No matter if you’re operating a traditional practice, meet face-to-face with coaching clients, or run a brick and mortar business, you need space.
But finding the right space if not always easy. Sometimes it can be outright challenging!
Lease payment may be sky-high, terms may be unacceptable, or you might be on the hook for build-out. Whatever obstacle there is, it can make the search for space slow and tedious.
While you could continue to search for the perfect space (… it doesn’t exist!), you may consider another option. Sharing space.
Commonplace in other industries, sharing space in medicine is a relatively new concept. Called Medical Coworking, providers share centrally managed space to maximize resources and reduce overhead.
The idea is similar to the traditional Business Center model, where businesses lease small or even virtual offices. A business center provides professional office space without the expense of renting an entire suite.
In the medical arena, most often, it’s solo providers or wellness entrepreneurs who need smaller spaces. They don’t need 1,000 plus square feet and are okay with just one or maybe two rooms.
So if you are a solo provider needing smaller space, your options are to find a small standalone space, lease space from another provider, or share a lease with another provider. You could share a room or suite or lease a room fulltime so you can use it whenever you want.
But no matter if you’re looking to lease space or if you’re looking to bring someone into your space, there are a few things to consider before making your decision.
Here are the biggest pros and cons of sharing space.
Sharing Space: the Pros
Depending on your particular practice and needs, sharing space may be the perfect route for you. It’s a viable option regardless if used to reduce startup costs or to operate a practice long-term.
While sharing space may not be right for everyone, when it’s a good fit, there are plenty of benefits, including:
- Lower lease/rent payments: paying for a room vs. a suite could add up to significant savings over the length of the lease
- More flexible lease terms: often yearly or even month to month. Most traditional leases may require terms of three or more years, while shared space may require no or shorter lease terms.
- Utilities and other overhead may be included: again, this could add up to significant savings over the term of the lease
- Shared resources, such as equipment and supplies: office equipment and technology can be a considerable expense to acquire and maintain.
- Potential to share staff (front-desk, assistants, billing, etc.): sharing staff may allow for the hiring for additional help, where it may not have been possible before.
- Built-in referrals or cross-referrals: this can work well for providers and benefit patients, as long as there are no violations of anti-kickback or Stark laws.
- Benefit from mutual knowledge and experience: there is another professional to talk to, consult with, and exchange ideas.
- Built-in extended network: it may of mutual benefit to have access to a broader network.
Sharing Space: the Cons
Sharing space may not be right for everyone, nor may it be a good fit for all situations. Here are some things to keep in mind before jumping in:
- Poor fit: bringing in another person into your space or moving into a space may turn out to be a poor fit. There may be personality conflicts, incompatible work styles, or fundamental differences that make it hard to work together.
- Resource utilization: someone is leasing space from you may use far more resources than agreed upon; if you’re renting space from someone, you may not get everything promised to you.
- Interference: regardless if you’re leasing space or renting out space, another person may interfere in how you run your business, no matter if intentional or unintentional.
- Limits your flexibility & decision making: having another person in your space or sharing space means you need to consider them in how you work and operate. You may find it necessary to speak with them before making significant decisions.
- Decorating your Space: there may be limitations to what you’re allowed to with your small space. Be sure to discuss this upfront.
- Potential problems: someone may break the lease, damage equipment, or cause trouble within your organization.
- Competition: if you’re renting space from someone or leasing space to someone in the same discipline, could it hurt your business? Will it lead to competition, or will it further cooperation between providers?
How to Find Space?
Once you decide sharing space is right for you, how do you find it? While there is no surefire way, here are a few suggestions.
- Tap into your network of friends and colleagues. Let them know what you’re looking for.
- If available, place an ad with your state organization website or newsletter, outlining what you’re looking for.
- Start calling offices in your preferred area to see if there is space available.
- Watch online resources like craigslist for available space; use Facebook groups to get the word out.
- Most importantly… talk to people, let them know what you’re looking for, get the word out.
While not right for everyone, renting or sharing space are viable options.
Think about what you expect from the other person in your or their space? How much are you willing to compromise? Are you strictly looking to rent out or rent space, or are you looking for both a renter and a working relationship?
Think twice about how much freedom you’re willing to give up to lower costs? And decide upfront what parameters and clauses you want to see in the rental agreement so that it would work for you.
We want to hear from you! Tell us what you think about sharing space. Any firsthand experience?
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“