Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pros and Cons of Renting a Shared Office Space

By Angela Quarles, @AngelaQuarles

Part of the Indie Author Series

I thought I'd delve into something unrelated to writing craft and marketing, and that is--where you write. I recently started renting a shared office space in my town, and it's working out great for me. So I thought I'd discuss the pros and cons, so you can see if it's something that might work for you.

Some of you have a dedicated office in your home and are even able to write it off on your taxes. Some of you find a section of the couch, push off a cat, dog, or kid, and start pounding away on your laptop. Some of you might be like me--I do a lot of my writing at Starbucks.

I do have a desk at my house where I can write (I'm writing this post there), but I find that for some reason, I'm not that productive there. I do manage it when I have to, but I generally like getting out of the house, and whenever I'm hungry I can just walk up to the Starbucks counter and order more food.

This year, I realized I needed another option. Starbucks is only open during certain hours, and I also don't have a lot of space at those little tables. So, I looked into shared office space and found one in the heart of my downtown and started renting in January

What is a Shared Office Space?

It's a concept that's gaining traction in urban centers and it allows you to pay rent and enjoy the benefits of an office environment. It's less expensive than having to rent your own office though. For instance, at my place, I have:
  • a mailbox (which meant I could forego getting a PO Box)
  • copy machine (with a $20 paper printing allowance)
  • various office supplies in the copy room, like a laminator
  • kitchen and break area, with fridge and microwave
  • bathrooms
  • writing desk
  • access to one of the conference rooms (and the AV equipment)
  • A "quiet room" for video conference calls we can slip into when needed

I purchased a smaller plan, which allows me to come ten days a month. I can then sit at any desk that's unoccupied and type away. My place also has unlimited tea and coffee, as well as beer on tap (!). I can stay as late as I want, or come in as early as I want.

One of the things I like about it is that I now have "co-workers," which I've missed. Some have even answered quick research questions I've had.

The other big benefit I love is that the conference rooms have huge whiteboards, so I can brainstorm all over them, which I've never had the space to do before. In January, when I first started renting, I brainstormed the characters and the plot for my next book in two days. I then sat down on the third day and wrote the outline. I've never done that before. I found that having the ability to move around the room to the different whiteboards while I tried to visualize and figure out my novel really worked for me.

Many of the desks have smaller areas to use as a dry-erase surface, and I've used them to quickly write out the emotion I'm trying to go for, or even just the word "Focus" or something like that.

They also have two balconies, so when it gets warmer and I'm looking for a change of scenery, I can work there if I want.

Most of this would be pretty common across shared office spaces.

  • Get out of the house and interacting with the world and people
  • Access to some supplies you might not be able to afford yet (laminator, color laser printer, AV equipment)
  • Creative environment
  • Mailbox
  • Flexible hours
  • Get away from distractions at home (kids, feeling like you need to clean, etc)
  • Tax write-off
  • Fast internet
  • Activates a work mindset

On that last one, I think it's easy to forget how valuable that is. It's one of the reasons I found I worked better at Starbucks initially--because I felt guilty taking up a table if I wasn't actually working. Therefore, no Facebook surfing, etc. With this office space, I'm paying to be there, so I better be utilizing it and not goofing off online.

  • It's an additional monthly expense
  • Can't store items (no bookshelf)

I started trying to think of more, but all of the rest would be things that wouldn't make it ideal for you anyway. For instance, the items I listed in the Pro column might not actually be positive for you. Then you'd know it's not for you. Perhaps you hate being around other people, or you must have it absolutely quiet, etc. Though in general, I've found the shared office environment quieter than the average Starbucks.

As far as the expense, ask if they have flexible plans. Another local writer came one day to have me show her around, and she really liked the idea of getting out of the house, but she couldn't commit to a monthly expense. She asked if they had something that could work for her, and now she can just pay a certain amount whenever she wants to come in. If it's another 2 months before she comes in again, no matter, she just pays for that day, etc.

On storage, I can eliminate that con if I want to pay a little more a month. With that extra fee, I'd have a dedicated desk with my logo on it (so no one else will sit there) and a lockable filing cabinet/storage bin thing. Your space might have something similar.

Final Thoughts

I'm only in my second month, but it's already proved so beneficial to me and made me more productive. Now when I'm on deadline, I can stay as late as I need to instead of having to leave at 8 when Starbucks closes. Or even when I'm not on deadline, I can leave when I'm done working, instead of telling myself that I'll keep working when I get home (which I don't do). I LOVE the whiteboards for brainstorming. And now when I need to have a Skype call I don't have to stay home for it, or take it outside at a table in Starbucks, but can zip into the little room at my appointed time, etc.

How about you? Where do you work? Have you found an ideal working environment yet? Have you looked into a shared office space?

Angela Quarles is a USA Today bestselling author of time travel and steampunk romance. Her debut novel Must Love Breeches swept many unpublished romance contests, including the Grand Prize winner of Windy City's Four Seasons contest in 2012. Her steampunk, Steam Me Up, Rawley, was named Best Self-Published Romance of 2015 by Library Journal. Angela loves history, folklore, and family history. She decided to take this love of history and her active imagination and write stories of romance and adventure for others to enjoy. When not writing, she's either working at the local indie bookstore or enjoying the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls, and creating the occasional knitted scarf.

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About Must Love Kilts: A Time Travel Romance 

The Jacobite Rebellion--not the best time to get drunk, hook up with a guy, and lose your sister.

A drunken bet...

When computer game designer Traci Campbell gets too close and personal with a bottle of Glenfiddich while vacationing in Scotland, she whisks her kilt-obsessed sister back to 1689 to prove hot guys in kilts are a myth. Hello, hundred bucks! But all bets are off when she meets Iain, the charming playboy in a to-die-for kilt.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong name...

Iain MacCowan regularly falls in love at the drop of his kilt. The mysterious red-haired lass with the odd accent is no different. But when his new love is discovered to be a Campbell, the most distrusted name in the Highlands, his dalliance endangers his clan's rebellion against King William.

It’s all hijinks in the Highlands until your sister disappears...

Traci thinks men are only good for one thing--thank you, Iain!--but when she awakens once again in Ye Olde Scotland and her sister is gone, she must depend on the last person she wants to spend more time with. He wants to win a heart, she wants to keep hers, but can these two realize they're meant for each other before the Jacobite rebellion pulls them apart?

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