Should CAs use a Co-working space or set up their own Office?

Co-working spaces in India have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years and a lot of CAs are opting for co-working spaces as compared to setting up their own independent office.

In this article, I’ll try to compare a co-working space with an independent office space by highlighting the features, advantages and disadvantages of both.

What is a co-working space?

A Co-working space refers to a shared space wherein several start-ups work from the same office space. It’s an open environment and all the start-ups working there use shared infrastructure like Furniture, Printer, Electricity, Internet, Water, House-Keeping, Cafeteria etc.

A co-working space is leased on a per seat basis and costs around Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000 per seat depending on the location and the infrastructure of the co-working space. You have to only take your laptop to the office as therest of the facilities are taken care of, without any extra cost. Some popular co-working spaces in India are 91Springboard, Innov8, WeWork etc.

Features of a co-working Space

  1. No fixed cost on rent
  2. Variable charges depending on the no. of seats/employees
  3. Low initial investment required on furniture and infrastructure
  4. Shared facilities like a printer, internet, water, electricity, house-keeping and security at no extra cost.
  5. Coffee machines
  6. Meeting rooms for client meetings, internal team meetings etc.
  7. Open culture, lesser privacy
  8. Limited storage space

Coworking space

Co-working Space as an option for CAs

Recently, a lot of CAs have started opting for co-working spaces as it is a cheaper alternative to an independent office space

Based on the idea that humans don’t like to be alone and like to be with other people, co-working spaces have a lively environment as there are a lot of entrepreneurs around you.

Moreover, you also get to interact with other small business who may be needing a CA. So in some cases – CAs are also able to get clients from co-working spaces.

A co-working space works well if the team size is small. However, in case the team size grows big – a co-working space may turn out to be a bit expensive.

Private office as an option for CAs

As the name suggests – this office is private and is only accessible to you and your employees. Here, you can customise the infrastructure and furniture as per your needs and requirements.

Features of a Private Office Space

  1. Fixed cost for rent/purchase the office space
  2. Variable charges are less
  3. High initial investment required for setting up infrastructure and furniture
  4. Complete privacy unlike co-working spaces
  5. Lots of storage space

Private Office

Co-working space vis-a-vis private office space

1. Brand Impression

However, this is a flawed approachas a client should select a CA based on his knowledge and not on the basis of his office.

The client may think that the CA is using a co-working space as his practice is not flourishing and therefore may not opt for such a CA. On the other hand – if the private office is at a good location with good interiors – the client may perceive the CA to be good as his practice is flourishing and hence may opt for him.

As a co-working space is a cheaper alternative to a private office space, in some cases, a co-working space may not leave a good brand impression on the client.

2. Fixed Cost vs Variable Costs

As co-working spaces charge you on a per seat basis – there are just variable costs involved. However, in case of a private office space – there are a lot of fixed costs like office rent, electricity charges, house-keeping, security etc.

3. Privacy

Co-working offices are usually open spaces and offer less privacy as compared to private offices that offer complete privacy.

4. Storage Space

Most co-working offices offer limited storage space. But, for CAs – storage space is a very important feature as they have to maintain a lot of files and records on behalf of their clients. Storage space is usually not an issue in private offices as they have a lot of storage space. Hence, some CAs have a preference for private spaces.

5. Social Circle

On the other hand – there are a lot of small businesses working in a co-working space thereby facilitating interaction among people from different companies.

A private office space is only accessible to you and your employees as a result of which your social circle also gets limited.

6. Office Maintenance and Support Staff

In case of a co-working space – you don’t have to worry about office maintenance and support staff for cleaning the office, security services, etc. as all these are offered by the providers and you don’t have to spend your time, money and energy on maintaining the office.

7. Cabin vs Open Seat

A co-working space offers you an open seat with the option to book a meeting room for client meetings. However, it does not offer you a private cabin which is there in a private office space.

Which one is better – co-working spaces or own office?

It is very difficult to generalise which one is better as it depends on the requirements and position of the firm. In the initial stages, some people prefer that a co-working space is better as there’s no upfront investment needed. However, as the firm grows it’s difficult to accommodate all employees and client needs by co-working.

Between 2014 to 2016 – a lot of CA’s opted for co-working spaces as there is no upfront one-time investment and are also comparatively cheaper to a private office space.

However, this trend has started to change due to easy availability of CA loans by various banks and NBFCs like Bajaj Finserv which offer loans to CAs without any collateral or security. As CAs are free to use this loan for any purpose, a lot of CAs have started opting for such loans which helps them set-up their office, pay salaries to employees or fund their working capital requirements.

Easy access to finance has paved way for many CAs opting for private office spaces. Some believe that by operating in a co-working space, they were only able to get small clients as big clients were apprehensive in giving them work

While making this decision it is better to weigh both your options carefully before finalising anyone of them. It is always advisable to seek reviews of your seniors or people who have used co-working spaces as they would be able to guide you better.