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Work from home or rent offices? « Free Tips DOT COZA

Work from home or rent offices?


Posted on 4th February 2011 by Tony in Business Advice

I work from home. I love the idea of never having to worry about getting up at 6am so I can be at the office by 8am. I can dress as relaxed as I like and I enjoy the fact that I can slip out down to the beach whenever I want to. It’s a fantastic feeling.

But over the last 6 months I have also realised that my business has reached a ceiling. Now I can either stay where I am and enjoy my little comfort zone, or make a decision and move into proper offices. Currently I have two staff which work for me, which means I need to be up and about (and dressed) and the house needs to be cleaned before they get here at 8am. So I’m up early anyway.

The problem is that the house just has too many distractions for us … too many opportunities to go check out the TV, or run to the beach, or pop down to a coffee shop and no matter how disciplined we try to be, it doesn’t work out.

So, I have decided that within the next 90 days I need to find offices for the company to move into – it’s not going to be too fancy, but I do want to give the team a better, more productive, working environment.

So what are your thoughts? Any suggestions?

  1. Chris M says:

    Because I know your situation, I’d say try rent some offices, even if it’s just for a 3-6 month period to get more business rules in place. If after that, you aren’t keen anymore, just move back to the home office, but keep the same rules in place. Either way, those rules will be more set in stone, and don’t see moving to offices and returning home as a failure, see it as “training” for the home environment.

    4th February 2011 at 9:59 am

  2. Russ says:

    I would take the offices over the house. I’m 27 years old and worked out of an Internet Marketing home office (not my own) in JHB for nearly 3 years. Nowadays I’m back in a office and I’m a lot happier. If you want to take your business to new heights then I believe an office will help you get there. You can still dress casual and go for coffee but the office environment will just give you and your employees a better sense of ‘work’ and productivity. Good luck

    4th February 2011 at 10:05 am

  3. Gerhard says:

    I would say rent an office, it’s important to have a work space seperate from your living space. Otherwise the one will bleed into the other.

    I agree with Christopher, get a short term lease and test out the water 🙂


    4th February 2011 at 10:07 am

  4. Paul Bedford says:

    I think that while you are still on your own working from home is great but, as soon as you have employees offices are almost essential.

    4th February 2011 at 10:10 am

  5. Tony says:

    Thanks for the comments. I definitely feel like work is bleeding into my personal life and really struggle to separate the two which is another motivation for me to find proper offices. I’m struggling to find a short-term lease though as most of the agents I have spoken to are pushing 36 month leases. I’m sure it’s just for their own commissions, so I definitely need to stand my ground.

    4th February 2011 at 10:11 am

  6. Phillip says:

    Buy your staff laptops and set them up with an internet connection and let them work from home.

    4th February 2011 at 10:12 am

  7. Chris M says:

    @Russ – Interesting with regards to being happier in an office. I’ve worked in a formal office, an informal office and currently work form a home agency. I’ve been at the home agency for just over two years and I couldn’t be happier, so I’m just curious as to what made you dislike it? In my case, my colleagues and boss are awesome, so that does make it rad.

    For me it boils down to employees, if you’re not one of those people who manages to hire exceptional staff who can do the home office thing completely maturely and want to be part of the team, want to work after hours, etc. then as I mentioned, the offices will help define those business rules – Still though, at the end of the day, you’re going to need to set those rules regardless of your location, I just think a formal setting makes it easier..

    4th February 2011 at 10:13 am

  8. Nick Soper says:

    Having an office is a major major plus. You get to meet more people, leave your work at the office and the marketing value of well positioned offices is not a trivial notion.

    I think the major hurdle with starting up in offices is cost. Most landlords ask for 2 months rent deposit, so when you move in you end up paying 3 months rent. Plus there is the cost of equipment and furniture, because you’ll another of everything like a kettle, phones, printer etc.. You’ll also need to sign a 12-24 month lease which ties you down.

    If you are working solo I would seriously recommend an office share where you put your equipment on a desk and share the resources of the office. That way you get lower start up costs, can negotiate 1 month deposit, and shorter lease periods like 3 months at a time.

    If you choose wisely you can move into an office where you can wangle work from your landlord, or if there are multiple companies in the space, get work from all of them. Direct work from co-tennants can cause tension, resulting in a situation where you are always on call (no space to work). So an even better office is one where the other tenants can offer you lots of referrals, and if you rewards them and make them look good for referring you.

    I found moving into an office paid for itself in terms of the amount of work I was getting from better clients. This allowed me to say no to work from bad clients. It also gave me a place to meet clients instead of coffee shops. (Don’t get me wrong, I still meet clients at a coffee shop when I want a relaxed vibe, but work gets done in the office)

    Oh dear, I wrote a mini essay…

    4th February 2011 at 10:15 am

  9. Chris M says:

    @Nick – Must admit, having decent offices with a boardroom (shared space or not) is a lekker plus in terms of impression and resources (whiteboards, projector, etc.).

    4th February 2011 at 10:20 am

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  11. Tony says:

    @Philip I’ve tried to break-up the office and have everyone work from home and meet on skype daily and meet once a week in person. It just doesn’t help at all.

    @Nick I agree with you about Office Share but at the moment we’re already “outgrowing” that scenario. I am already holding back my company growth because of a lack of space. I need to hire a developer, designer and possibly another SEOer … so my best bet is just to bite the bullet and get the offices.

    Something else that occurred to me now while driving was the Credibility Factor. While you work from home you’re still seen as a “start-up”. People are surprised to hear webexposure has been running since 2002 – they think I’m a half-wit wannabe rather than someone who has actually chosen to work from home. Corporates and bigger business don’t want to work with us as a result.

    At the moment moving to offices far outways the pros of staying at home. Of course it’s just going to be a mental shift, and of course the cost ! *groan*

    4th February 2011 at 2:00 pm

  12. Christo Bothma says:

    Tony my opinion is that it depends on the person and the staff members.

    We recently moved into our home office and I couldn’t be happier. We have an arrangement with associates that we can use some of their infrastructure. This serves as remote offices for clients in certain areas saving us money.

    If I weigh up the costs of having a formal office it just does not make good business sense. The office space that you rent will set you back between R65 to R120 per square meter. This does not include parking bays. The bays will be a killer. Open bays go for between R360 to R750 per bay per month and under cover is much more. This does not take into account the other add on costs and the hassle of phone lines and ADSL lines.

    If you setup your home office as a separate “unit”, away from your home you will have the feeling of an office and you will get into the frame of mind that it’s work.

    Also these days with iphones, blackberries and smart phones we all tend to not leave work at work and bring it home with us either way.

    Some of the bigger corporate companies are moving away from having big corporate offices and moving to remote office environments. It cuts down on overheads and their carbon footprint.

    So if big corporates are moving towards home offices I don’t see the point of moving into formal offices.

    We get the work done from home.

    4th February 2011 at 9:40 pm

  13. Tony says:

    Hi Christo

    While I fully appreciate the fact that there are going to be extra costs (I imagine an extra R20 000 per month at least) I also need to ask myself what is the cost of NOT having proper offices? There is certainly a big loss of production when working from home (for me anyway) and a big feeling of never being able to separate my personal and business life.

    Seems like its very much weighing up the various pros and cons.

    4th February 2011 at 11:50 am

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