According to the Boston Startup Guide, the number of shared workspaces in the Boston Metro has grown considerably in recent years. Once a novelty dotting trendy neighborhoods, Boston co-working sites now number in the dozens. They offer an away-from-home workplace for freelancers, and often serve as startup incubators for tech entrepreneurs.
Participants enjoy the diversity and community of a shared workspace, which can make them more energized and productive than working exclusively from home. Shared workspaces offer an open business environment that’s suitable for collaboration and meeting with clients, without the noise and distractions of a coffee house.
Typically, shared office spaces include open workstations and tables, with options for dedicated desks and private offices. Teamwork areas are suitable for accommodating small business operations and a few employees. Amenities may include conference rooms, client meeting areas, and privacy nooks for telephone calls.
Membership rates vary widely, with some offering membership based on limited daily access, or unlimited use based on monthly or yearly rates. Higher rates apply for dedicated desks and private offices. In the Boston Metro, rates for shared, non-dedicated workspaces begin for as little as $89 a month, ranging up to several hundred dollars per month.
Upscale shared workplace locations supply business-class printers, fax machines, facility managers and on-site business seminars. Major chains such as WeWork offer health insurance plans and discounted credit card processing services. Others offer on-site conveniences such as dry cleaning pick-up and delivery, mailboxes and courier services.
Membership perks may include the best of “start-up culture” amenities, such as video games, workout rooms, lounge areas, free coffee and tea, and free beer on tap.
At last count, Metro Boston had 31 shared workspace locations, with more likely to come. And while belonging to a “co-working club” offers a low-cost way to have an office location outside the home – and outside of the coffee shop – it doesn’t suit all business types or client contact situations.
Shared workspace companies that are too exclusive or niche-oriented have also shown a propensity for failure. The shared workspace industry is a relatively new element of the “sharing economy” and shakeout among competitors is inevitable. Metro Boston business owners should carefully compare traditional office lease opportunities against the expenses and limitations of shared workspaces.
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