Where To Work: Home, Coworking Space, Small Office Space?
Remote, Coworking and Standard Office Spaces
One of the most amazing things about technology is its capacity to connect us, regardless of physical distance. This kind of remote accessibility provides incredible flexibility in business, especially when it comes to deciding what kind of office setup you want.
Some of today’s greatest companies have workers spread around the world.
There are a few things to consider when determining the kind of space you want to work with:
- Is your team all in one place, or are they spread out?
- Do you want your location in the heart of a city, or in a perhaps more suburban neighborhood?
- How much would it cost to rent an office space? Would it be better to buy one?
- Do you mind sharing a space with other companies, or would you rather have the whole place to yourself?
The Remote Office
Remote offices are the new reality. Remote arrangements allow for easy expansion, a ton of flexibility for employees, and can save you lots of cash.
Whether your team is dispersed around the globe or simply has a couple employees who prefer to work from home, there are some amazing programs and services that will help your business connect and run smoothly.
- Grasshopper - We provide small businesses with a virtual phone system, allowing them to sound more professional and stay connected despite being on-the-go.
- Google Apps for Business – Google Apps provides emails, word documents, spreadsheets, chat, and more—all in the cloud.
- join.me - Free screen-sharing, phone calls, and collaborative online meeting and presentation tools.
- Skype - Free calling, sharing, messaging, and video conferencing with anyone, wherever they may be.
- Basecamp and Trello - Easy to use online project management tools that allows team members to collaborate easily and efficiently.
Working in Different Time Zones
The remote office has brought so many opportunities and possibilities, especially to young companies, but new problems have arisen that make remote work challenging. One of the most challenging is figuring out how to work in different time zones. In a remote office arrangement, there might be a developer in Canada and a writer in Egypt. People are spread out all over the world.
Here are a few tips for successfully managing a team across multiple time zones:
- Be consistent. A consistent schedule can make a huge difference for a spread out team. Things like weekly meetings, daily check-ins, and other consistent mainstays can keep the company on track and prevent confusion and time mix-ups.
- Don’t work all the time. With a team spread around the world, you know that at any given time, someone is working. It’s tempting to try to work all the time to make sure you’re in touch with everyone and effectively managing their work, but this is a set up for disaster. Be reasonable. Employees shouldn’t have to attend meetings in the middle of the night.
- Get tools that help. The right tools are important to every modern day business, but they’re essential for remote teams. Get a project management tool like Trello or Basecamp, a helpdesk tool like Help Scout or Groove, and simply communication tools like HipChat, Lync, or Yammer. Don’t forget a phone system like Grasshopper—we’re perfect for remote teams!
- Get together a few times a year. It’s hard to establish a coherent company culture if team members never see each other. You’re saving a lot of money with a remote office, so buck up and spend your funds on airfare to get your team together as often as you can.
- Connect people who are in the same time zones. People who are in the same time zones will naturally stick together. Still, make an effort to connect them. If they have questions, they can bounce off of each other. Pay for them to have lunch together if they live near each other.
Benefits of Working from Home
There are a wide array of benefits of working from home. Here are the most notable:
Flexibility – Working from home is unquestionably more flexible than being in an office. It’s easy to make your own schedule, walk the dog, run out to get some milk, or pick up the kids from school.
No Commute – Did you know that people with the shortest commutes report the most happiness with their lives? Working from home has no commute. Huge win.
Environmentally Friendly – Because you don’t have to get in your car or take public transit to the office, your choice is quite environmentally friendly. When a large group works from home, it’s even more environmentally friendly.
More Productivity – A lot of people say they are more productive at home than in a loud and distracting office environment.
Quieter Work Environment – Whether people are talking work or play, many office environments are noisy, especially with today’s open layouts. Some people can work well with this noise, while others prefer a quieter work environment, something that’s easier to get in a home office.
