Corporate Culture & Productivity

Growth Hack: How to Manage Shared Office Spaces

David Spence
December 22nd, 2015

Shared offices, also known as coworking spaces, are springing up all over the country in response to growing demand for professional but affordable spaces for freelancers, solopreneurs and small businesses to work in.

For some businesses, a shared office can be a great transitional space. While you might not yet need or be able to afford a larger space, you still need a common place to meet and work. It can also be a great space to connect with other like-minded connections to help expand your network.

However, a shared office space can come with some drawbacks too. In order to effectively manage your team and ensure productivity in a shared office space, you have to come prepared. We’ve highlighted some tips on how to overcome common problems to effectively manage a shared office space that optimizes both worker happiness and productivity.

Common problems in shared office space management

Although shared office spaces can be great places to work, they’re not without their challenges. We’ve outlined a few of the most common problems you might run into so that you can anticipate and overcome them easily.

1. Lack of control over the space

Most shared offices come with pre-configured layouts, so you won’t have any direct control over the flow of the space. This is why it’s important to choose a shared office that has a layout that caters to the needs of your company and the needs of your employees. If possible, try to choose a section of the office that has natural separation from the other parts so that you can feel more independent and in control of your area.

2. The increase of workplace distractions

Since shared offices are home to workers and businesses of all types, it can be much more difficult to maintain focus. For workers making the adjustment from working at home to working in a shared office, there can also be an increased desire to socialize. As a manager, set scheduled breaks to give your employees a chance to socialize with each other or designate a social space located away from work stations.

3. Difficulties defining company culture

Defining company culture is important for employee satisfaction and overall happiness. When you use a shared office space, you won’t necessarily be able to put your company’s signature on it. For this reason, it’s important to choose a space that’s congruent with the values of your company. Make the space your own in small ways, such as with motivational posters and by allowing employees to bring personal items to decorate their desks.

How to ensure company success in a shared office space

To ensure a shared office space actually benefits your business, you’ll need to consider the following three things when choosing a space.

1. Evaluate company needs

Most shared office spaces come with a host of amenities, including kitchens, free coffee, additional meeting rooms, free use of office supplies and much more. Consider what amenities your company needs in order to be productive and choose your space based on that. After all, you might not need an air hockey table to keep your company goals on track—but it might help.

2. Ensure worker preferences are accounted for

Shared workplaces usually come in a variety of office layouts. Some cater to companies who prefer the open office setting, while others value traditional cubicle spaces. It’s important to understand the varying needs of your employees and choose an office layout that helps them focus and be productive.

For example, open offices were all the rage over the past decade, but have received a lot of backlash in recent years. A lot of workers report how difficult it is to focus when faced with constant questions from coworkers. Others enjoy the enhanced collaboration and find that it inspires them to be more creative. In order to suit all worker styles, consider a shared office that offers a variety of workplace setups, including closed meeting rooms, spaces for collaboration, separate working areas and even standing desks.

3. Consider office location

If you’re a local company and are looking to finally bring the team together, it’s important to consider the location of the office. Since frequent breaks are crucial for enhancing worker productivity and reducing workplace stress, it can be beneficial to seek out a space that allows your workers to leave the office and get a breath of fresh air. Amenities outside the office, such as parks, restaurants and other activities can also help to enhance your work culture. Plus, you may want to consider the commute of your employees to ensure they’re comfortable in the new space.

Not every shared office is going to be the right fit for your company. If you’re transitioning from a remote workforce to a shared office space, you’ll need to consider how your employees perform best and implement effective space management practices to support them. Don’t rush the decision and choose wisely.

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