An office in a multi-company building; suitable for you?
- Jeanine Hoekstra
- 23 September 2019
- Edited 6 February 2024
- 4 min
If you own a business but do not have your own office space, you can choose to rent office space in a multi-company building. There, you can work alongside fellow entrepreneurs and save money. At the same time, multi-company buildings can get hectic, which is not for everyone. Read all about the pros and cons of shared workspaces and discover whether it might be suitable for you.
You can rent a workplace in a collective building if you are a self-employed professional without staff (zzp'er). But also if you have employees or do business with a partner. Entrepreneurs explain why such a shared office works for them. Buro Dertig, the communication agency of Floor van den Elsen and Malou te Wierik, for instance, is located in Hooghiemstra in Utrecht. Van den Elsen finds working from shared premises ideal. "You're sitting with like-minded people and there are many facilities that you don't have to arrange yourself."
Pros of a multi-company building
Many self-employed professionals work from home. But spending all day cooped up in your attic or at your kitchen table can feel pretty lonely. In a multi-company building, you will always find someone looking for a chat or willing to talk strategy. And they often organise joint activities or parties, so it will still feel as if you have colleagues. And that is not the only benefit of working in a multi-company building.
Multi-company buildings will often have lots of amenities for you to share with the other tenants, such as toilets, a kitchen or coffee bar, meeting rooms and cleaning services. This saves you both time and money. Some buildings even offer shared cars. Multi-company buildings are a great entry-level option, because you can even choose to rent a single desk or room, which costs a lot less than a full office.
That is exactly how Van den Elsen and Te Wierik got started 7 years ago. “At first, we were renting a desk in another multi-company building, but soon we wanted a place to ourselves with more amenities. Here, for example, you have a reception that receives parcels or visitors for you. There are even loaner bikes! Handy if you have a flat tyre. Also, the building is very central."
In a multi-company building, you know your neighbours and they know you, which gives you a large network right off the bat. You can ask fellow entrepreneurs for assignments or refer people from your network to them. And the other way around, you can use the other entrepreneurs' network.
For Timo Bralts, these networking opportunities are a reason to only rent space to creative entrepreneurs. He runs a design agency together with his business partner Bert ter Horst. Last year, they opened Komponent, a business centre in the Deventer Havenkwartier: "It is handy that you can outsource work that you are not so good at yourself to someone in the same building".
Every multi-company building has its own terms and conditions, but most give their tenants plenty of flexibility. Bralts: “We do not have long-term contracts. I am convinced that you have to create attractive spaces that people actually want to work in.”
That makes it easy to move to another building or city if necessary. Or to move on to a larger office, as Buro Dertig did at Hooghiemstra. "In a company building, growing is easier," says Van den Elsen. "When a nice space became available here with bell booths and a meeting area, we quite spontaneously decided to rent it. We are still in that office today."
Disadvantages of a shared office
Even the biggest fans of shared offices will admit that working in a multi-company building also has its drawbacks. Shared amenities might not always be available: if you do not reserve a meeting room in advance, chances are it will be taken.
Lack of privacy
Whereas you can spend the entire day video conferencing with customers or blasting your favourite tunes out loud if you work from home, you will have to respect the people around you in a shared workplace. Apart from the fact that your conversations could be a nuisance to your fellow entrepreneurs, you might also be talking about confidential matters. So, it is always a good idea to see whether the building has separate spaces for private phone calls. Alternatively, you could rent your own space instead of just a desk.
For some companies, status is a particularly important consideration. When that is the case, having your own premises might be a better option. This will give you free reign in designing your own building, while in a multi-company building 10 other names are on the door. In a multi-company building, you have little to no control over who the other tenants are.
Is a shared office right for you?
Making a list of pros and cons can help you determine whether a shared workspace is the right option for you. Before you make your final decision, check out the building you have in mind. Things to consider or ask about include:
- Who the other tenants are. Are they a good fit for your company?
- What amenities the multi-company building has to offer. Is there a separate room that you can work in quietly? What is the coffee like? Is there is a room to meet your customers?
- Whether the lessor has house rules. Can you accept these rules?
- What the ambience is like. Is it too formal or too casual maybe?
- The costs. Does the contract clearly state what costs are included in the rental?
- The notice period. How long is it and does the notice period suit how flexible you want to be?
- The layout and furniture. Is it included in the rent or can you furnish your workspace yourself?
- Joint activities. Are there joint get-togethers, networking meetings or parties? And is participation mandatory?
You can find out about the supply of multi-tenant business premises online. For example, through online platforms where providers advertise their workspaces and office space. Visit several multi-tenant buildings. Talk to the landlord, but also to other tenants. How do they like working in this building? What do they think are the advantages and disadvantages? Only when you have tasted the atmosphere can you make a choice.
Cost of renting office space
Renting office space in a collective building is a lot cheaper than renting your own premises. You can get an office from as little as around 150 euros per month. This amount increases if you have more requirements in terms of space and facilities.
Whether you choose a business centre or your own office, renting office space can give you tax benefits. Costs such as rent, energy, cleaning, furnishing and insurance can be deducted from your business .
Some business centres offer discounts for starting entrepreneurs. Van den Elsen: "At Hooghiemstra, the rule is: the younger your business, the more discount. Very sympathetic, because when you are just starting out you do not want to pay rent right away."
KVK-registration and business address
Registering your business with KVK at the address of the business centre is only possible if you rent for a longer period. Upon registration, we will check your rental contract. For example, do you only rent space in a multi-company building for two hours a week? Then you cannot register at this address.
Find out if the landlord of your collective property has arranged insurance. Examples include buildings insurance, fire insurance and glass insurance. If you pay for the furnishing of your office yourself, consider taking out inventory insurance.