The flexible workspace sector is home to all types of different types of work spaces and combinations of places to conduct business. Those who are “in the know” about office situations understand the subtle differences between a coworking space and a shared office (a serviced office in a business centre). The differences between coworking and business centre office solutions are an often-debated topic between those who are using coworking facilities to run their businesses, and those businesses who have chosen to use the facilities and services of an office business centre. So let’s look at the similarities and the differences.

Many will tell you that cost is the biggest difference, but in fact, some coworking plans will cost you upwards of $300 per month. Yet, you can get a shared office space at an office business centre for as low as $225 per month. More importantly, an office business centre that offers shared office space, can give you 24-hour access 365 days a year. There are few coworking centres that can offer that.

Those who evangelize coworking spaces will probably sound like a broken record when they try to tell you that “it’s not just a shared office” and claim that they offer more of an entrepreneurial vibe, a sense of community, a sharing of knowledge, a chance to learn from those around you. But the same can be said about a shared office environment in a professional business centre with hundreds of other businesses. Office business centres simply have more choices regarding office solutions. When the time comes to take more private office space, the community of other businesses remains the same. However, it might be just down the hall or in the next office over. You will still see many of the same people in the coffee room and maybe some new faces too.

What about the professionalism? It is true that coworking centres can offer a great place to work and allow for more collaborations and interactions, but what do your customers think of this type of “coffee-shop-like” place you are working from? Most coworking spaces do offer at least one meeting room for members to have a private meeting with clients. But very few have 7 or more meeting rooms and boardrooms of various sizes. At a business centre, you might be sharing a workspace with several other businesses, but your clients and customers do not need to know that. When your clients presents themselves at the reception area of an office business centre, you are informed of their arrival and can take them to the meeting room you booked without them seeing the actual office space that you work in.

Your business location is also important to your clients. But what if it is in a non-downtown location that is not known for being a place of business? Coworking centres can be great, but they often do not have prestigious and professional business addresses. Some coworking spaces offer a great place to work, but they are not set up to be a place to receive your business mail or courier deliveries. An office business centre not only gives you a prime business address, staffers there can receive your mail and courier packages even when you are not physically present.

As your business develops, it makes sense to review your location periodically. Your style of working and size of operation may be better suited to a private office or a private team space. These are not normally offered by a coworking space, unless it is housed in an office business centre that offers various styles of office spaces. If you are working in a coworking centre that also offers private offices and team spaces, that is great. But what if they do not? Moving to your own space is not only costly, but can cause confusion to your customers in terms of your business address. In an office business centre that offers shared office space and other office environments, you can move into another space without having to change your business address.

There are a range of facilities which should be a given on your checklist when you consider putting your business in a coworking space or a serviced shared office. Whichever you choose, you want to make sure you have access to all of these amenities:

  • On-site parking available free or nearby at a small fee for your visitors.
  • A professional receptionist to greet your guests and direct them to your meeting.
  • High speed Wi-Fi for quick, uninterrupted internet usage.
  • Phone and postal services.
  • Meeting facilities in the form of bookable boardrooms and small meeting rooms.
  • Access to a kitchen, with filtered water, tea and coffee-making equipment and a fridge and microwave oven.
  • Modern, well maintained bathroom amenities that reflect the standard of your business environment.

Besides available amenities at your coworking or shared office space, you might also want to learn what other services are available to you as a member or client. Often times, when a business is considering where they want to work, they forget about some of the services that they may need done on an a-la-carte basis. A shared office in a professional business centre will often offer things like secretarial services on demand, network printing, colour photocopiers, binding services, mail forwarding, live professional receptionist answering your business calls, video conferencing, VoIP telephones that allow you to receive and make calls twhen you are not in your office, as well as other concierge-style services that are not offered by stand-alone coworking centres.