Hybrid Office Sharing sees two businesses using the same office space on different days of the week. There are many benefits to the format: businesses generate substantial savings and offset an average of 50% of their carbon office impact. Each business can still bring their entire team together for 2 to 3 days each week to drive collaboration and culture. Team members have a consistent working pattern that they can design their lives around.
In 2020, recruitment business leader Jon Dweck realised that his employees weren’t ever going to want to return to the office five days a week. He wasn’t alone; as the world emerged from the pandemic, many businesses adopted a structure where employees were only asked to come into the office for two or three days. The result was a city of empty workplaces – still incurring charges and consuming energy – for half the working week. To solve this problem, Jon founded Space32 to help other companies find available space in hybrid offices.
Space32 has now supported 20 businesses with office-sharing deals, saving a combined total of £1.5 million in rental costs per year, and provided advice for many more. Here are some of the most important things Jon has learnt along the way.
1. Respect the other sharer
When sharing an office, both parties need to be respectful of each other. Hybrid offices only work well when both companies respect each other and the space, leaving it as they wish to find it. Implementing a ‘clean desk policy’, where employees clear their workstations of personal belongings at the end of the day are useful to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.
It’s natural to come across the odd teething problem – particularly in the first couple of weeks – as you change previously established behaviours. Business leaders need to be comfortable with this period of change and have a degree of flexibility while the dust settles.
We’ve seen some great relationships emerge as a result of office sharing. For example, Ocean Bottle and Anthemis are sharing an amazing space in Soho Square and have established ‘priority days’. This means that while one company will have the main run of the office on agreed days, the other business is still able to use meeting rooms, side offices and communal facilities, if required. They have a great level of respect for one another and together, they’ve found a rhythm that works well for both.
2. Choose your days wisely
If you’re sharing the same space with another company, the way the days are split is crucial. We’ve spent a lot of time working to identify the best fixed-day combinations so that both companies benefit.
While Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have become the main ‘office days’ for many businesses, it does not work for office-sharing. The other business is left with Monday and Friday – both of which are less popular office days with employees.
We’ve found that a good compromise for plenty of companies is a 50/50 split; for example, one business occupies the space on Monday and Thursday, and the other on Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday might be alternated between the companies or it becomes a free-for-all, with both businesses sharing the space and giving employees the option to use it. This can be great for fostering positive business relations.
Additionally, one company we’ve recently worked with has opted to use the office on Friday because they know that the other company won’t be present on those days. This means they have the full run of a 5,000 square foot space for an extra day a week, at the fraction of the cost they would normally pay if they had exclusive rights to it five days a week. Savvy business leaders will be able to take advantage of what’s out there in the market if they don’t have a fixed mindset.
3. Set the rhythm of your week
One of the major benefits of sharing your office space is that you can bring the entire team together for set days every week, changing the flow of your working week to make it more productive. One-to-one meetings, training and development, collaborative sessions and socialising opportunities can all be scheduled for office days when face-to-face contact is guaranteed. Individual focus work that can be more easily carried out remotely (with less distractions) can then be prioritised for the other days employees work from home.
Being firm about the days your employees come into the office can seem daunting at first. We’ve heard from business leaders who have concerns about the happiness of their staff (who may have fallen into their own set rhythms if they’re working from home all the time) and are consequently worried about staff retention. However, we’ve had consistently positive feedback from companies who have been through the process. Having fixed office days removes any ambiguity and gives employees a firm structure to their working week, helping them to organise the rest of their lives appropriately.
4. Invest a small amount to get the environment right
Generally, office sharing is most successful when you don’t even consider that another organisation is using the space on the days you aren’t there. This means that the office environment needs to be set up in a way that makes the sharing process easy, hassle-free and convenient for everyone. This costs far less than you might think. One 35 desk office spent less than £2000 getting their space ready for sharing. Some of the facilities and services you might want to consider include:
A daily cleaner who is briefed on expectations between changeovers
Communal refreshments that are regularly restocked
Monitors on desks so that employees can plug in and use two screens
Lockable cabinets for teams to safely store items on days they aren’t in the office
A variety of spaces (e.g. meeting rooms, individual desks and relaxation areas) to facilitate different styles of working and encourage socialising.
We’ve also discovered that office sharers have a hidden benefit of not having to pay for the office fit-out. It’s not unusual for a company with a conventional office lease to pay £200,000–£300,000 upfront for a fit-out to make an empty space workable. Space seekers moving into a pre-established office for a couple of days a week can take advantage of the fit-out that they didn’t have to pay for in addition to accessing an array of facilities they wouldn’t ordinarily get within a serviced office.
5. The legalities aren’t that complicated
While it might seem like there’s additional admin involved in office sharing, it can be a surprisingly smooth process – and the legalities aren’t as complicated as you might think.
The agreement for office sharing is effectively a license to occupy and the same deal you would have with a serviced office or coworking provider. The only difference is that you’ll have set parameters for the days and times you can use the space. Standard business insurance policies don’t need to be amended (although always speak to your insurer in the first instance if you have any concerns).
At Space32, we support business leaders through this process. The hard work is done for you – we’ve created all the necessary legal templates to help you with your agreement, and we’re on hand to provide expert advice every step of the way.
Considering office sharing? Space32 can help.
We’re here to help you find an office worth leaving the house for. Our expert team is on hand to help you find an office that’s perfect for your needs and navigate the terms to get you up and running. Take a look at our available spaces or find out how much your space could generate get in touch at email@example.com.