For many small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs, no office exists in the traditional sense. Instead, the workspace is often defined by whatever is available: coffee shops, garages, living rooms turned home offices.
While history has shown us many examples of DIY offices powering massive success--there's a reason why the Hewlett Packard garage is recognized as a Palo Alto landmark--there's something to be said for having an actual place to call work.
Shared office space provides this opportunity while still fueling the DIY spirit; in the right situation, it can be so much more than just a shared office. Here are the five best ways to get the most out of the shared office experience.
1. Work at Work
For many people, working at home comes with too many distractions. Whether it’s children, roommates or just the familiarity of home, it can be hard to focus. Similarly, working out of a coffee shop can be noisy, crowded and lack standard office amenities like printing.
A shared office space gives you a definitive place to sit down, focus and be in work mode exclusively. It’s one of the simplest ways to make yourself more productive.
2. Discover Like-Minded People
Though your shared office neighbor may not be in your exact industry, chances are you've got more in common than you realize. In fact, startup staff and entrepreneurs often see plenty of overlap--if not in the exact details, then at least with things like time/project management, raising funds, marketing, etc.
By engaging with the people in your shared office, you open the door to many different types of collaboration and input, even opportunities that may further your own business.
3. Build a Community
Even during the most difficult of crunch times, a coffee break with a friendly face can release enough stress to get your focus back on track. Working in a shared office brings together a community of professionals all working towards similar goals.
Like any office setting, friendships and bonds can be formed in the right mix of personalities, and that powerful sense of community can make the good times better while getting you through the tough times. That simply doesn’t exist when working at home in isolation or among strangers at a coffee shop.
4. Get What You Need to Work
Printing. Wifi. Meeting areas. Coffee--especially coffee. You may be able to get some office amenities working from home or out in a cafe, but something will always be missing. A shared office provides everything you need for a successful work day, from Powerpoint-ready conference rooms to fully stocked networked printers.
Oh, and the test of a quality shared office? Check what kind of coffee they have--and how often it's brewed.
5. Communicate More Effectively With Your Remote Team
Almost all shared offices provide networked conference rooms, and the good ones will also offer private phone rooms or VoIP-ready booths. This means you can collaborate long-distance, give customer support, network or hold cross-country staff meetings in purely professional environments--no overflowing chatter from a coffee shop or background distractions from your home office.
These amenities project professionalism and make it easier to communicate, which is particularly important when dealing with a customer, investor or partner.
In the digital business age, technology has opened the door to collaboration across time zones, shared documents and files, and real-time troubleshooting and support. While this has brought the world closer, in many ways, it has isolated us as individuals even further. A shared office brings that human touch back into our on-the-go lives.
Though you could view it simply as a desk and an Internet connection, there’s so much more you can get out of a shared office. People, technology, coffee; the right shared office delivers the perks of the traditional office but tailored to the needs of startups and professionals. After all, what workday is complete without venting over a good cup of coffee?
Where do you find you work most productively?
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