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Shared Work Space is on the Rise

By Juliette Fairley

NEW YORK (MainStreet)--As the economy slowly recovers, more nonprofits are turning to shared workspace alternatives to meet occupancy needs with for profit companies only a few steps behind in the national trend.

There are now 800 commercial shared work space facilities in the United States. That's up from about 300 in 2011, according to Deskmag's Annual Global Coworking Survey.

"What's new is that in the last five years companies are taking full advantage of the proximity by sharing back office expenses, such as human resources, accounting, IT and contracts," said Megan Devenport, project coordinator with

While non-profits, real estate professionals and foundations are applying shared space models across the country, Denver is ahead of the curve with more than 25 self-identified shared space centers. At least two non-profits that share work space with three others at the Colorado Collaborative for Non-Profits in Denver reported a 30% drop in occupancy cost.

"The other non-profits in the space reported accessing a higher quality of internet service, phone system and copier," said Devenport.

Other states at the forefront of the movement include Connecticut and Texas.

"Vancouver, Canada is the leader in this area but the trend is carrying over into the for-profit world nationwide," Devenport told

About 71% of workers in a shared office experienced a boost in creativity since joining such a space and 62% said their standard of work had improved, according to the study by Deskmag, which covers the co-working industry.

"Shared work space is now a tool for achieving a higher level of collaboration," said Devenport.

Tips for non-profits and companies seeking to move into a shared work space include the following:

  • 1. Identify an organization whose mission aligns or that provides a complimentary service.
  • 2. Visit the space bank at to find potential roommates and available space.
  • 3. Implement an agreement that includes expectations for cleanliness, sound and time investment around interacting or developing collaboration.
  • 4. Establish a pro-rata rate for sharing back office expenses, such as an administrative assistant or office manager. The larger organization may pay 60% while the smaller organization pays 40%, for example.
  • 5. Agree on a per-head flat rate that everyone pays to cover office supplies. "Some organizations prefer to keep office supplies in house but we see economies of scales when you were able to develop a system that some else administers for supplies," said Devenport. "In our office, it's $50 a month per person fee, which covers office supplies and consumables, such as coffee."

--Writen by Juliette Fairley