringing in bagels for everyone in the building once a month—can go a long way in making it a positive place to be.
Actively Build Company Culture. Sometimes shared space makes company culture feel like an afterthought. But you don’t want to put this important facet of your business on the back burner! Make sure you prioritize team-building and stick to your vision for company culture, even if everyone else in the building is on a different page.
Split Costs Fairly. One option for splitting costs fairly is pro-rating the common areas and dividing it up by use. For example, if your office uses two-thirds of the reception area for greeting clients and taking phone calls and another company uses one-third, then you could each pay accordingly to keep things fair. Whatever plan you work out, you’ll need to draft a clear legal agreement and stick to it.
Act Like It’s Your Office Alone. Your team might think it’s Friday afternoon craft-beer-chugging contest is hilarious, but the consulting firm down the hall still trying to get work done before the weekend would beg to differ. Like it or not, shared office space means neighbors. Conflict could be a-brewin’ for any team that treats the space like theirs alone.
Sign a Long-Term Lease. One of the primary perks of a shared commercial space is the flexibility. Since you can’t predict your exact future needs, you’ll want to stick to shorter term leases. Some spaces allow for leases as short as three months, while others might ask for a year. The bright side is that you don’t have to lock into a binding five-year agreement (and shouldn’t).
Leave Insurance Up to Chance. If you’re walking around your shared office space assuming that the owner or landlord has all the logistics covered, you’re taking a big risk. You still have to look out for your SMB’s interests, and that includes locking down details like general liability insurance, workers’ compensation and more. Make sure you factor in your premises when enrolling for your policy, as it will likely affect price and coverage.
Need to brush up on your liability coverage before you make any property decisions? CoverHound is here to help! Compare options for your small business today.