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Beware of the hidden costs associated with coworking, shared office spaces

What is a Coworking or Shared office space?

In simple terms a Coworking or Shared office space is described as an office or a space where two or more people are working under the same roof, but not for the same company. This concept is catching like wild fire with freelancers, small companies, startups and even large companies favouring this arrangement over having their own rented or owned office.

What are the hidden costs in a Coworking space?

If you are looking for a Coworking or shared office space and are evaluating options, you may like to consider hidden costs that may get un-noticed. While coworking can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative to working from home or renting a commercial office, it’s important to be aware of these less-than-obvious costs.

1. Commuting cost: Look out for a Coworking space that is close to home so you can “walk to work”. This is the best option but, often not practical. Next best option is to look for office space that is well connected thru public transport. This minimizes commuting cost. These costs could vary, but include the cost of petrol or diesel, vehicle maintenance, and public transit fares (as applicable). Commuting also adds unpaid time to your workday. And depending on the parking situation at your coworking space, you may have to pay parking fees, too. Account for all these costs before finalizing & check for the facilities offered by the coworking space provider.

2. Work storage: While you may not have this cost while operating from home but some coworking spaces rent storage lockers to members who don’t have a permanent desk. The advantage to locker rental is that you don’t have to carry your laptop and other supplies home each evening. The disadvantage is that the rent is an additional expense and needs to be factored in.

3. Printing & scanning: Some Coworking spaces often charge for printing & scanning facility whereas some of them offer it as part of the membership fee. If your work requires you to print / scan documents this could be a significant cost and should be considered / discussed before taking a membership.

4. Food and Drink: When working from home, you have your kitchen, coffeemaker, and groceries at your disposal. If you work away from home and don’t feel like packing a lunch every day, you’ll need to buy food at the office, or pay for lunches at local restaurants. Some coworking offices provide basic coffee and hot water for tea, but it is advisable to check for these charges before you finalize.

5. Socializing or dining out: Even if you’re careful to pack your lunch each day, and you stick to the coffee from the office machine, friendly officemates may still ask you to lunch, coffee, or after-work drinks. If you’re a solitary type, or don’t care about networking, turning down these offers may not be a problem. But, if you like to socialize, go ahead and recalculate your entertainment budget to accommodate these networking activities. Depending on your network, this cost may be worth taking into stride for the long term benefits that only networking can provide.

6. Meeting & conference room charge: Not all coworking spaces are equal. Some offices offer free use of the shared meeting & conference rooms, while others may charge you for this use. Similarly, some offices include the cost of WiFi in the rent, while others charge extra for connectivity, or require you to supply your own hotspot for security reasons. It’s important to know exactly what your rent covers before signing an agreement so you can account for any extra expenses.

7. Clothing: Coworking means you can no longer work in your pajamas with a mess of uncombed hair. While most offices don’t prescribe a dress code, there’s a general expectation that members appear presentable. Additionally, commuting to work increases the wear and tear on your clothing and shoes. Prepare to increase your clothing and personal grooming budget once you sign on for coworking.

8. Goods & Services Tax (GST): Coworking membership fees or rent are services that are charged under GST at the current rate of 18%. This needs to be factored in while calculating the total outflow.

While coworking in general is extremely cost effective when compared with renting your own office and more productive than working out from home, you are advised to consider the above costs before finalizing your office.

Happy coworking.


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