Where will you work?
- Here is the big idea
- Decide what kind of office space is right for you – remote, coworking, traditional?
- To work from home, set up rules and boundaries and utilize the tools that are available to you.
- To work from a coworking space, do some research on those near you and pick what best suits your needs.
These days, technology can reliably connect us regardless of physical distance or separation. This remote accessibility is great for business because it affords us tons of flexibility with everything from hiring employees to deciding on an office space.
Without the limitations of geography, some of today’s most prominent and successful businesses have employees working from all across the globe.
You need to consider a few things before you decide what kind of office space will work best for you:
- Is your team located all in one place, or are they geographically spread out?
- Where do you want to be? In the heart of a metropolis or in a village??
- How much will an office space cost to rent? Does it make more sense to buy one?
- Can you share a space with other companies and individuals, or do you want your own place?
The remote, work from home office
Remote offices are quickly becoming a huge trend, and it’s easy to see why. They allow you to expand easily, offer tons of flexibility to your employees, and they save you a lot of money.
Whether your team is spread throughout the world or just prefers to work remotely, there are awesome tools and services that can help your team stay connected, work together, and run smoothly.
- Grasshopper ─ We provide small businesses like you with a virtual phone system that allows you to sound more professional and stay connected even when you’re on-the-go.
- Google Apps for Business ─ Google Apps includes everything from email and chat to word documents, spreadsheets, and more. And everything is hosted in the cloud
- GoToMeeting and join.me ─ Free phone/video calls, screen-sharing, and collaborative online meeting tools.
- Skype ─ Free calling, sharing, messaging, and video conferencing with anyone, wherever they are.
- Basecamp and Trello ─ Super easy to use project management tools that allow team members to collaborate easily and efficiently.
Working in different time zones
The option to utilize a remote office has provided young companies with huge opportunities and possibilities that were previously impossible. However, there are some unique challenges that arise from it, too. Today, you may have a developer in the United States and a freelancer in Australia. Working across different time zones can make it difficult to keep in touch and manage your team.
Managing a team across multiple time zones complicates things, but implementing a few easy tips can make a world of difference.
- Be consistent. A consistent schedule will help a spread out team to stay on track. Weekly meetings, daily check-ins, and other constant mainstays can help prevent confusion and time mix-ups and generally keep the team organized and on the same page.
- Don’t work all the time. Different time zones mean that at any time of the day, someone on your team is probably working. It’s easy to find yourself tempted to work all day to ensure you can stay in touch with everyone and manage their work. Don’t fall into the trap! Being reasonable is absolutely key. Neither you or your employees can or should be available at all hours of the day and night.
- Get tools that help. Today’s tools can be super helpful with every facet of your business, but they become even more crucial with a dispersed team. Project managements apps like Trello and NowDoThis, help desk software like NetHelpDesk and Oxygen, and communication tools like Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting are all invaluable ways to help you manage a remote team across time zones. And don’t forget ─ a virtual phone system like Grasshopper. We’re perfect for remote teams!
- Get together a few times a year. This is huge when it comes to developing and maintaining a coherent company culture. It’s hard to do when team members never see each other. Since you’re saving a lot of money by using a remote office, you can afford to spend a little more to get the team together.
- Connect people who are in the same time zones. Not everyone will be in a different timezone, so make an effort to help team members who are in the same region connect. This can foster better collaboration and help the team solve problems. If they live near each other, offer to pay for them to grab lunch or coffee together.
Working from home benefits
There are a ton of varying benefits to working from home. Here are some of the most notable:
Flexibility ─ Working from home affords you boundless flexibility compared to being in an office. You can easily 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 shorter commutes report the most happiness with their lives? A commute that involves walking downstairs to your home office is a huge win.
Environmentally friendly ─ Since you won’t be driving or taking public transportation to the office, your commute is great for the environment. When a whole team works from home, it’s a huge benefit.
More productivity ─ Many people find that they are more productive when working from home rather than a loud and distracting office environment.
Quieter work environment ─ No matter what they’re talking about, most office environments are full of noisy coworkers, especially with all of today’s open layouts. Some people thrive amid all that noise, but if you prefer a quieter work space, it’s a lot easier to find at home.
Great for kids and pets ─ If you have to take care of kids or pets, the flexibility of working from home can be a huge blessing, especially with older kids.Be careful, though. Taking care of children is a full-time job. You can’t expect to do it all on top of a forty-hour work week.
