Despite tradition, you don’t need an expensive, private office to run your practice. In fact, many small law firms operate without a physical office and rent a virtual office instead. A virtual office isn’t a physical location but provides a physical address to receive correspondence. With a virtual office you’re free to meet clients in your home office or a professional meeting space.
For many firms, a virtual office is a perfect solution, but it’s not perfect for everyone. If you need physical space only an office can provide, coworking is what you’re looking for.
What is a coworking space?
First, let’s clear up some misconceptions about coworking spaces. They’re not overpriced offices stocked with free snacks and coffee, and they don’t attract wanna-be entrepreneurs who want to talk about their latest million-dollar idea.
A coworking space is a professional office space designed to be shared by multiple individuals or businesses. Forbes.com describes coworking as the “use of an office or another flexible work environment and sometimes the sharing of space and equipment, most often by people who are self-employed or work for small-to-medium sized businesses.”
Generally speaking, the only people who are drawn to a coworking space are people who have work to do.
How coworking spaces benefit attorneys
Perhaps the most appealing benefit to renting a coworking space is the ability to meet with clients hassle-free. Your home office might be wonderful, but if a potential client has to fight or pay for parking, you may not win their business.
As an attorney, you need more than office space – you need privacy, especially when meeting with clients. A coworking space can provide you with privacy as long as you rent the right type of space.
For instance, a coworking space isn’t just filled with long tables and random desks claimed on a first-come-first-serve basis. Coworking spaces also provide dedicated, individual offices of all sizes with four walls and a door. You can pay a monthly or yearly fee to rent a specific, private office to meet with your clients in private.
Among the private offices at some locations are executive suites. These are the perfect kind of coworking office space for lawyers because they generally come fully furnished with amenities, business services, and communal spaces. If you don’t want to watch people walking by all day, just put the blinds down.
With a private executive suite, you don’t need a virtual office to get your mail. Most executive suite rentals come with mail delivery services.
Amenities are provided for you and your clients
How many photocopies do you make in a day? Renting a coworking space will give you access to a copier you can use at your leisure. The best part is the lack of maintenance and financial responsibility on your part. If any piece of office equipment breaks from normal use, you won’t have to pay for the repair.
You’ll also have access to free beverages, snacks, and coffee just like you would in a traditional office.
Office space isn’t cheap these days, and in most major cities you can’t get a large office for less than $5,000. In San Francisco and New York, for example, $5,000 will get you 921 square feet and 811 square feet respectively. That’s more expensive than an apartment, and you still have to pay for electricity, internet, equipment, and more.
A private coworking space with four walls and a door can cost several thousand dollars each month, but it’s cheaper since you don’t need to pay for utilities, internet, or even toilet paper.
How to choose the right coworking location
Not all coworking locations are the same. You really need to check out your options in person before committing to one. The location of your office is of equal importance to the layout and amenities provided. For instance, you probably don’t want to get stuck in traffic on your way home. Don’t wait until you’ve signed a year-long contract to find out how much time you’re going to spend driving to and from your new office.
Make a list of all the coworking locations you can find, check them out online to eliminate any obvious mismatches, and then schedule a tour for the rest. Choose a location that best provides what you need at a reasonable price, and your practice will reap the rewards.
I am a freelancer, so coworking space is my second home. Today’s workers crave flexibility. They enjoy completing tasks according to their own schedules, instead of arriving at the office and leaving work at the same time every single day.