When searching for a place to do business, the buzz term of coworking is sometimes confused with shared office space and office business centres, but they are not the same thing. The flexible workspace sector is home to all manners of different types of workspace. It is important that you find the best option for your small business. It is important to know and understand the subtle differences between a coworking space and a shared office, or a serviced office.

Let’s first start with explaining what coworking is. Coworking spaces market themselves as proving grounds for the future of work. They are often where software developers and start-up founders can network over coffee and fresh-baked cookies. Essentially, they are destinations for freelancers and entrepreneurs who want an office that doesn’t double as a kitchen table or their kid’s playroom.

There are those who say the coworking movement grew out of the tradition of business centres, which have long rented small offices to accountants, wealth managers, and other professionals who need a desk to work from. But then there others who will say that coworking is more of a lifestyle than just a place to work from, that is not your home. They can be great for those who do not need a business address or access to high-tech office equipment.

Coworking can be ideal for freelancers and developers who thrive on collaboration with others, but there are other distinctions. Most coworking spaces charge a monthly membership fee to use the space, while others let users pay as they go. Some coworking centres operate like collectives, keeping fees low and minimizing profits, while others seem to operate on the idea of maximizing profits for the centre owners.

Office business centres that offer serviced and shared offices have been around for many decades, the principle is to offer businesses not only a place to work, but a place where they can have a professional business address. Unlike coworking spaces, office business centres can offer a more professional environment – and not just a desk or couch in a coffee-shop-like environment.

Some business centres offer shared office spaces that are very similar to the coworking concept. Tenants pay a monthly fee to be able to use the address and utilize a non-dedicated desk when they need a space to work. Shared office clients at an office business centre also have access to professional boardrooms and access to high tech meeting rooms that they would not normally be able to afford in a traditional standalone office space.

Besides offering shared office space, an office business centre can offer a small business semi-private offices, private offices and executive suites with a window view. More importantly, business centres will come with access to a professional receptionist to answer business calls and handle them as directed. Most businesses opt to have calls transferred to their office extension, but other choose to have calls transferred to their cellphones or directly to voice mail. Most coworking centres are not set up or equipped to offer telephone answering and call transferring services.

Office business centres can offer pay-per-use services such as fax machines, photocopiers and network printing. Yes, some coworking centres can offer these services, but you have to pay immediately when you use them. It’s much better, however, to receive an invoice at the end of the month. Claiming office expenses on taxes is much easier when you receive only a monthly bill and don’t have to keep every small receipt for a photocopy or print job. These receipts are often lost or discarded.

Before making any decisions of what would work best for you business, we should tell you that there are hybrids of coworking centres that are being opened in or by office business centres that offer the best of both office types.