My co-founder 'Bob', and myself have been working out of separate locations for about 2 years. Bob and I built the business together and we both own an equal share.

We are looking to get an office together in order to more efficiently handle an increased workload. Bob strongly insists on me using his office full-time. However, a one way trip takes ~1 hour of my day and less than 10 minutes of his. In addition, the office itself is shared with other people, whom have nothing to do with the business. Bob has good relationships with them. I feel like this makes him reluctant to leave, although he won't admit to it.

I've argued these points and I've suggested that with increased supply for office space, we could easily find an affordable location which works for the both of us. Unfortunately, Bob is very persistent and I am not willing to give in to this. I would like to avoid a power-struggle situation as this could really put a strain on our relationship.

Thank you for your input :)

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    It IS a power struggle situation, that's unavoidable. – Kilisi Apr 28 '16 at 21:20
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    Do you have anything other than personal woes to stake your claim on? If there's no return on investing in a new office space when/because a perfectly good space is already in use, moving may come off as a bad idea. That's of course just one example. – CKM Apr 28 '16 at 21:24
  • Presumably, the alternative would be to use the OP's current office for both. – Patricia Shanahan Apr 28 '16 at 21:28
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    This is entirely interpersonal negotiations. You two need to find a compromise, and only you two know what things you'd be willing to trade away. Personal reaction: if he insists without offering anything in return, that bodes ill for your business's survival. Giving up the idea to co-locate may be the best option available. – keshlam Apr 28 '16 at 21:39
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    Just work remotely, you don't work for him so he can't say no to that. – user7230 Apr 28 '16 at 21:39

Very respectfully insist that wasting 2 hours of your day commuting is off the table. Offer to find an office mid-way between you, such that you guys have a similar commute.

Be polite, and reasonable, but don't back down, and don't give in.

Don't be afraid to say that you feel like he is not valuing your time if he gets really pushy and unreasonable.

If he doesn't compromise you may wish to reassess your business relationship.

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Focus on negotiating based on the business points that make you both successful. What do you both need, together, that one office or the other does not have? Good connectivity? A private space? Is there a new idea that makes something more important than many other considerations? "Hey bob, I saw this place at X that can help us [do the thing with more awesome and less suck, however that is defined for you] because [reason]. Would you at least look at it with me?"

If you can get Bob that far, have a game plan going into showing the space. Focus less on what YOU like about it, why does BOB care? What is in it for Bob? You already know your stuff, but your objective is to make this new and exciting for bob. Draw bob in: "hey bob, I was hoping for your advice, what is the best way to [put in your desk|get common ideas|add a whiteboard|bring in customers]."

Don't be afraid to "go to the balcony" if the discussion is getting uncomfortable or personal. Take the time to cool so bob can think about whats important and you can too. This can mean you find reasons to go for coffee or otherwise take a "natural" break that can help you control the pace without being completely transparent in what you are trying to do and why.

Consider showing Bob a couple places you dont like and then one he really will, the more that you can get bob to take ownership of selling YOU on something because he thinks you are tied to place 1 or place 2, the better chance you have getting him off his original position of "I dont care about any of these, Im not going".

The key here is to draw out what the objective things are that Bob needs and that you need, find opportunities for a shared win, and the more of it that bob can participate in taking ownership in the win, the better for you both.

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  • Incidentally, I personally recommend a text called "Getting to Yes" by William Ury. Its a spectacularly useful primer on the Harvard approach to negotiation, and even if you dont buy into everything, there are tools that can be in your toolbox forever in anything you have to negotiate: office space, price with customer, movie or car show with the wife, anything. – ThatGuy Apr 29 '16 at 15:04

You need to make some type of compromise. Only go a few days a week. Use some of the time you're together to work on things like Skype or chat to be able to work when remote.

There could be a cafe that is closer to your that could be used a day or two.

He doesn't want to give up his office, but it is not reasonable for you to be burdened with unnecessary commute. If the company is paying for his space, you may want to look for less expensive spaces closer to you. That may be enough leverage to make him consider a compromise.

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