Working space matters. We spend many hours at work and the place where we do our job can impact the quantity and quality of the work produced therein. Freelancers often brag about our ability to work from home, or the coffee shop, library, vacation house, or wherever, but these environments may bring many distractions that have the potential to de-rail concentration or creativity. Furthermore, none are a suitable location into which an A-list prospective client can be invited for a serious meeting.
If you find that you need an office outside of your home, perhaps it’s because you’ve hired others to work with you and a home office is no longer practical and appropriate? Your office, regardless of the configuration that you can afford, is an extension of your brand. It must represent you well.
If your goal is to attract bigger budget clients, then you must demonstrate in many ways that your operation is capable of delivering more complex products or services. You must instill confidence in those who you ask to hire you. That will almost certainly entail contracting for good office space. At last, it’s time to move out of the house.
This is often the first place that Freelancers and entrepreneurs consider when it’s time to move from a home to a formal office. Think of co-working as moving in with roommates. Lay-outs vary, but you’ll have dedicated work space that will feature a greater or lesser degree of privacy.
Besides your discrete work area, all other spaces are common and amenities are shared. You’ll gain the use of resources such as a photocopy machine, scanner, conference room with basic audiovisual equipment like LCD for Power Point presentations and a screen. There will probably be a kitchen, or at least a coffee and tea maker, microwave and a refrigerator.
Many co-working spaces are exclusive to a particular industry (tech, usually). They’re designed to encourage networking and referral building, because they are populated by small operators who tend to outsource functions such as website building, graphic arts, accounting, HR, or bookkeeping, for example.
But like living with roommates, privacy can be a challenge because so much is out in the open, including perhaps the desk space. Book the conference room for important meetings. Or maybe confidential meetings could be held in a local coffee shop, ironically, where anonymity could work in your favor.
Some co-working spaces are in luxury commercial buildings that have lost a big client and the owners make up the lost revenue by renting out to those who seek the prestige of a great office, but only for a fixed amount of time each month, when they need to impress a client or prospect. An office share is probably a more accurate term.
Typically, there is a receptionist who calls when an appointment arrives and you come out to the desk and greet your VIP, pretending that you can afford an elegant office on a full-time basis. You’ll most likely have the use of a lovely conference room or maybe two. You will have a proper office with a door that closes, giving privacy. You’ll have a great kitchen, high-end photocopy machine and other standard office amenities, too. The receptionist may also answer your office land line and then forward calls to you, which you can return at your convenience. If it’s set up correctly, no one will know that you’re in a share.
An office suite, even a small space, is a big financial commitment; commercial leases are often three years and difficult to break. You must have a good handle on your projected revenues.
Think carefully about your staffing needs to determine the square feet that you’ll rent. Do you anticipate hiring an administrative assistant and others to work with you in some capacity? There must be space to accommodate these workers, even if they are not in-house 52 weeks/year. Whether or not they are likely to all be in the office simultaneously is another consideration.
The types of work stations that different workers will require is another important consideration (as are the computer software programs they’ll need to do their jobs). The size of the desks and the type of chairs matters, as well. Ergonomics count, as its use decreases the risk of developing back and neck aches and promotes productivity.
Finally, there is the issue of the floor plan. Open plans are popular, but the office cubby gives more privacy. Will you, the boss, have a private office, or will the open plan work for you as well, communicating that you are a team player? Will you need a conference room? Speaking with an office planning specialist could be money well spent.
Thanks for reading,