Inexpensive ─ Remote employees cut down on overhead because the company won’t have to spend money on desks, office space leases, or electric bills. A remote office is a seriously economic option. It’s also inexpensive for employees since they don’t have to pay transportation costs.
Disadvantages of working from home
Despite all of the benefits of working from home, there are a few drawbacks that you should consider:
Being alone ─ Working from home is isolating, and it can get lonely. People often report missing having coworkers around and having trouble finding new social outlets.
Low external motivation ─ A home office can lack the things necessary to get you motivated. Your telly is right there, calling to you. Not having coworkers around can make it difficult to sit down and get to work.
Distracting ─ Depending on your personality, working from home can be just as distracting as a noisy, open-plan office. You may be surrounded by people who aren’t in the work mindset you’re trying to find (like your family). Plus, without anyone around to monitor and tell you what to do, it’s easy to find yourself watching Netflix instead of working, which isn’t great for your productivity if you couldn’t tell.
Hard to connect with coworkers ─ When your coworkers are spread across the country or globe, it’s hard to develop relationships and connect about work-related topics. There will always be people (and you may be one of them) that are just more comfortable connecting in person.
Trouble staying organised ─ Love them or hate them, meetings and managers are a big part of how we stay organised in the office. Without them, you’re on your own, and it can be difficult to organise yourself and your team, especially when members are spread across time and space.
Others’ perceptions ─ Many people who don’t do it have trouble understanding working from home. They might assume you don’t have to work as hard as they do. This isn’t really a disadvantage, but a negative nonetheless. Some people just may not understand your choice.
How to work from home: Office space, guidelines, and productivity for remote workers
You know it’s going to be harder to motivate yourself without someone looking over your shoulder. Sitting in your pyjamas on the couch is not exactly conducive to driving motivation.
Here are some ways you can increase your efficiency whilst you’re working from an untraditional office environment:
- Get dressed. It seems trivial, but getting out of your pyjamas and into real clothes can help set your mind for the right mode.
- Create a dedicated workspace for yourself. Whether it’s a desk in the living room, a table at a local cafe, or a secluded room in your house, make sure there’s a specified area that you only use for work. A space that you associate with work will help you focus and separate work from play. Investing in an ergonomic chair that is kind to your back is well worth it.
- Stick to a schedule. Establishing “office hours” will help keep your day structured and allow you to maintain work/life balance. A schedule doesn’t mean you have to do the standard 9-5. Just find a schedule that works for you and stay consistent. If you take a break every afternoon to pick the kids up from school, so be it.
- Make a daily to-do list. It sounds simple, but this can be a huge help when you need to fight off procrastination. You should have a to-do list every single day. Trust us, checklists are your best friend, especially when you’re working remotely.
- Get some apps and plug-ins. Distracting websites like Facebook and BuzzFeed are even more alluring without a manager over your shoulder. Chrome and Firefox plug-ins like Stayfocusd and LeechBlock allow you to set limits on how much time you spend on these sites.
- Set ground rules for roommates and family. Regardless of their intentions, family and roommates can be distracting when you’re working from home. Setting ground rules can help you stay focused and uninterrupted. For example, if your office door is closed, no one can knock unless it’s an emergency (don’t forget to define emergency).
Do whatever it takes for you to be your most productive, awesome self. Whether that means working flexible hours or a rigid schedule, always working from a dedicated space or mix it up from time to time.
“I sometimes take myself down to my local coffee shop, just for a change of scenery.”– Jen Smith of The Freedom Leap
Working from home with kids
If you have kids, you face some unique challenges when it comes to working from home. Older kids can fend for themselves as far as riding the bus home from school and getting started on homework, but younger children can require a lot from you. Finding the perfect balance can seem impossible.
Here are some tips to help you get there:
- Make rules. Kids will need structure and rules to help them understand what you’re doing and that they need to respect boundaries. Establishing rules and the consequences for breaking them can help limit interruptions and distractions. For example, if the kids interrupt you for something trivial, they don’t get dessert tonight.
- Understand you can’t do everything. Taking care of kids is a full-time job, especially when they’re younger. Don’t expect to be able to handle everything on top of a 9-5 job.
- If you have partner, work together. Come up with rules, arrangements, and schedules that work for both of you and the kids. That extra set of hands can be a huge help.
