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Commercial real estate confronting coworking spaces

Commercial real estate matters involve changing economies and trends that also impact other businesses, such as transportation and retailing. Landlords, companies and professionals in real estate law should be prepared to address the growing popularity of coworking spaces.

Coworking gets praise as a more innovative use of office space. It falls between the practice of working from home and working from a fully equipped office for one business. Small businesses and entrepreneurs also consider this a networking location. One example, WeWork, was an early innovator in this field, but its initial public stock offering was criticized.

In a coworking space, workers from different companies share office space to reduce expenses and increase convenience. Tenants share facilities and personnel and their costs, including:

  • Furniture
  • Equipment
  • Utilities
  • Meeting spaces
  • Receptionists
  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning services

Coworking has many budget options. These spaces can have a range of options, such as private suites and various types of work areas. Many contain a "hot desk" that allows worker access for one day a week to several days a month, depending on their needs.

Coworking may also present networking opportunities for its different tenants. Tenants have presented events, seminars and fitness classes. Coworking, however, may lower productivity for workers who are used to a controlled workspace, such as a home office or a traditional office. Workers may be bothered by officemates who talk too loudly, eat at their desks and engage in other disrupting or annoying behavior.

Tenants may also enter arrangements that surpass their budget and their needs. They should assure that they do not pay for expenses, such as conference rooms or other facilities, when they may only need a workspace with a desk. For those engaged in real estate involving office buildings and other commercial spaces, this trend presents new issues pertaining to leases, such as liability, lease drafting and rent payments.

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