Great for kids and pets – If you have pets and kids to care of, working from home can be a huge blessing, especially if your children are a little older. Be careful though, as taking care of children is a full-time job. You can’t expect to take care of an infant while working a full forty -hour week.
Inexpensive for the company – The company has so little overheard when employees are remote. There aren’t desks to buy, office spaces to lease, or hefty electric bills to pay. A remote office is an extremely economic option. This option is inexpensive for employees, too, who don’t have to pay transportation costs.
Disadvantages of Working from Home
Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages of working from home. Here are the most notable:
Being Alone – Working from home is isolating and can be lonely. Many people miss having coworkers around, and have trouble finding new social outlets.
Low External Motivation – It can be hard to get motivated, especially when your TV is within your line of sight. Without coworkers working around you, it can be difficult to buck up and get working.
Distracting – Working from home can be as distracting as a noisy office. Your family might be extremely distracting, constantly asking you for things despite the fact that they know you’re working. There’s also no one around to tell you what to do, so you can spend a few hours watching Netflix instead of working, not the best for productivity.
Hard to Connect with Coworkers – With coworkers spread far and wide, it’s difficult to forge relationships and connect with coworkers on work-related topics.
Others’ Perceptions – A lot of people don’t understand working from home. They assume it means that you don’t have to work as hard as they do. This is simply a negative, not a real disadvantage, but don’t be surprised if some people don’t understand your choice.
Trouble staying organized – Without meetings and a manager imposing their will on you, you’ll have to stay organized on your own. Sometimes it can be difficult to organize and rally the team when there are members stretched across time and space.
How to Work from Home: Office Space, Guidelines, and Productivity for Remote Workers
With no one looking over your shoulder, it can be tough to self-motivate, especially when you’re in your pajamas on the couch.
Here are some tips to increase your efficiency when working in an untraditional environment:
- Get Dressed. This may seem trivial, but getting out of your PJs and into real clothes can help get you in the right frame of mind.
- Create a Dedicated Workspace for Yourself. Whether it be at a desk in your living room or a table at a local cafe, make sure you have a specified area that you associate with work to help you focus. The best option is a separate office in your home. This promotes a healthy work/life balance, separating work and play. Investing in an ergonomic chair that is kind to your back is well worth it.
- Stick to a Schedule. Having “office hours” will help keep your day structured and allow you to get more quality work done. This doesn’t mean you have to do the 9-5 thing-- just figure out what works for you and be consistent. If that means taking a break to walk your dog every afternoon, so be it!
- Make a Daily To-do List. As simple as it sounds, this can be a huge help, and will reduce the possibility of procrastination. Make sure you have a to-do list each and every day. Checklists are the professionals best friend, especially when they’re working remotely.
- Get Some Apps and Plug-ins. Chrome and Firefox plug-ins like Stayfocusd and LeechBlock can limit your time on distracting sites like Facebook and BuzzFeed.
- Set Ground Rules for Roommates and Family. Sometimes our families have the best intentions, but they bother us when we’re working from home. That’s why it’s important to set ground rules. For example, a ground rule might be that when the office door is closed, no one is allowed to knock on it unless there is a serious emergency.
Working from Home with Kids
Children pose unique challenges to those who work from home. If the kids are a little older, they can come home from school on the bus, start doing their homework, and give you ample time for work. If they’re younger, they can be pretty demanding, and it can be impossible to get the perfect balance.
Here are some tips for how to work from home with kids around:
- Make rules. Structure and rules help kids understand what you’re doing and that they need to respect boundaries. There should be rules and understood consequences for breaking them. For example, if you interrupt Daddy while he’s working from something unnecessary, you will not have ice cream tonight.
- Understand you can’t do everything. It isn’t really possible to work a 9/5 while taking care of an infant. Taking care of a child is a full-time job, and having another job on top of it will make you crazy.
- If you have a partner, work together. If you have a partner, work together to come up with rules and arrangements that work for the two of you and your kids. They have an extra set of hands that can help.
