According to a post by the Grand Rapids Business Journal, there are a lot of advantages for startups and small businesses to use a shared office space or coworking space. A shared office space such as Offix can provide you with private offices, private desks, waiting rooms, kitchens, board rooms, shared space, video conference rooms, and meeting rooms. These coworking or shared offices also offer amenities such as high-speed internet, power, heating, ventilation, and cleaning services. To gain all of those bonuses for your small business at a fraction of the cost of a commercial office space is definitely a win. But are there legal aspects to consider when choosing a shared office space?
Who is Responsible for the Space?
One of the first legal questions that may come up when you are considering a shared office space is who will be responsible for that space. As NOLO explains, the responsibility for a shared space is likely to be equally shared between those who use it. Many shared office buildings offer cleaning services, but there is still the responsibility of taking care of the space, the furnishings, the equipment, and more. Keep in mind that your business could be partially responsible should anything be broken or stolen. It is a good idea to make sure that such issues are covered by insurance.
What About Confidentiality?
Confidentiality is another concern for those who are considering a shared office space. This could especially be an issue if a competitor is sharing a space in the same office building. As GRBJ asks, what would happen if that competitor used the printer right after you did and made a copy of something that was confidential to your business? Or what if you step away and forget to shut your laptop, and someone reads all of your emails? Unfortunately, trust is not an affordable luxury in the business world. If you are going to share office space, it is absolutely vital that you take precautions to ensure that confidential paperwork, emails, phone calls, meetings, discussions, and other types of information is protected. Even what you throw into the trash can must be monitored.
Is Ownership of the Building an Issue?
It is also important to be aware of the ownership of the building before depending on it as a semi-permanent fixture for your business. If the owner of the building does not keep up with utilities, lease payments, etc., then the repercussions could be devastating for anyone who is using the building for a shared office space. There is nothing wrong with asking for a copy of the building’s lease agreement before signing one of your own. It is also a good idea to check the background of the owner of the building. Companies like Offix are established and offer stability to those seeking a space to move their startup.
Those are a few considerations to think about when deciding on a commercial office building for a shared office space. There are, of course, many other things that should be taken into account. It is a good idea for you to have any lease agreements and paperwork looked over by a lawyer before you sign on that dotted line.