Co-working is a popular, flexible work style for sharing a workspace and reducing overhead costs for the users. Users can choose an unassigned seat at a desk or a more formal private office setting. Co-working is on the rise in many industries but special care and concern should be noted for professions such as law that require confidentiality.
What is a user office agreement?
There are many companies that offer co-working facilities, especially in urban environments and these providers will often require the user to sign a User Office Agreement. The agreement should clearly state that it is not a landlord/tenant lease. In fact, the landlord is the owner of the building, where as the co-work provider is the tenant and the member is a co-work user.
Co-working agreements resemble a gym membership more then a lease agreement. For example, the user agreement will list certain “house rules,” which give users the day-to-day rules regarding using the space and sharing it with other users. Some of the key provisions to look for before signing a user agreement in addition to the fees to be paid are:
- Term — A user should review the term of the agreement. Is it month-to-month or annual? How does a user cancel? Is there a notice period?
- Amenities — A user will want to understand what amenities comes with the member’s agreement, such as use of copy machines (or is there a printing fee?), coffee, refreshments, mail delivery services, networking events and file storage/lockers.
- Access — Can the user access the space 7 days a week/365 days a year (24 hours a day) with a key card or does the particular facility have closed hours.
- Relocation Rights — If a user selects a formal office with walls and locked door, the user should be aware of any relocation rights the provider may have. Relocation rights basically give the provider the right to move the user to a different office, which may or may not have the same square footage, to accommodate a new user.
- Internet — The provider may provide free WiFi along with certain disclaimers regarding liability and damage to the user’s business. Some providers will request users waive any rights in the event of a data breach. This provision should be reviewed carefully especially for legal or financial industry users who may work with sensitive information.
- Disputes — As with many other contracts, the method for resolving disputes — arbitration, mediation or litigation — should be specified.
The Bottom Line
Co-working is becoming a popular alternative to the traditional office lease. Users should review the user agreement to ensure that it provides for a productive and economical work style.