Have you considered coworking spaces to help reduce or maintain the cost of your rent? Many companies are turning to coworking to accommodate their growing geographically dispersed workforce.

New mobile devices and cloud computing are contributing significantly to the emergence of coworking environments.  Deskmag, an online magazine, indicates in its Global Coworking survey that there now are more than 1,300 coworking spaces around the world, which represents a doubling in size since 2006. And it’s not just for big cities. While many of these spaces exist in large cities. The latest trend in the U.S. has been the expansion of shared workspaces in small cities with average populations of 20,000 people.

Contracts or ‘memberships’ can be flexible to ease the burden on budgets.  A membership with access to the Internet, works areas, conference rooms and other services like printing, faxing and scanning can even be month to month and/or part time for a set number of days per week.

Saving rent money is not the only motivator behind the coworking office space trend. New co-shared office environments are popular among many companies – both emerging and established – because they are sparking a new informal collaboration among employees of different organizations.  Out of that collaboration is a hope for new ideas and creative problem solving, says the Wall Street Journal in “Looking for Ideas in Shared Workspaces.” (Note Plantronics is mentioned in the article.) 

Some coworking spaces even have professional events to encourage more collaboration. DeskMag notes that the majority of coworking spaces hold two events each month (21%). These may be workshops, meet-ups, breakfasts, professional classes or conferences.

Co-working means cooperating about noise

Still even with their popularity, coworking environments pose some challenges. While privacy is not so much of an  issue; noise can be, writes the New York Times in “From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz.”  New solutions to mask noise are emerging in coworking spaces as well as in companies, such as Plantronics, that have opted for a Smarter Working environment with  open workspaces and small casual meeting areas.

The NYT notes, “Companies are redesigning offices, piping in special background noise to improve the acoustics and bringing in engineers to solve volume issues.” Many workers are employing headsets to help create a private space.

Conversation isn’t the only source of noise in the office. Sound-activated keystrokes and “You’ve got mail” announcements too can break your concentration.  If you are considering contracting for co-shared space for some of your team because of the cost and collaboration benefits, ask if they have a written policy on office etiquette. You don’t want to drive an employee to distraction because someone slurps coffee too loudly.