Whether you’ve been in business for awhile or you’re just starting out, you have a variety of options in terms of how you work. Should you rent office space or work from home? Choose wrong, and your business could suffer…or you could end up with a host of unnecessary expenses. Today we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of both office space and working from home, to help you decide which works better for you and your business.
- Distractions. You’re away from the distractions of home life—things like household tasks, kids, pets, and anything else that might take your attention away from your work.
- Boundaries. You can more easily leave the work at work than you can when you work from home. It’s also easier to set boundaries with family and friends, who may see an “office office” as more legitimate than a home office might seem.
- Working with a team. While there are many strategies and technologies that make team building just as effective (if not more so) in the virtual space, many companies still prefer to have people get together in the same room for meetings, face to face. Having office space makes these meetings a lot easier.
- Perception. If you have a business that requires having clients come to you, rather than you going to them, then having office space is almost a necessity. You can’t have effective client meetings at Panera or Starbucks and maintain an air of professionalism and legitimacy.
- Inefficiency. You’re away from home, which means it’s as hard to get household tasks like laundry and dishes done as if you were working a corporate career (in fact, one of my personal productivity secrets is that I sandwich household tasks in between meetings).
- The Commute. You have to drive to your office, versus walking down the hallway.
- Expenses. Having an office space means extra expenses for rent and and include other things like phone lines and Wifi.
- Reduced productivity. While having an office space means your team can meet in person, meetings have actually been shown to waste a ton of time and money. So if you insist on having meetings, at least have effective meetings with a clear time frame, an agenda, and as few people as necessary to get the items on your agenda accomplished.
- Distractions. Just because you’re not working from home where your kid and your dog will distract you doesn’t mean you won’t actually still have distractions. Coworkers, whether they’re in the same office space or working down the hall, tend to be time suckers, who will stop by for a chat whenever they’re taking a break. You’ll want to nip that in the bud right away so you keep your productivity high.
Working from Home
- Efficiency. Working from home means no commute. That means you get an hour or two back every single day. Personally, I use some of that time for household tasks, some for reading up on my industry, and the rest getting even more accomplished in my day. In fact, by the time most people are arriving at work, I’ve already gotten more done than most people accomplish in an entire day.
- No Commute. Obviously, with no commute, you save a ton of wear and tear on vehicles, save money on gas (and save the environment!), and ultimately have a lot more time (see “Efficiency” above).
- Reduced expenses. When you work from a home office, you save a ton of money on rent and extra services like Wifi.
- Deductions. When you work from home, you get to deduct a portion of your mortgage, utilities, and technology services from your taxes. Yay! (check with your accountant to find out exactly what and how much you can deduct)
- Working with a virtual team. In the digital age, we’re getting much better at using technology to communicate effectively. In fact, at Business in Blue Jeans it is extremely rare for us to have an actual meeting at all. We simply don’t need them. And when you communicate by email, you leave a digital paper trail that is enormously helpful if you need to track down who said what and when.
- Productivity. With no coworkers down the hall or in the cubicle next door, you’ll be able to minimize a lot of distractions and interruptions in your work flow, making you able to do more in a shorter period of time.
- Carving out the space. Many people are able to dedicate a room to their home office. But for many, finding a spare bedroom or a den (or even a basement lair) can be a challenge. Thus, a lot of “home offices” are just a corner in the living room where you set up your desk. For others, a home office is wherever they can find a space to sit with their laptop.
- Distractions. I’ve always thought that family members who also live in your home could be a big distraction until you become more effective at setting boundaries. But recently, I’ve begun hearing business owners talking about needy pets as well. You can tell a family member that you’re working…but it’s not quite so easy to have that same conversation with your dog (or your cat, who might just like to curl up on top of your keyboard, making it difficult to write, for example).
- Perception. If your business requires your clients to come to you for some reason, then you won’t want to invite them home with you. This situation can become a bit challenging, so you’ll have to set up ways to manage these meetings…and Panera and Starbucks aren’t always the best answer.
So… Should You Rent Office Space or Work From Home?
Deciding whether to rent office space or work from home can be a big decision. We recommend that you base your decision on your business model, individual needs, and yes, your personality.
If your business model requires that clients come to you, then you should have a professional-looking space for them to visit. It’s really just that simple. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to break the mold of how your industry operates. Be willing to guide the dialogue and go to them, if you prefer.
I try to avoid any and all unnecessary in-person meetings, because it is just one of the many ways that I protect my productivity. That means I have many meetings on the phone, which results in a much more effective and efficient conversation. And when I do need to meet a client in person (which is, admittedly, important to relationship-building with clients), I prefer to visit their locations so that I can get a much better sense of the company, their corporate culture and their brand, as well as any problems they might be facing that they need my help with.
If you have a lot of distractions at home and/or have a hard time finding a place that you can call your home office, then you may want to take a look at office space, or at least a co-working facility. It’s important to know what your limitations are and what you really need to be effective in your working environment.
If you’re working from a corner of your bedroom and that pile of laundry just keeps staring at you… and there’s nowhere else in the house where you can work, consider a location outside of the home.