A coworking agreement is a service agreement document that defines and outlines the duties and legal rights of the coworking space provider or company and the individual member or business that is using the coworking space.
With the rise of remote working and fewer companies reliant on traditional office environments, coworking spaces are a great option to consider for companies, particularly those in remote-friendly industries such asdigital marketing, tech, email marketing, and content creation.
They are also suitable for individuals, particularly remote workers, digital nomads, and freelancers who are looking to work collaboratively or simply looking for a clean, fresh productive place to work from.
The terms of your coworking agreement between yourself and your members can help determine the long-term success of your business.
If your agreement provides clear pricing, and adequate terms of service that are easy for your members to understand, you’ll be in a good place to provide your members with a high level of customer service and a positive customer experience. This will make it all the more likely for them to use your facility again in the future or recommend it to family, friends, and coworkers.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into six things your coworking agreement should include and give you all the details you need so you can write an agreement that works for you and your members and helps your coworking business flourish.Let’s get started.
If you’re writing an agreement from scratch, you’ll need to decide whether the spaces you’re providing your members fall under the category of a sub-lease or whether you will be providing your members with a coworking space as a service.
Sub-leasing a space involves re-renting a property of space to a third party, in this instance, a member of your coworking space. When this happens, the third party is responsible for paying the rent for the space and any repairs or damage to the space or property that occur during the lease.
The third party has to abide by the terms of the original lease agreement that the coworking space has with the property owner. Typically, sub-lease agreements will be for a fixed period of time or renewed on a rolling basis.
Sub-lease agreements are only possible if you, as a coworking space provider, have the legal right to do so, which would have been agreed upon in the initial tenancy agreement that you agreed with the property owner.
These agreements can be complex and are generally hard to end, which may not be attractive to you as a coworking space owner, particularly if you are still building up your membership numbers and looking to keep things simple.
A more common type of agreement (and the one that we’re focusing on in this article) between the coworking space owner and their members is a coworking service agreement. This type of agreement involves you (the coworking space owner) agreeing to provide services to your members and allowing members to use your coworking space and its resources.
The agreement will have a beginning and end date, a clear pricing agreement, rules, terms and conditions, and a clear code of conduct that the member has to abide by.
The agreement will also make clear that you, as the coworking space owner, have the ability to make changes to the terms of the agreement or contract at your discretion as long as you provide the member with enough notice of the proposed changes.
Outlining your different service levels in your coworking space agreement with potential members is key. Depending on what you offer, you may list the different types of membership levels you offer and what each includes in your coworking agreement, or you’ll have tailored it to the individual member if they’ve already decided upon their membership level prior to signing the agreement.
The main goal of outlining the different levels of service or membership you offer in your agreement is to state what a person joining your coworking space can expect to receive by signing up as a member of your coworking space.
For example, what’s the minimum length of time a person can rent a desk or coworking space from you? Many coworking spaces will offer guests daily, weekly, or monthly depending on their needs. These details need to be made clear in your agreement.
You’ll also need to define your pricing strategy, what members can expect to pay for their agreed-upon membership level, and what services they will receive.
Your agreement may also include the maximum number of people who can use your coworking space or a particular portion of it at any given time and the different spaces you offer. This is particularly important if you plan on renting out larger spaces to businesses that may be looking to use your coworking space for a longer period of time.
Ideally, you’ll have all of this information to hand before writing your agreement. For example, you’ll have already decided on the different packages you’ll offer your customers, and each new member will have chosen their membership level before signing your agreement.
Other things to consider in your service level agreement include:
When you’re defining any penalties that apply to your guests in your agreement should they break the terms of service, it’s best to speak to a lawyer to make sure that any penalties are legally binding and allowed in your particular location.
As mentioned in the point above, a transparent pricing structure is a must for any coworking agreement. This pricing structure should clearly break down the different levels of service you offer and exactly what kind of space your customer will be renting for the price they are paying.
Most coworking space providers will offer different pricing based on the type of space someone is looking to rent, the amount of time they are looking to use the space for, and the number of people that a particular space caters to or is suitable for.
A good example of a coworking company doing this well is UK coworking space provider work.life. Their pricing summary gives a clear breakdown of the different types of service they offer. It also shows the number of people each space is suitable for, how much each space will approximately cost, and whether the space is available on a full-time or part-time basis.
Alongside any upfront fees and costs, your coworking agreement should detail any fees that your customers could incur should they break the terms of the agreement.
Here's an example of how these fees could be broken down:
Your membership agreement should also make it easy for new members to choose their membership level, the payment methods you accept, and when the new members' membership will commence, similar to what is shown in the image below.
Your coworking agreement will need to have termination terms and conditions listed and state what both parties will do in the case of termination. Normally, the cancellation terms will include details surrounding:
Most coworking agreements will state that the coworking provider reserves the right to terminate the service agreement at any time if the member customer fails to abide by the terms of service that are agreed upon.
Your agreement will also have to include any details of any liability and insurance coverage that you might offer to your members.
This is important to highlight and display, as your members will want to know if they are covered should any of their possessions go missing while they are on your coworking premises or whether they need to get their own insurance to cover their belongings.
In your coworking agreement, you need to make it absolutely clear if your members have any liability cover as part of signing the agreement or whether they will need to ensure they have their own personal insurance for their assets.
Hanging out and working from a coworking space is a great way for workers, particularly remote workers, to meet like-minded individuals who are in a similar industry or line of work and network. It's a guarantee that you will have people from a wide range of backgrounds in your coworking space, and it's imperative that anyone working in your coworking space feels respected, safe, and comfortable.
With this in mind, your coworking agreement should include a code of conduct that explicitly outlines the values, behaviors, and expectations that you expect your members' to abide by while working on your premises.
There are code of conduct templates available online, such as this one available at coworkingcodeofconduct.org if you're looking for an example of how to write your code of conduct.
Your code of conduct will typically go into detail about your commitment to ensuring that your coworking space is a harassment-free environment. It should detail that your coworking space is somewhere where everyone can work from comfortably, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, race, age, caste, physical appearance, social status, religious affiliation, or parental or marital status.
The code of conduct should then clearly state your enforcement process should any discrimination or harassment occur, what your members can expect to happen in the event of an incident, and how they can report an incident should one occur. If you need any guidance or help with your code of conduct, seeking the help of a lawyer may be necessary.
As you can see from the points we've laid out in this article, your coworking agreement will be one of the most important parts of your coworking business and will go some way to determining whether it's a success or not.
It's worth mentioning again that your agreement should clearly state what your customers can expect from becoming a member of your coworking space, including:
To make sure your agreement is watertight, have a lawyer look over it to make sure that every part of the agreement is on a solid legal footing. A poorly written agreement could lead to legal problems down the road should an incident occur or you run into problems with a member of your coworking space.
Follow the tips in this article, prioritize your member's experience and create a coworking agreement that meets your member's needs and protects you as a business owner. If you do this, you'll be in a good position to watch your coworking business thrive.
The article was written by Freya Laskowski. Freya is a personal finance expert and founder of the CollectingCents website that teaches readers how to grow their passive income, save money, improve their credit score, and manage debt. She has been featured in publications like Business Insider, Fox Business, the Huffington Post, and GoBankingRates.