Where you choose to work can have a significant impact on your business. For a small business starting out, renting office space was usually the default – but in recent years working from home has become popular as a low-cost alternative, especially for startups. And yet with both these choices, it’s clear that there are pros and cons. What works well for one business could be totally wrong for another.
So how do you know what’s right for your business? Let’s first take a look at the positives and negatives of renting an office.
Renting an Office: The Positives
One of the biggest advantages of working in a rented office space is how much credibility it gives you and your business. Although it’s not always necessarily fair or true, most people tend to view businesses with their own private office as more professional and/or reliable than a business that’s set-up at home. It’s a big plus for businesses that meet face to face with clients or customers regularly.
There’s a social side to renting an office that you don’t always get when you work from home. Not only does it afford you the chance to get to know the other businesses around you, but it provides more opportunities for networking/interactions with potential clients or customers.
Easy to Manage
Renting a serviced office space for your business also takes away a lot of the responsibilities associated with the maintenance and upkeep of a business premises.
Renting an Office: The Negatives
The main downside to renting an office versus setting up your business from home has to do with expense.
Although shared office and coworking spaces can offer a cheaper alternative to renting a private office, it’s always going to be a more expensive option than working from home.
Businesses that are more established and are looking to grow are likely to be able to afford the expense of renting office space – but for start-ups and small businesses run by just one person, the cost may outweigh the benefits.
So what are the positives and negatives of working from home?
Working from Home: The Positives
It’s not surprising that affordability is top of the list when it comes to the benefits working from home – you don’t need to pay rent and utilities (other than your normal household bills, some of which may be tax deductible) and all you really need to get started is a laptop and good internet connection. By setting up a virtual office with a mailbox you can also create a more professional appearance for your business. Then, once you’re more established, you can consider moving on up and out of your home into a shared office space.
Working from home can also be really convenient – there’s no commute and more often than not, you’re likely to be around for deliveries and in the event that repairs and maintenance is needed to be carried out at home. But beware, too many distractions may make for a difficult working environment.
Working from Home: The Negatives
As briefly mentioned above, one of the main issues with working from home are the many distractions that you have to deal with. Deliveries, gas meter readings, making cups of tea for the plumber and even temptations such as the television and the pile of washing up that needs taking care of, can provide the kind of distractions that leave you vulnerable to procrastination. So if you decide to work from home, it’s important that you’re able to be disciplined and set clear boundaries about your working day.
It Can Be Lonely
Working from home is not for everyone. If you enjoy interacting with others and work better when you’re around people, you may find working from home to be quite lonely and isolating. Even if you’re not an extrovert as such, finding some local coworking opportunities or networking groups to meet up with may give you the support and interaction that you’re missing out on as a home worker.
No Separation Between Work and Home Life
One of the biggest pitfalls of working from home is that it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day because there’s no (or very little) separation between your work and home life. Your office is always just there – and it can sometimes feel like you should be available to your clients at all times of the day which can be unhealthy. Again, setting boundaries about your work schedule and finding a way to switch off once you’re finished for the day can be the key to making home-working work for you.
If you need to take regular, face to face meetings with clients or business partners, the home office makes this difficult. A one-off solution might be to hire a meeting room at a business centre for any amount of time from an hour or half a day to a full day which could help make those necessary business meet-ups a little less awkward.
Which Is Best for My Business?
Before you make your decision about whether to work from home or in an office, it’s worth taking time out to consider the positives and negatives of each to help you decide which way of working suits your business. This will be dependent on a number of factors including what stage your business is at, what you need from a work space and what you’re willing to sacrifice to get what you think will help your business become stronger in the long-term.