Sharing an office is a great way for your company to save money. But don’t be discouraged by blank walls. A shared office space can still feel like your office.
The office: most people picture stereotypes of workers hunched over computers in cubicle farms, the only sound coming from ringing phones and clicking keyboards. Quiet and solitary, this image certainly lacks in collaborative and creative potential.
But the truth is a far cry from the stereotype. An office can be lively, colorful, and collaborative, all to spark a collective drive for success.
This can be even more so in a shared office, where a diverse collection of fast-moving startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses can come together to truly form a unique professional community. Collaboration, creativity, and camaraderie: is it possible to have a workspace that fits both your personal and professional needs?
In many shared offices, the answer is yes — all of these things and much more are possible.
Here are four tips to easily transform a shared office space into your home away from home: (Click here to tweet these tips.)
1. Personalize the office
Just because you’re renting a shared office space doesn’t mean that you can’t give it all of the personality and attention that you want. Some people want their office space to be clean, sparse, and efficient, but others want color and flair — after all, this is their home for at least eight hours out of the day. You’re paying for the space, so do what you want with it.
Posters of your favorite classic film, photos of your dogs and cats, a fish tank, and more — just about any shared office space lease allows customers to bring this type of personalization. If you’ve got an idea that may impact the actual structure (e.g. hanging a white board), just ask the office manager about what’s available.
Remember, the goal is for the members of a shared office space to be comfortable and successful, and that means accommodating any reasonable request to personalize an office space.
2. Get to know your neighbors
Sometimes, the best ideas come from the sources you’d least expect. One of the best aspects of a shared office space is that it brings together a community of like-minded professionals who are working in all aspects of business. Many shared office spaces focus on tech startups, but you’ll often find a mix of corporate satellite employees, single entrepreneurs, and established small businesses thrown into the mix as well.
What does this combination offer? It’s a unique blend of ideas, personalities, and experiences that you may not get at a large office with everyone under the same umbrella.
It’s one of the highlights for Kristen Rasmussen, account manager at Sponge, a marketing agency that leases a shared office space. “Being a small business, we really enjoy the community and the range of companies that call (the shared office) home,” says Rasmussen. “We’ve found that the community has allowed for organic collaboration and networking that we wouldn’t have had if not in a shared working environment.”
3. Scale when ready
Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or fast-growing startup, scalability always goes hand-in-hand with growth. Shared offices provide customization options to handle scaling facility needs as a business grows. Whether you’re looking at traditional hard offices or more open spaces that emphasize collaboration among a growing team, scalability is one of the most important ways a shared office caters to the specific needs of small businesses and startups. By allowing for flexibility at a realistic pace, shared office spaces can accommodate this type of growth and scaling in a way that traditional office spaces — and coffee shops — simply can’t.
4. Use your space creatively
A shared office space offers more than just a location to get work done. In some cases, it’s an opportunity to educate customers, display products, or engage sales, all in a non-traditional environment.
Take Trumaker, a built-to-fit clothing company targeting men — specifically those that hate to go shopping. Trumaker recognized this demographic trait and wound up being creative with its shared office.
“Guys don’t like shopping,” says Ali Shimberg, team lead at Trumaker. “Trumaker’s hybrid pairing is intended not only to offer solutions to guys seeking better-fitting shirts but also as a gamble on a multichannel retail strategy with the potential to be stronger than direct sales, e-commerce or brick-and-mortar alone.”
The result was the transformation of Trumaker’s shared office space into a mini-showroom. “Using the office as a showroom has allowed our customers to touch and feel all the products we offer without being too overwhelming in a store setting,” says Shimberg.
After successfully co-founding Synergy-Partners, Phil Domenico co-founded Assemble Shared Office on the idea that office space can be equal parts productive, modern, inspiring, and collaborative.