Office Sharing vs. Coworking – What’s the Difference? 

Learn all about the differences between coworking spaces and shared offices to see which option suits you best.

Now more than ever, the appeal of the traditional office is diminishing, and businesses are setting their sights on flexible work options. In a rapidly changing environment, they are more reluctant to enter into a lengthy contract, and it’s no wonder. Companies want room to scale up or down with ease and are also looking for ways to reduce costs. Fortunately, flex offices let them do all of these. More than that, they tend to be move-in-ready, well-equipped and boast friendly and inspiring designs that make them a pleasure to work in.  

Office sharing and coworking are the two most sought-after options among businesses that want to implement flex office. In essence, they both involve different professionals and companies working under the same roof as a way to cut expenses. They are also excellent alternatives to high-priced private offices, long and binding contracts, and lonely home offices alike.  

At the basis, then, both of these setups are a form of shared office space, so it’s very easy to confuse them given their similarities. In reality, however, there are some core differences between them that range from the purpose of these spaces to the needs of their members. So, without further ado, let’s shed light on the coworking space vs shared office debate to help you decide which suits your business better. 

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What is Office Sharing? 

Office sharing is an arrangement in which two or more companies share the same workspace. Usually, one of them manages it but has unused workstations or smaller units that can be rented by smaller businesses. This benefits both parties: the former can monetize the empty space by subleasing it, while the other business receives access to a professional space without having to invest too much in a private office.  

Although not a new concept, office sharing became particularly popular during the pandemic when the rise of remote work left a significant amount of commercial space unoccupied.  

What is Coworking? 

Similarly to office sharing, coworking implies a physical space that individuals or small businesses of various backgrounds share. What sets coworking spaces apart is their goal to provide more than just an office space. They aim to build a community where members can work comfortably on their own projects, while also having the opportunity to collaborate and network with like-minded professionals. 

Generally, they enjoy an open-concept design where members can reserve dedicated or hot desks. Meeting or conference rooms may also be available for added fees. 

Six Differences between Office Sharing and Coworking 

  1. Typical user

One of the first differences relates to the people that these workspaces attract. As mentioned earlier, office sharing usually happens between two or more well-established companies, whereas small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and digital nomads tend to be more drawn toward coworking spaces. The design and layout of the latter breed networking and collaboration and many budding startups or individuals are looking precisely for that sort of inspiration and to get their name out there.  

  1. Amenities and Services

The amenities and services you enjoy in an office sharing arrangement are mostly things that you yourself need to provide for your company. You may find basic business supplies, a kitchen, or receptionist services, but any additional service you require is up to you to set up. This also includes catering to your employees – whether that means through coffee, lunch, or fun activities for team building.  

With a coworking space membership, you get access to a host of desirable amenities. These could be everything from Wi-Fi and printing services to beverages, snacks, breakout areas, phone booths, parking, and so much more. 

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  1. Privacy 

Deciding between a shared office or a coworking space will also depend on the level of privacy you and your business require. Although there may be phone booths, conference rooms, and private offices available to rent in a coworking space, you will still spend most of your time working alongside other people in the communal areas. 

In contrast, when two or more companies share an office, they may set up fake walls and doors to better separate the different teams and enhance a sense of privacy. There is much less emphasis on social gathering and free collaboration and more focus on providing a space where you can grow your business without the noise and distractions generally attributed to a coworking setting. 

  1. Lease Terms 

Office sharing and coworking alike offer more flexibility than conventional offices in terms of contract length. Still, if you decide to sublease an office, you may need to sign a longer lease than the ones offered in coworking spaces. In fact, the latter may even allow for daily or monthly payments. So, it will all come down to what you’re looking for: perhaps you want continuity and lean towards a long-term agreement, or you’re more likely to pop into the office on an occasional basis. 

  1. Price 

While both setups help reduce costs associated with traditional office rentals, there are a lot of variables that can influence their price. Coworking spaces are often located in downtown areas and in class A buildings, so depending on how prestigious their location is or how exclusive the building itself or the amenities are, prices may increase.  

But perhaps it still won’t compare to the expenses that come with running an office. You’ll need to consider overhead costs that include utilities, cleaning, maintenance services, setting up equipment, and potential repairs. It could also happen that you end up using less space than what you are paying for, but it’s more difficult to downsize in a shared office.  

  1. Networking and Collaboration 

Regardless of which option you choose, you will inevitably encounter professionals from other businesses. The only thing you need to decide is how much exposure you want or need to different people and ideas. Office sharing arrangements are conducive to minimal interactions and you likely won’t meet professionals from diverse industries when only two or three companies share the same workspace. 

However, the very purpose of coworking spaces is to promote collaboration and the exchange of ideas that would benefit all parties involved. Here, a software developer may work alongside an artist, and there’s no telling how representatives of widely different niches may inspire each other. This setup could also be attractive to people who want to hire or get hired. Plus, besides the regular business hours, many coworking spaces tend to organize social and business events that are perfect opportunities to grow your professional circle even more. 

To reiterate, there can be plenty of advantages to sharing an office depending on what you’re searching for and what the specific needs of your business are. You could be looking for a space reminiscent of a traditional office that offers privacy and an air of professionalism. Or, your business may thrive more in a lively, stimulating open workspace which facilitates opportunities to meet new people and form new business connections. Whichever the case, shared offices and coworking spaces are constantly evolving to meet the needs of today’s workers. 

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