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Why Shared Office Space Might Work For You

This article was originally released by Crain’s Ask the Expert and is reproduced with permission here.

With the coworking trend growing rapidly, shared office space is not only for solo professionals and startups anymore. Many big companies are now situating their teams in New York City’s many coworking spaces, whether to establish a satellite office, create a home base while transitioning to permanent space, or inspire more creativity by immersing their teams in the culture of innovation many coworking spaces foster.

For insight on how to take advantage of the benefits of coworking and how to choose the right space, Crain’s Custom recently spoke with James Kleeman, who serves as the director of full-service office suite provider Emerge212.  With his master’s degree in real estate from NYU along with a graduate certificate in hospitality, James has been with Emerge212 since 2005 coming from Related Companies. He directs the business and its brand, ensuring the best of hospitality and design, which is testament to his passion and commitment to bringing the finest of both disciplines to office space.

Crain’s: Many companies that consider leasing co-working space for an extended period want to make sure their team can function just as efficiently as in a traditional office space. What types of amenities should they look for?

James Kleeman: It’s important to consider how your company best operates and what you and your team value before you start your search. For instance, you may need available space to host networking events or schmooze with your clients. For another company, it may be critical that there is a trained and seasoned tech support team onsite or readily available.

Make sure you choose the space that has the right value proposition for you. Coworking spaces can range from minimalistic, membership-type models where a member has access to available desk space on demand and a coffee urn, all the way to full-service environments that offer dedicated office suites and customized infrastructure. In a full-service environment like ours, the space itself may be an amenity, offering features such as innovative design, state-of-the-art technology and seasoned staff and administrative support. These are features that are valued by our target clients—sophisticated, high-energy entrepreneurs and businesses.

Crain’s: What would you tell people who are concerned about a move to a coworking space because of shared areas and the possibility of noise or disruption? What can their employers do to alleviate these concerns?

James Kleeman: Finding the right office space to fit your team’s work style takes time. When you’re shopping for a space, see if there’s an opportunity for you to work out of the space for the day before committing to a lease. Each office service provider has its own niche culture, creating an environment that caters to its target tenants. Make sure you’re comfortable in whatever environment a provider has designed when you work there for a day.

Crain’s: In many industries, companies face increasing pressure to keep real estate costs down. Can coworking spaces help them lower their overhead—and how does the cost of leasing traditional space compare with leasing coworking space?

James Kleeman: The top three expenses of most businesses are talent, legal and office space. In a traditional office space you are betting on future growth. Sometimes you have to pay for space you don’t actually need yet to make sure you don’t outgrow it too quickly. Beyond the landlord’s rent per square foot, you may also have to pay for a litany of other expenses, such as common area maintenance fees, janitorial, electric, heat, technology infrastructure leases and license agreements, support staff and many more.

The beauty of the coworking/full-service office space providers is that a business only has to pay for additional spaces and services as needed. Your office provider should help you adjust your space as your business grows, allowing you to preserve cash you need to invest in other areas of the business.

Crain’s: For companies facing intense competitive pressure, keeping their ideas and trade secrets safe is imperative. How are coworking spaces ensuring that their tenants have the privacy they need?

James Kleeman: Many people enjoy having communal spaces and networking opportunities with like-minded entrepreneurs but require their office environment to provide more private areas to speak confidentially or collaborate on private financial data or intellectual property, etc.

If that’s the case for you, look for a space that offers private rooms. For instance, at Emerge212, we offer several small and large conference rooms and break out spaces for collaborative meetings, as well as our Serenity Lounge, which has Beatnik noise-cancelling chairs.

Look for a coworking space with a technology infrastructure that protects your privacy, too. We recommend that companies look for a space with fully redundant technology where they are put on their own VLAN’s to which all of their wireless devices are mapped back to ensure top security.

Crain’s: For companies that need a lot of bandwidth, one concern with any office space is whether the technology infrastructure will support their team’s needs. How are coworking spaces making sure they can meet tenants’ technology needs, particularly when a space is very full?

James Kleeman: The best coworking spaces offer a technology platform that can sustain occupancy of every office and every seat, accommodating the needs of each business. They can support the needs of every industry of every size from across the globe.

In the ideal space, your company will be able to get up and running right away because of features such as top redundant fiber connectivity, firewalls, private servers, the cloud, on-site storage and co-location capabilities. You should be able to store any equipment you bring in securely in a state-of-the-art server room with individual racks of all sizes. Your team should be able to access this equipment privately with a unique passcode access, 24-hours a day, 365 day-a-year.

Although your space may be temporary, your business is ongoing, and a great coworking space will provide the support you need around the clock.