Are Coworking Spaces Against the Google My Business Guidelines?
Recently I have seen more and more discussions around coworking spaces and how Google My Business deals with them. We actually use co-working spaces here at Sterling Sky for meet-ups regularly and love the flexibility they provide. But are you allowed to use a coworking space for your address on your Google My Business listing? The answer is “it depends”.
What this article covers
- Can you use a coworking space for your business address?
- How to properly use coworking spaces with Google My Business
- Can you use an address where you have a dedicated desk?
Can you use a coworking space for your business address?
In February of 2021, Google updated their guidelines and added a section addressing coworking spaces. The following section is new:
“Businesses can’t list an office at a co-working space unless that office maintains clear signage, receives customers at the location during business hours, and is staffed during business hours by your business staff.”
Coworking spaces often aren’t allowed in Google My Business because:
- They generally aren’t permanent (businesses can come and go as they please).
- They aren’t staffed during your office hours listed on the GMB listing by your own staff (someone on your payroll).
- All the signs and logos on the physical location are for the coworking space, not your business. This makes it almost impossible for Google to confirm who is actually at that location and who is not.
- Like virtual offices, they are often used by companies who want to get listed numerous times on Google. People who like to game the system make it harder for everyone who are legitimately using coworking spaces for their day-to-day business.
How to properly use coworking spaces with Google My Business
If the items above don’t apply in your circumstance, you can use a coworking space on your listing but I would suggest you have the following set up:
- Make sure you have your own dedicated space. In order for the listing to qualify, “A business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours”. It’s almost impossible for Google to confirm you exist at a location if there isn’t physical evidence there of your business. For example, this business was able to get reinstated because they had this dedicated space with their logo on the door.
- Have your own suite number but do not make one up. I often see businesses just adding random letters to suite numbers or making them up entirely. This is not a good strategy if you’re trying to convince Google that you’re telling the truth about something.
Even if you do those 2 things, you will likely experience more suspensions than if you were to rent your own dedicated space because having signs on a location doesn’t prove that you are staffed there regularly. It’s frustrating but I currently do not suggest any type of address sharing to clients we work with due to the fact that we want to avoid suspensions and also don’t want the listing to get filtered.
Can you use an address where you have a dedicated desk?
Recently, someone asked the following on the Google My Business forum:
I”m considering renting a dedicated desk and am curious if it would qualify to get a Google Business listing. I have to sign a one-year lease and the desk can only be used by me. I get a unique suite number for mailing purposes and I’ll be sitting at the desk just about every day. My business will be listed on the building directory and have a sign on the desk with my company information, logo, etc. There is also a conference room I’m able to use to meet with clients should they choose to visit.
When I asked Google about it, they confirmed that there is nothing wrong with using a dedicated desk in a shared space (or co-working space) as long as all the other eligibility criteria are met. The three things they look for are:
- Permanent signage, even when the merchant is not present. This includes a permanent presence on the building’s business directory (e.g. suite number).
- Must be staffed by employees of the merchant and available for walk-in customers during the stated hours of operation. Virtual office employees are NOT considered to be the merchant’s employees.
- Phone number must be a direct line to the business.
Virtual offices are still not allowed to be used for all business types including service area businesses.
This Post Has 27 Comments
Good information. What about businesses that run from home or virtual? My business I run from my home office, still meet some clients there but a large portion of my clients are remote.
I’d still like to get a listing on GMB.
If you’re a home-based business you are generally allowed one listing and you can clear your address so it doesn’t show publicly on Google Maps.
Joy most users of co-working spaces and executive suites are single employees and can’t be in the office all the time. How does Google expect every company to have employees staffed there all day long?
They just want it to be staffed during whatever hours you have listed. I doubt everyone is doing that though or if Google has any way to enforce it.
The co-working space we use hits all the criteria of a regular office. I’m surprised (no I’m not) that Google isn’t up to speed here.
1. We sign an annual lease of a fixed office in the space, so we are not at “hot desks”, we have an office, with desks, screens, etc. that people work from.
2. When you walk into the lobby they display the logos of all the companies that are operating out of there.
3. Our office has it’s own suite number and signage on the office door.
Thank you for this article, I have started my business form home so what about that? is it ok for home or should I setup office place individually.
Yep, it’s totally fine to use a home address. Google wants to make sure it’s hidden though so make sure you clear your address if you want to stay within the guidelines.
Hi Joy, thanks for this update. Quick question, what exactly do you mean by “clear your adress”? Switching from adress to service area?
