Running a business from your own home has some incredible advantages. But let’s not beat around the bush, here, there are also some incredibly tricky issues to overcome. Not only is working solely from a home office going to damage your reputation a little - with big companies, most typically - but it can also be distracting. Whether it’s constant phone calls, visitors popping by to say hello, or just a constant noise and a demand for attention from the kids, distractions are everywhere.
So, while working from home certainly works for some people, it’s not for everyone. And whether you are freelancing or trying to break out a new business idea, there may be a time where you feel it is time to put yourself out there again and leave the home office for weekends or evenings. The big question is - where can you go? In this guide, we’re going to explore all of your options. Let’s take a closer look.
Buy an office space
Buying an office might sound ludicrous if you are working from home by yourself right now. But it might be a lot more feasible than you might think - and could be a good way of getting more income, and potentially a new direction for your career. Let’s say that you find an office - or office block - for sale and you decide to take the plunge. You could offer other freelancers or startup owners in your area some desk space, which will help you pay your mortgage and perhaps even make you some more money. Not only will it give you a break away from your home workspace you need, but you could also find yourself creating a business hub of sorts, for others who are in a very similar situation.
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There is the cost - and the risk - of buying a workspace outright. As the landlord of your property, you will be responsible for all kinds of things. You will need legal and financial help to ensure you are doing everything that is required of a landlord. You will be responsible for maintaining, marketing, and filling the property with workers - even if you don’t, you will still need to meet your mortgage payments. And, as Schemel - Tarrillion point out, you may also have problems like mold to deal with, which could put your commercial tenants at risk of health problems. Ultimately, it’s a huge decision to make, and although it could prove incredibly profitable, it’s probably not the right move - yet.
Rent an office space
The next idea is to look for a typical office in the rental market. There is a plethora of choice available, from single-person workspaces in substantial commercial buildings through to stylish, quiet office blocks in the suburbs. Renting an office will give you a sense of professionalism, and give you things like a proper business address, phone line, and perhaps even somewhere you can take clients for meetings.
The trouble is, all these benefits come at a cost. If you leave the sanctity of your home - which you have been using for next to no expense - it can be a bitter pill to swallow when you have to pay out $6-700 a month or more for renting an office somewhere. Therefore, it’s advisable to think carefully about whether you can afford it or not. That said, if your current business is scaling fast, and moving to a more professional address will guarantee you new clients, it might be worth it.
Use coworking spaces
One of the best options for freelancers and new startup owners who want to leave the home office behind is the coworking space. There are plenty of these types of workspaces springing up all over the country, and they can provide you with a brilliant working environment if you choose the right one. The idea is that you rent a desk - or a space in a larger area, alongside other people who are in a similar position to you. There is a charge, of course, but it is usually a fraction of the price of a typical office rental.
Plus, many of these coworking spaces offer some excellent benefits - they act like small business hubs. You might get free Internet, for example, and even coffee and biscuits. And most importantly, you may get to go to events run by the coworking space, which gets you face-to-face with successful entrepreneurs or business advisors.
Do you live near a public library? If so, why not make use of it to work? It’s noticeable that there are fewer libraries around than there used to be, but if you are lucky to have one near your zip code, they can be brilliant places to work. The quiet nature of the library makes it perfect for getting your head down and being productive. Plus, of course, if you are researching particular topics for a project, you have instant access to in-depth books on almost any subject - and a librarian to help you find the right information.
There are some disadvantages, of course. It’s a public space, so there is no guarantee there will be a desk or workspace free on any given day. And even though most people try to be quiet in libraries, there may be busy periods of events that push the noise levels up to distracting levels. It’s not a long-term option, really - but useful for trying out a couple of times a week to get you into the habit of leaving the home office. Why not give it a go?
Coffee shops and cafes
As long as you buy frequent drinks, most coffee shops and cafes will be happy to let you work as long as you like - you’re a paying customer, after all. Avoid bringing a packed lunch, too, as most owners and staff will be unhappy about you eating your own food.
Again, though, just like libraries this probably isn’t a permanent option. As everyone knows, coffee shops and cafes can get pretty busy throughout the day, particularly over lunchtimes. All that coffee can soon add up on your expenses, too, so perhaps it isn’t ideal if you are looking to cut costs. And the simple truth is that it can be difficult to get comfortable in a place that is someone else’s business, not to mention the privacy and noise concerns you might have if you have to make or take a call from a client.
Desk surfing at a friend’s house
Do you have a friend who has a home office? Why not ask if you can join them a few days a week for work? Not only will you save money from renting an office or paying coworking space fees, but you will still have someone on hand for a chat if you need to work out some problems. You can repay the favor, too, by inviting your friend over to yours for the days that make up the rest of the week. Who knows, perhaps the two of you combined could even come up with a brand new business idea and join forces?
Is this a permanent solution? Probably not. But again, it’s a good step towards breaking out of the home office, and just the very fact you are getting up and out of the house in the morning can have a beneficial impact on your productivity and mindset.
The garden office
Finally, if you really can’t live with - or find - one of these alternatives, why not consider setting up an office in your garden? This way you will be able to define your work environment and separate it from your home life. It can make a massive difference to your thinking, and although the expense of setting up a room, office building, or garden pod with electricity, heating and all the other mod cons you need is high, it’s still cheap in reality.
Compare the price of installing a shed-type home office with what you would spend on renting a nice office for a year or more. With the former, it’s yours for life, with no extra costs incurred other than for minor repairs and energy. With the latter, it’s a case of making ongoing payments that could go up at any time - and could put your business in jeopardy.
Mix and match
Finally, part of the beauty of working from home in the first place is that it gives you a lot of flexibility. Well, you can take that flexibility further - and mix and match your work locations. Perhaps spend one day a week in the library, and another discussing your business with a friend or acquaintance? Maybe you could head to the coffee shop for an afternoon, and only work from home when the kids are otherwise engaged, or at school?
Ultimately, buying or renting an office is a good idea in the long-term, but until you have built up stability for your business, flexibility is incredibly important. It makes no sense having a flash, centrally located office with all the trimmings if you can’t afford it.
Do you have any alternative ideas? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!