Are you starting up, ready to move out of your home office, or looking for a professional place to meet with clients? You may want to explore the benefits of shared office space, or “coworking”.

Coworking spaces are communal offices that you can rent by the hour, day, or month. Coworking is a flexible alternative to setting up your own office, and can accommodate changing needs as your business grows.

Most coworking spaces offer individual work stations as well as amenities such as:

  • Receptionist services (answering phone calls and taking messages, scheduling meetings, mailboxes)
  • Office equipment such as scanners, fax machine, and photocopiers
  • Private boardrooms for meeting with clients
  • Wireless internet access
  • Break rooms and kitchens

Coworking could be a good option if you:

  • Need a professional, centralized location to meet with customers
  • Are looking for mentors, friends, collaborators, and inspiration
  • Want to get away from distractions at home, or if you feel isolated or unproductive in your current space
  • Have fluctuations in your number of clients or employees
  • Are establishing a presence in another city

Before joining a coworking facility, you may want to test the waters by attending a drop-in session. This lets you meet your future coworkers, get a feel for the office culture, and make sure the space suits your needs. If you're easily distracted, for example, you'll want to find a space that is not too hectic for you to focus on your work.

It's also important to make sure that the space meets your privacy needs. If you are discussing confidential issues or trade secrets, you will need access to a private space that is away from other coworkers' desks. You will also want to make sure that your data is protected — our E-business security, privacy and legal requirements page can help you learn more about protecting yourself and your customers.

To learn more about finding the right office space for you, visit our section on Choosing and setting up a location.