Yep, that’s what I’m referring to. https://support.google.com/business/answer/2853879?hl=en
Has there been any more updates on this topic since you wrote it? My company is starting our own Coworking Space in the office building we own. We are going to give all of the offices in the coworking space their own suite # but they will all be in their own suite in the building. The address would be: 300 Great Oaks Blvd. Suite 300, Suite 345 Albany, NY. Or should we just do Suite 345? Does any of that make sense? 🙂
Nothing has changed regarding Google’s policy on this so I’d suggest making sure your tenants have the 2 things referenced in the article to be compliant.
I recently changed my address to a coworking space. My previous address was a coworking space that I went to work at daily for close to 6 years. I had an office over there with my company sign. I have the same at my new office and even have a suite number. GMB suspended my listing as soon as I made the change, so I submitted a reinstatement form. The last thing I heard from them was that the case has been escalated and being investigated thoroughly. It’s been more than 2 weeks since their last response. I’ve replied to them with a photo of me in front of my office door that has a sign. I’ve also sent them a Twitter message. Do you have any idea of how long it takes for GMB to do the investigation?
If it’s been 2 weeks I’d suggest posting on the GMB forum: https://support.google.com/business/thread/new?hl=en
Make sure you include the business name & address in the thread along with the case ID for the reinstatement request (should be in the email subject).
Submit the request for reinstatement on your phone. It tends to work better. Include a copy of your DBA or business license. This usually works like a charm.
hi Tom, our company is about to switch addresses to a new co-working space that meets all the criteria like yours did and what happened to you is my worst nightmare. Would you be able to share if google ever reinstated your profile and what ended up working for you? Thank you!
Although Google My Business (GMB) will usually work today with true virtual offices with rentable conference rooms, or rentable offices it will NOT work with mailbox stores, UPS Stores, PO Boxes, etc. It seems GMB is blocking most addresses associated with the word “coworking” on their website or keywords. Some coworking spaces allow you to post your business sign (for a fee), this may enable you to meet the GMB requirements, but it is almost always a challenge once rejected to reinstate. The term coworking in association with a space seems to be the biggest problem. In the initial writers situation, he was likely grandfathered at this former location, but he move to a new coworking site triggered the rejection.
The use of extended suite addresses (PMB 123, Suite 123-155, etc.) are also problems when using GMB as they are viewed as mailbox stores. GMB automatically verifies the address against the GIS Database. If the address isn’t an official registered address, GMB will usually disallow it’s use.
The clarifications are very helpful – thanks for sharing 🙂
First off there is a marked difference between co-working and office space rented w/o a lease and leased office space. That is what differentiates “office space” from co-working. Many office space providers do not call themselves co-working because they do not have the open space for the collaboration and have no interest in helping people build a business. That isn’t their target market!
As someone who has done SEO for an office space company what you are calling co-working actually can’t comply with these rules because they have no “office space” only a seat among the herd. Some co-working spaces do rent offices but the majority of them don’t and often if they rent offices they don’t have a receptionist. I would suggest that if you want a risk free rental office space you can find spaces that assign offices (Telsec in Toronto) then buy signage to put it on your door. You will find most owners will understand this request because their business is also very dependent upon Google for traffic. This is actually a bonus for the office providers who can meet the requirements. I would say IME, the SEO industry has been dead wrong on this as I have found no problems for any client ever! Google using the expression “co-working” is confusing because a high % of co-working clients have no reception and no office! I agree numbers should be assigned to offices. Also in the past Google has accepted a picture of the business being listed in the building directory I don’t know if that still applies.
Do you have any thoughts on whether dedicated desks (with a 1 year lease) would pass the mustard with Google? The place I’m considering has dedicated desks, with their own suite numbers.
No, I don’t believe that would work with Google because they normally want signs on the dedicated space (like the door to the office).
Thank you for the reply. I definitely get that Google wants signs on the dedicated space. I don’t see where that has to be a door. Who’s to say I can’t put a sign on the desk (dedicated space) or the wall in front of the desk? Thank you for your opinion
I’d be happy to ask Google for you. If you want to post a thread over at the GMB forum – https://support.google.com/business/community?hl=en and send me the link to it, I can escalate it and ask.
Thank you for your help Joy. Here’s the link
I really appreciate your help in getting a clear answer.
If you own your own business, have a designated desk, permanent signage, and phone number, would you be able to count yourself as the staff of the merchant to qualify to get a Google Business listing?
Yep, that would be fine!
Hello, I currently work in a shared building with people having their own business rooms to rent and my girlfriend and I have 2 separate businesses but work in the same space. Do you think this can impact my chance of getting verified? I have a small signage and at the door and my licenses and have taken customers in the shop.
If you both have signage you should be fine if the businesses are completely separate.