- Plan play dates and other activities. Busy kids require less from you. Out-of-the-house playdates and independent activities are a great idea to keep kids busy and entertained whilst you work.
- Hire childcare. When things get too crazy, think about hiring some childcare to help you out. Having someone else to help with the kids can make a huge difference, so whether it’s a grandparent, babysitter, or nanny, go for it.
Kids definitely make working from home a little harder, but some small adjustments can make a world of difference.
“My most important 'investment' at this time was a set of decent, comfortable headphones. Being able to switch off the background noise in the family home allowed me to detach myself from the distractions.”– Liam O’Dowd of Pop Digital
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house in order to get work done. In this case, coworking spaces are a great option. You can rent a desk, office, or conference room depending on what you need.
Coworking spaces are awesome if you do contract work or travel frequently. You can always find a place to temporarily plug-in or hold an official meeting in an unfamiliar city.
Coworking creates a unique, collaborative environment with so many different types of businesses sharing a space. This can help to combat the isolating effect of working from home, and it provides tons of options for unlikely, but beneficial, collaboration.
“The space is amazing for collaboration. It's a great opportunity to pitch your ideas to like-minded people, and get useful feedback.”– Herman Satkauskas of AirSorted
Most coworking spaces are quite affordable. They usually offer flexible plans and don’t lock you in to require lengthy contracts.
It will vary by location and the space itself, but here are a few examples of prices and options:
|FORWARD SPACE||TECHHUB||THE GUILD|
|Cost of shared space||£200/month||£275/month||£240/month|
|Cost of private space||£250/month||£8.5 per ft2||£299/month|
|Cost of deluxe private space||£300/month||£8.5 per ft2|
|Benefits and amenities||Meeting Rooms, Resource Library, Event Space, 100Mbps Superfast Fibre, Kitchen and Lounge Area||Meeting Rooms, WiFi, Free Events, Endless Coffee, Access to TechHub's network||Meeting Rooms, WiFi, Unlimited tea and coffee, "The Lab" quiet space, "The Engine Room"|
Standard office spaces
Just because there’s been a rise in remote offices lately doesn’t mean it’s for you. Not everyone is comfortable working remotely, and you may feel the need for a concrete and tangible HQ.
If you’re thinking about buying or leasing a place of your own, here are a few things to consider before making a commitment:
Renting versus buying
Buying your own office space requires a larger investment up-front, but there are no landlords to deal with. And once your lease is up, you won’t be at the mercy of the current market. There’s also a chance, however, that you buy a space and then need to expand to a larger one. You may not be prepared to deal with the complications and taxes that come with owning a commercial property.
There are a lot of different facets that will contribute to the actual cost of your space. You want to be as informed as possible about energy, service, maintenance, and tax costs. Don’t be afraid to ask your agent about the typical costs of similar buildings for your reference.
Knowing your needs
In order to choose a space that truly fits you and your business, it’s important to know what your needs are. If your company will need a backup generator in case of power outages or needs extra space for a lunch room, you’ll want to take this into account during your search.
Do you want to be in a bustling city or a suburban residential area? Urban office spaces can be super convenient and exciting, but they aren’t the only option. The suburbs have their advantages, too, including easier parking, lower rental costs, and room to expand.
Running an office will come with costs, which are variable depending on a lot of important factors. How many employees will be working there? Do your operations require a ton of electricity? How much are your insurances per month? These aspects and more will contribute to the financial ramifications of a physical office space. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to do your research and compare options before you make any commitments.
Other entrepreneurs and small business owners may have already experienced what you’re going through. Tap into their knowledge and insights through trade association, entrepreneur support groups, and similar industries’ online message boards and blogs. These people can be invaluable resources for you.
Other unique arrangements
Do none of these office options seem like a good fit for you? Don’t worry ─ you’re an entrepreneur! The glamour of starting your own business applies here since you have unlimited flexibility when it comes to where you’ll work.
You can always keep a look out for local colleges and universities that offer public access to their libraries and extra rooms. Your local college or university is a good place to start, so don’t be shy about asking if they have any extra space.
Some businesses even offer their spare desks to entrepreneurs in need. In the entrepreneurial spirit of coworking, plenty of companies (like us!) will open their free space to other small business owners.
- Additional Resources
- Inside the coolest startup office in London │ Business Insider UK
- Seven of the UK’s most beautiful coworking spaces │ crunch
- 10 questions to ask yourself 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