The benefits of coworking spaces have been enumerated by many a writer. They’re a low-cost, high-flexibility alternative to a traditional office lease, and they often come bundled with the kind of perks you’d expect from an over-funded startup’s office.
Yet office subleasing remains a popular alternative. Many startups choose to rent a desk or a room from an existing company’s lease, the same way you might rent a room in someone’s apartment if you’re new in town and you’re not ready to commit to a 12-month lease. This approach offers the same basic benefits of coworking: affordability and flexibility. How are you supposed to choose between the options? Let’s go over the pro and cons of each to find out.
1) Is price the biggest factor?
Price is the main reason you’d consider a coworking space or a sublease in the first place. A private, custom-designed office would be ideal in most ways, but for a startup, the money is best spent on growth.
Here’s the thing: if price is the biggest factor and you don’t care where you work, you might as well go for a coworking space. The fancier coworking spaces like WeWork might be pricey, but if you’re willing to settle for less, you can find coworking spaces for the same price as office subleases.
In other words, office subleases don’t offer a significant enough price benefit over cheap coworking spaces, and they generally offer fewer benefits. All else being equal, you might as well go for a coworking space and have the opportunity to use whatever amenities it offers you.
2) Do you like peace and quiet?
Most coworking spaces give you the option to work by yourself, but private rooms always cost more, and the common areas are inherently social. Even if you’re keeping to yourself, you’ll never be able to completely tune out your surroundings in a coworking space.
In a shared office, on the other hand, you only have one other tenant to deal with. If the company you’re sharing with likes to keep quiet too, then you’re in luck. Because there are fewer people involved, shared offices are only as social as you make them. You can easily find an office space with a startup that’s as keen to keep to themselves as you are.
This might be the biggest advantage that office subleases offer over coworking spaces. Privacy and quiet are expensive commodities in coworking.
Winner: Office Sublease
3) Is networking important?
The answer to this question will depend on where you are in your business. Networking is important to everyone on some level, but sometimes it’s more important than others.
If you’re focused on building out your product and testing it with users, you probably don’t have to worry as much about networking. On the other hand, if you’re already operational and your marketing/sales team is constantly on the lookout for press, influencers, and high-profile clients, then you want to be as close to your industry as possible.
Without a doubt, coworking beats office subleases when it comes to networking. The sheer number of people present is already a plus, and then there’s the after-work events on top of that. In comparison, sharing an office only gives you a chance to interact with one or two other companies at most, and they may not be in your field.
In the end, your decision will depend on your priorities. On average, coworking wins out over office sharing, simply because it’s around the same price yet it tends to offer more. If the social aspect of coworking is important to you, whether professionally or personally, then it’s not even a contest. Coworking is worth it.
Even so, there are specific cases where renting a desk or a room in another company’s office is a better option. If you can find an office sublease for cheap, then go for it—price is the biggest benefit these spaces have to offer.
In particular, if you want privacy and quiet time on the cheap, you might have better luck in a small shared office that offers private space. Open work spaces are the enemy of peace and quiet, so steer clear of coworking spaces and business centers that offer primarily large open space. Either way, the important thing is to pick the office setup that makes sense for you.