When starting your career as an independent consultant, it’s important to factor in your place of work when creating your business plan. Different settings offer various benefits, and the best place for you will depend on many factors including your industry, working style, and budget.
While working from home may be convenient for some, it can be isolating and distracting for others. Here are 5 alternatives to a home office, along with benefits and drawbacks so you can make an informed decision.
Pros: While most coworking spaces do charge membership fees, they are relatively inexpensive and generally far less costly than renting an office. Most facilities will provide office equipment including printers, scanners, fax machines, and meeting rooms that you can use to meet with current and potential clients.
One of the most notable benefits of a coworking space is the ability to work in a socially-based, professional setting. This not only helps to combat the isolation many feel in a home office, but it can also have creative benefits such as the ability to brainstorm, collaborate, and network with colleagues.
Cons: Unlike a home office, many coworking facilities have set business hours, so your work schedule may be more set. You’re also likely to experience less privacy. While the social setting of a coworking facility can be invigorating, it can be difficult to work without distractions or interruptions. Lastly, depending on where you live, you’ll need to factor in commute time and cost.
Bottom Line: Coworking facilities can be an excellent option for independent contractors who find working from home to be too isolating, or who don’t want to purchase office equipment. However, it may not be ideal for those who value quiet and private environments or those who require more flexible work hours. Check out Coworker to find a coworking facility near you.
Pros: A private office provides an environment that is relatively distraction-free and entirely dedicated to work and productivity. It also offers a professional setting for client meetings.
Cons: The main drawback of a private office is the high cost of renting and maintaining it. In addition to rent, be sure to consider other costs such as utilities, parking fees, and office equipment.
Bottom Line: While some independents find a private office unnecessary, others feel that the benefits it affords are worth the investment. Many find that a private office is a luxury that should be considered after they’ve established themselves and have built a thriving business. Pivot Desk is available in select cities and matches you with a private workspace in a shared company office. You may also consider renting a shared office space to minimize cost.
Pros: Hot desking is a growing trend in many industries. The idea here is that you can rent a desk in an existing office building, incubator space, or coworking facility that rotates between multiple users. A hot desk will provide you with a dedicated workstation for the time you reserve it. Similar to a coworking facility, you’ll often have all of the benefits of a fully functioning office as well as opportunities to network.
Cons: With a hot desk, privacy can be a toss up and the group atmosphere may be distracting to some. While you may save on cost, you won’t have a personal workspace you can come to each day.
Bottom Line: For independents who don’t want or need the expense of a dedicated office space, hot desks are an inexpensive and flexible option. Check out DesksNear.Me or ShareDesk to find a desk in your area.
Pros: Hourly spaces allow you to rent all sorts of workspaces by the hour including private offices, presentation rooms, shared office space, desks, coworking spaces, and conference rooms. If you primarily work out of a home office, renting an hourly space may be a good change of scenery for a focused work session or a private space for a client meeting.
Cons: With an hourly space, you of course don’t have a dedicated office or desk you can come to each day. Depending on where you rent and how much you are willing to pay, your space may or may not include the office equipment needed to conduct business.
Bottom Line: For those don’t want to regularly go to a coworking facility or rent an office, but need some type of additional workplace, hourly spaces are a good option. Liquidspace offers a wide selection of hourly workspaces all around the world.
Pros: For independents looking for flexibility, there are a number of creative options available in your town or city.
Coffee shops are the original alternative-workspace hub, and are still a big draw with free Wi-Fi, and an array of drinks and snacks. Many newer or boutique grocery stores also offer an area to sit and enjoy a coffee or baked good, and tend to be quieter than a busy coffee shop.
Hop on your bike or take a walk to your local park when the weather permits. Many parks have shaded tables that can be an ideal spot to work while enjoying fresh air and getting a boost of vitamin D.
Cons: While many of these public places offer great flexibility, some can be a bit noisy or chaotic depending on the day. Keep in mind that while you may be able to find free Wi-Fi, it might not a business-friendly speed or completely secure.
Bottom Line: Public places can be a great option when you’re looking for a change of scenery or a place to work for a few hours. When working at one of these alternative locations, considering bringing noise canceling headphones and a portable Wi-Fi hot spot. Workfrom scouts out the best work-friendly spaces in your location.
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News and notes about the independent professional community and their clients. This is the March 13, 2017 edition.