When people hear you work from home, the reactions can range from complete adoration and jealousy to “oh, when are you going to get a real job?” I am sure we’ve all heard similar. But as an independent businessperson, it really makes a lot of sense. But there is a downside. Unless you have a dedicated space in your home with an external exit, the perception of your agency being a hobby is very real. There is a solution.
Starbucks!! No, just kidding. Starbucks or your local coffee shop is fine for a client meeting here and there (and certainly great for your mental health is you need a change of scenery) but it is still just a Starbucks.
Renting an office. Let’s be real here. Most of us are solopreneurs so the thought of spending even $500 for an office is prohibitive. Especially when 90% of your work can be done at home without client interaction. I was out drinking with a friend the other night and she mentioned that she had an office. I always thought she was working from home. It turns out that her company (a national company) pays for an office suite in a building that is unused 99% of the time. I looked it up and their rent is $3200 per month. Which of us has that kind of money to waste?
Enter the co-working space! If you are not familiar, it is a co-op type space where for a monthly fee you have access to a desk or office, kitchen, conference room, and some basic office supplies and coffee are included along with WiFi and some tech. I rent a space in a local business and I love it. For $200/month, I have a desk in an open area, and most importantly access to a conference room for client meetings. I can host a group night there (extra cost) but it has all the projectors and screens in place along with the refrigerators and icemakers and coffee machines. And my $200 is all in—utilities and a receptionist are included. I also have 24-7 access, so if a client needs a 11am Saturday meeting, that is not a problem. I can upgrade to a dedicated desk in that same area, or I can opt for a private office starting at $1000/month which is still a bargain compared to a full blown lease. And it is month to month!
Is a co-working space right for you?
Financial. You can afford to move out of your home office but a permanent, multi-year lease may be too big a commitment for your bottom line. A coworking space allows your to scale your space. Business up and you need to hire some help? Get another desk!
Camaraderie. Face it, we miss the water cooler at home! I do. The dog and cat only go so far! But in a co-working space, you are with other like minded people (granted likely in a different field) all facing similar challenges. Lean on them, run your latest promotion by them. Or maybe just talk about how bad the Orioles suck this year!
Networking. Professionals drive professionals. While I absolutely hate “leads groups” this is different. These are co-workers and you can see how they work and what they do. It is much easier to refer a co-worker than some schmoe that happened to show up for a cheap breakfast at the local Denny’s.
Keep it fresh. Face it, at home, you are not likely to grow like you may want. Home is comfortable. Home is predictable. Home is boring. All of those things will stagnate a business .A co-working space will introduce the feedback you need and prod to move your forward.
Less distractions. This doesn’t sound right, but hear me out. My mailman is a huge Met fan, and when I have a package, I can guarantee a 30 minute discussion about baseball. Sometimes I enjoy toying with Rachel from cardholder services and seeing how long I can keep her on the line choking her chain. Despite the dog being able to “hold it” for 8 hours, I find that I walk more (and longer). You can avoid most of these in a co-working space. There is the realization that you are paying for this. There is a realization that others are not likely to engage in your time wasting. And you will be more productive.
Of course, with a co-working space, you still have a home! And let’s be real, this is the best of both worlds. Did you have a little too much to drink last night and driving across town to the office is less than appealing? Work from home! Is that one girl with the irritating voice always in the office on Wednesdays? Work from home!
Today we live in a world where our work can be accomplished quite literally everywhere and with a gizmo in our pockets. We could work on the beach all the time, but I think there are more distractions to deal with there; so maybe co-working is right for you. Check it out.
Here is a link to an article discussing some of the larger co-working spaces across the country!