My company, 3.7 Designs had the fortune of getting a few mentions and the logo published in the local newspaper. Our initial impression of the article was that it would be a discussion of the collaboration that occurs between the companies in our office, however they instead chose to focus on the “cost savings” of using a shared office space.
That is not to say that it wasn’t a well written article, or that there are significant cost savings to subletting office space vs trying to rent a huge location by yourself, because there is. The value of a well planned collaborative office space goes so far beyond low rent, and I question why more companies do not try it out.
The idea is simple, with a well planned mix of companies you can have all the benefits of a large company with out the overhead. The Kirkwoodgroup, a detroit real estate marketing company originally leased the loft with a handful of employees. While there is no doubt value to employees, and if you find the right people they can be a driving force behind the growth of a business, there are downsides however.
Many employees simply are not going to have the motivation that someone who is in it for their own company do. If you have a salary, and only are required to work 9 – 5 to get that salary, the two common motivators is that you could get a raise by performing better, and to keep your job. However if you are running your own company your motivation is to grow, to maintain a good working relationship, and to continue to collaborate.
In addition if your company hits a dry period, your employees are still costing you in pay, benefits, and time spent managing. Or what if you need additional help only part of the time? There are always freelancers, but often times freelancers find other jobs, could be busy on other projects, and are not likely to work in the exact same office.
What we have in our office is really a perfect fit for all companies. Marketing companies that focus on brand development, target markets, taglines, etc can now quickly and easily collaborate with designers for logos, letterheads, brochures, websites, etc. No weekly scheduled meetings, great communication, and everyone essentially becomes an extension of the other companies in the office. For two of the companies in the office it doesn’t make sense to pay someone a creative director salary when their work is only needed half the time, and since each company has clients of their own there isn’t interdependence.
I highly suggest the collaborative environment. As my company grows, I worry how I can manage it and still work in the environment I am in now because it simply is so – damn – effective. Keep in mind that the environment has to be planned, the companies and people have to compliment each other otherwise it will not be nearly as effective.