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I run a smallish office of 10 or so software developers. We lease a regular, physical office, but during the COVID period, it has become clear that most people are comfortable working from home, and just as productive.

The lease will end soon. One possibility at this point is to switch to a "serviced office" (also called "flexible office") -- the likes of Regus, to mention one -- for the sake of having a physical presence and for the few people who can't afford working from home, while letting everyone else work from home.

  • Do you have any experience with this kind of setup?
  • Does it work if you establish a rotation of people to come to the same physical desk on different weekdays?
  • Have you experienced any downsides?
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  • While there are lots of factors to consider, you should also keep things like public representation, hq-adress, deliveries, tax-deductions, requirments for physical meetings with customers or employees in mind when making such decisions.. Obviously potential future growth and employee size as well as mgmt-structure should also be taken into consideration since your decision will affect the business in the long run. – iLuvLogix Feb 5 at 8:58
  • Why don't you want to return to normal after the crisis? – Kilisi Feb 5 at 9:24
  • @Kilisi: Not OP, but there are significant cost differences between a leased building and renting office space flexibly. Given the shift to working from home, it's no wonder OP is considering shifting to a cheaper physical presence solution as it will be used considerably less than before the wfh shift. – Flater Feb 5 at 9:57
  • OP here -- indeed, i back @Flater 's points. A lease in this part of the world (Amsterdam) runs at least 3 years and often 5, which leaves very little in the way of flexibility. – Guido Domenici Feb 5 at 10:13
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    The lease will end soon. Have you tried to negotiate for a better price? Given the context, with many people working from home, there may be less companies looking for office space. Maybe they can lease to you for a smaller price than to risk having the office empty with no other lease contract. It's worth a try I think... – Bogdan Feb 5 at 17:16
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Shift work, and in particular not having a personal desk (called hot desking) is the norm in many industries and companies. It's not a new concept. I haven't seen it with software developers, but I have with other professionals. It's definitely a step down though in convenience and perceived status. Just like your own office is higher status usually then a cubicle.

The main downside is that without a dedicated workspace you cannot customise it or leave your personal belongings there, it becomes just a workspace. Your personal space becomes your locker.

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    If there's no locker your personal space becomes your bag, if no bag then the contents of your shoes – Kilisi Feb 6 at 2:15
  • Because of Covid I’ve switched from a 13’x13’ cubicle with tons of storage and horizontal surfaces to clutter to a back pack. It forced me to prioritize, digitize, and organize my work in a way nothing else ever could. I’m more deliberate, efficient, and focused. My work/home separation is better bc I can’t make my desk a “home away from home.” Not being able to “personalize” or leave your stuff hanging around at work isn’t necessarily a bad thing, always. For some it’s distracting. Tools, materials, etc is another story but the Dilbert mug and Hello Kitty desk calendar? Fun, but fruitless. – Jax Feb 9 at 15:36
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    @Jax different things work for different people I guess, many would find your situation frustrating and sub optimal. The perceived status is still an issue as that's an outside factor. – Kilisi Feb 9 at 15:47
  • Yes, this is not totally uncommon. Though I think the common term for sharing one's desk is "hot desking". "Shift work" is simply if you establish work shifts to make sure employees are present when needed. I edited to clarify (hope you don't mind). – sleske Feb 11 at 8:41
  • @sleske thanks, good edit – Kilisi Feb 11 at 9:30
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I work for a startup where we're just two devs (including myself), and we both work from home. We like it, but we decided we still wanted to see each other from time to time, so we have a membership to one of these flexible offices, where we can go about 5 times a month.

What we like:

  • the flexibility to work from home, but also see other humans every once in a while
  • the ability to change the office location: the benefit of large flexible offices companies is that they offer many different locations, and thus we can alternate between close to his place, or close to mine. Your employees might like an arrangement where they decide where to work, and possibly change from time to time.
  • the ability to "shop around": since we can easily change where we go, we can sample the environment, and decide which place(s) we like the best

Obviously, it's much simpler to please two people than ten, but I think we'll keep this arrangement even as the company grows.

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"Actually, I did this once." I got tired of "my office" being "in my home." So, I rented a very small office within walking distance and actually walked there with my laptop in my shoulder bag.

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