- Plan play dates and other activities. Busy kids means that they won’t demand so much from you. Out-of-the-house play dates are a great idea, but so are activities that your kids can do independently while in the house.
- Hire childcare. When the going gets rough, throw in the towel and hire childcare to help you out. Whether it’s a babysitter, nanny, or a grandparent, having someone else to help you with your child can make a world of difference.
If you need to get out of the house to get work done, coworking spaces are a good option. At a coworking space, you can rent a desk, office, or conference room depending on your needs.
This option is good for people who do contract work or who travel frequently and need a place to temporarily plug in. It’s also great if you need to hold an official meeting in an unfamiliar city.
With so many types of businesses sharing a space, coworking provides a unique environment of collaboration. This eliminates the sometimes isolating “working from home” experience, and provides many options for unlikely (but nonetheless beneficial!) collaboration.
Coworking spaces aren’t that expensive and have very flexible plans and no lengthy contracts.
It depends on the location and the space itself, but here are some examples of prices and office options:
Cost of Shared Space
$190 - $290/month
Cost of Private Space
$300 - $600/month
Cost of Deluxe Private Space
$1200 - $2400/month
$890 - $2390/month
$1100 - $2560/month
Benefits and Amenities
Storage options, meeting room options, admin support, printing, bottomless coffee, mail service
Conference room options, storage facilities, 24 hour access, event rental options, postal service
Conference room options, discounts on transportation, gym, office supplies and food, 24 hour access
Standard Office Space
Feeling the need for something more concrete and tangible than headquarters in cyberspace? Just because there has been an upsurge in remote offices doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone.
If you do decide to buy or lease a place of your own, there are some things you need to consider to get the most out of your commitment:
Renting vs. Buying
Although buying may be a larger up-front cost, you won’t have to deal with landlords or be at the mercy of the market once your lease is up. However, what if your company grows and you need to expand to a larger space? Are you prepared to deal with the taxes that come with owning a commercial property?
Make sure you get a comprehensive report on energy, janitorial, maintenance and tax costs so you are as informed as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask your broker for similar buildings’ typical costs for your reference.
Knowing Your Needs
Make sure the spaces you are looking at fully accommodate your needs. For example, if your company requires a backup generator in case of power outages or needs extra space for a lunch room, that is something you will need to specify in your search.
Bustling city center or residential area? Being in an urban area can be exciting and can prove very convenient, but there are also advantages to looking outside the hub. Things like available parking are much easier to come by in a suburb, as are lower rental prices and the possibility of expansion.
The costs of running an office depend on a huge number of variables. Does your company have a lot of employees? Do you use a ton of electricity in order to operate smoothly? How much is your insurance per month? All of these things can bear weight on your finances. Make sure you do your homework and compare prices before diving into any monetary commitments.
Contact trade associations, entrepreneur support groups, and similar industries’ online message boards or blogs. These communities are made up of people who know exactly what you’re going through (and can warn you about things like unforeseen expenditures), and can be invaluable resources during your process.
Other Unique Arrangements
If none of these office options seem right for you, don’t fret! The beauty in starting a business these days is the amount of flexibility that comes with it.
Keep an eye out for universities and colleges that offer their libraries and extra rooms as places to work. Don’t shy away from asking connections at your alma mater if they’ve got extra space, even if it’s just for temporary use.
Some businesses offer spare desks to entrepreneurs in need. More often than not there will be businesses (like us!) that open their free space to fellow entrepreneurs in the spirit of coworking.
- Additional Resources:
- 10 Questions to Ask Youself Before Choosing an Office Space | Entrepreneur
- 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Leasing an Office Space | Under 30 CEO
- 6 Best Tips for Being Super Productive While Working Remotely | Technori
- 16 Cool Co-Working Spaces | Inc.
- The 5 Smartest Ways to Connect Multiple Offices | Business Insider