In the beginning, most small business owners work from home. As the business grows, however, so might your workspace needs. So you can either stick with a home office or move on to a rented office. But which one is right for you, and what are the pros and cons?
Having worked both from home and from a rented office, I’ve discovered what the best (and worst!) parts of each option are.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting; the arrival of the pandemic in 2020 changed things dramatically. Office spaces closed and most people, self-employed or not, found themselves working from their dining room tables. Lockdown health and safety shone a whole new light on this, and flagged up considerations we likely didn’t have before.
The “new normal” looks likely to be more of a hybrid situation for many. But that still means weighing up many of the same pros and cons as before!
1. Socialising & Networking
When you work from home it can get quite lonely, especially if you’re stuck inside by yourself all day. A rented office, on the other hand, offers several opportunities for socialising and networking.
You can easily work as a team and collaborate with colleagues or other businesses. You can quickly organise meetings or attend events organised by other members of the office.
Even simple things like having a chat with people when you’re on your tea break can make a big difference if you’re a sociable person!
Find out about the 10 things I’ve learned by running my own small business.
The main negative of rented office space for small business owners is the cost associated with it. Especially when your business is new, office rent can seem like an unnecessary expense if you can work from home for free.
You don’t have to pay rent on a home office, but there are some hidden costs. For example, you’ll be using a lot more heating and electricity if you’re at home every day.
You’ll need to buy office furniture and you may need to upgrade your broadband or telephone service. However, you can claim some of this back from HMRC as tax relief to help cover the costs of a home office.
Whilst you can, of course, still be very professional when working from home, a home office can sometimes appear quite casual. You may also find it difficult to separate home and work life (we’re all guilty of working from the sofa in our pyjamas sometimes!).
Or you might feel uncomfortable inviting clients or colleagues into your office as it’s within your private home rather than a professional office. With a rented office, it’s much easier to separate professional life and personal life and to keep your office a business-focused environment.
A rented office can be full of distractions. Other people can be noisy when you’re trying to work, or they might stop by your desk for a chat when you’re right in the middle of doing something.
It’s also easier for people to call you into last-minute meetings if you’re in a physical office space with them. But if you work from home it has its fair share of distractions too.
You might have pets or kids running around, it can be tempting to switch on the TV and sometimes even cleaning the kitchen seems like a good idea when you want to procrastinate!
When you work from home, there’s no commute so you don’t waste any time. If you’re busy, this extra time is really helpful. If you’re less busy, it means you can have a lie in!
With a rented office, you will need to set aside time for commuting. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If it’s a short commute, a walk in the fresh air is a great way to get ready for the day.
If it’s a longer commute, make use of your time. Reply to emails on the bus, draft up plans on the train, or listen to useful podcasts in the car.
6. Productivity & Flexibility
With a rented office, you often have to stick to set hours when the building is open. At home, however, you can work any hours you like. That’s very helpful if you have a tight deadline or feel particularly inspired late in the evening.
Working from home also allows you to organise your day so it is the most productive for you. There won’t be any distractions from co-workers and you can work around any other commitments you have. In a rented office, things can be a lot less flexible.
7. Health and Safety
A few years ago, this is something that many of us likely never truly considered. But the Covid-19 pandemic led many businesses to move their staff to remote working, in order to keep them safe. Working from home was no longer just part of the “freelance dream”!
Working from home minimises your contact with the others, which (as discussed above) can be negative socially, but undoubtedly reduces your likelihood of catching anything that is going around at the time.
The reality is that this is now a very real consideration. So keeping an eye on any current restrictions in your country is important when deciding if you should work from home.
It’s your choice
Overall, there are definitely pros and cons to both. Whether you opt for a home office or a rented office depends a lot on your business, your personality and your style of working.
I personally loved the flexibility of working from home. But it was quite lonely after a few years, especially in busy times. At some point going to networking events and having meetings with clients or other freelancers wasn’t enough to socialise either.
I love that with my shared office I now have the choice between working quietly and having a chat with people. And I can still work from home if I want to – it’s the best of all worlds!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
How to be a Pro in Online Networking Video Calls
7 Networking Events and Clubs to Join in Edinburgh
10 Things I’ve Learned Running My Own Small Business
How to Make Your Small Business Work Smarter Not Harder