Sharing work area more popular as virtual world grows

Mike Koozmin/The ExaminerHappy together: Raj Seth and his colleagues rent co-working space together

Before renting a table and some desk space at Sandbox Suites in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood, Raj Sheth and his startup co-founders were working from three different locations.

The trio — who founded Recruiterbox.com, an organization to help companies with submitted résumés, last March in Boston and India — were looking to relocate to San Francisco to be part of the tech community here. He said they lucked out on on finding a work environment that met their needs and their price.

“Expense is one factor,” Sheth said. “But as we’re putting out things, it’s also good not to be isolated.”

Sheth and his engineering team are some of the growing number of small-business owners, entrepreneurs and tech startups moving into and sharing office space they don’t necessarily need to call their own. The idea known as “co-working” is springing up in buildings all over the country and expanding in The City.

Sheth said in his field, it’s easier to get feedback and share ideas.

“We get a lot of relevant ideas from people working with us,” he said. “It’s a nice environment to keep getting feedback.”

Jak Churton, a managing director with C.B. Richard Ellis, a Los Angeles-based commercial real estate firm, said great and creative minds like to be around each other. He said Sheth is one of the many people taking advantage of this growing trend.

“We live in such a virtual world now, with iPads, iPhones, and we’re working 24/7, so it seems like the natural progression for that,” Churton said of office sharing. “In general, if there is space available and people — especially in the tech community — collaborative, smart minds like to cluster.”

In San Francisco, there are as many as 14 office-sharing companies. Prices vary per business and location. Many companies base price on space required, nature of use or whether the space rented is an office versus a table in a common area.

One such company, which opened its fourth location last month, is Sandbox Suites, where Sheth and his colleagues rent space.

Sandbox Suites, which was founded in 2007 by Roman Gelfer with a building in South of Market, is in response to the growing need for small-company office space.

“The idea just made sense,” said Gelfer, the company’s CEO. “People often work from home, or the road, or in a cafe. Now there’s a place they can call their business home.”

Sheth said he would like to stay in Sandbox until the company grows to more than eight engineers, although he’s not certain when that will happen.

“If we get three or five more engineers, we might get a corner office,” he said. “More than that, we’ll probably look elsewhere.”

Working with others

Number of office-share spaces by neighborhood:

South of Market: 8
Mission: 3
Union Square: 1
South Park: 1
Potrero: 1
North Beach: 1
Upper Market: 1

Source: wiki.coworking.info

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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