A large number of service professionals and startups run powerhouse operations right from their home office. My husband and I started our first company from our two-bedroom apartment, launched our current company, CorpNet.com, out of a room off our garage, and Mike McDerment talks about launching FreshBooks from his parents’ basement.
Some people can work successfully from home for years, while others find their dining rooms flooded with inventory or their kids and spouse have a hard time understanding that a closed door means “do not disturb.”
The cost savings and easy commute are powerful incentives to stay in the home office for as long as possible, but in many cases, small business owners find they have no choice but to leave. Here are some of the most common reasons why business owners take the leap to an out-of-home workspace:
1. There are Too Many Distractions
For many, the inability to work uninterrupted while at home has a serious impact on productivity, work quality, and both client and family relationships Do you procrastinate on a big project by doing the dishes or laundry? Do you have family members who frequently barge into your workspace or the dog barks during an important conference call? If you’re missing deadlines or fighting with family members about what a closed office door means, it’s probably time to relocate the office away from the home.
2. You Struggle With Work-Home Separation
In the age of always-on technology like smartphones and smart watches, it’s hard enough to find a healthy balance between work and personal time. But this presents an even bigger challenge when there’s no physical separation between home and the office. Many professionals find they need to move work out of the home in order to get a clean break and unplug at night.
Related: Tips to find work/life balance
3. Your Job is Taking Over Your House
As a business grows, it inevitably needs more space. This is particularly true if you have any inventory or specialized equipment for the business. Do you need to walk around boxes of supplies in the bedroom or move piles of paper from the dining room in order to eat? If work starts to physically invade your home, you need to get more space – whether it’s an outside office or just offsite storage.
4. You Bring on Employees
When I hired our first employees, they worked out of our living room. It wasn’t an ideal situation for anyone – and it definitely accelerated our move to an office. Most employees won’t want to work in your home or use your personal bathroom.
If your employees need some kind of workspace (and they can’t work remotely), then it’s only fair that you set up a conventional work environment where they have the space and freedom to do their job. In addition, you should be careful if your home insurance policy covers liability when you have employees working in your home (most likely, it doesn’t).
5. You Get Lonely Working Alone
Some people thrive working alone, while others need to be surrounded by people to stay motivated and engaged. If you’re a “people person,” you most likely need to tap into the communal energy of an office that you simply can’t get while working at home…no matter how many trips to the local coffee shop you make in a day. If you frequently find yourself bored and restless by mid morning, consider it a sign that you need to be part of a larger community of fellow professionals, startups, or small businesses.
Taking the Next Step
Once you have determined that it’s time to move out of your home office, the next step is to figure out what you need. Just because you’ve outgrown your home office doesn’t mean you need to sign a long-term lease in a big office park.
Ask yourself what are the biggest challenges with your present work environment:
- If boxes of inventory or large equipment are the main issues, you can probably get by with renting some storage space.
- If you need a quiet space away from the television or kids in order to concentrate when working on a big project or have a conference call in peace, then you may want to consider renting a small office or trying an executive office center.
- Lastly, if you are missing the camaraderie and energy of an office, definitely try out a co-working or incubator space.
Most importantly, moving from the home office is a big transition. No matter what type of outside office space you get, try to sign a short-term arrangement (less than one year) just in case things don’t work out as planned or you realize you need even more space as your business grows.
Nellie Akalp is the Founder and CEO of CorpNet.com, an online business filings service and recognized Inc.5000 company, where she assists entrepreneurs across all 50 states start a business, incorporate, form an LLC, and apply for trademarks. They also offer free business compliance tools for any entrepreneur to utilize.