Between the two of us, we have more than 75 years of work experience. And we've worked in multiple situations, from retail stores, warehouses and construction sites to churches and call centers. We've also enjoyed the luxury of the executive suite and the convenience of the kitchen counter.
These days, however, we primarily work from our home office and have some perspective on the issue. But successfully working from home depends on your specific situation. So, if you're weighing the pros and cons for ourself, here are some questions to ask yourself -- and an alternative that may not have occurred to you.
In our home, we have a beautiful office over the garage that is separate from the rest of the house. It has a fireplace, wet bar, bathroom, large partner desk and more built-in file drawers and bookshelves than we have been able to fill. Working from home means that we eliminate the morning commute. The dress code is extremely casual, at least until our administrative assistant arrives at 9 a.m. Our two cats can come by for a pat on the head any time they wish.
Certainly, these are all good things. In addition, working out of our home saves us the costs commonly associated with an office, including rent, janitorial services and utilities. The big pros to working out of your home, then, are convenience and cost.
On the down side, though, living only a few steps from the office means we never really leave work. We say that the difference between a weekday and a weekend is that on Saturday and Sunday, we move our laptops from the office to the family room. In fact, Polly recently had an extra door installed so that she wouldn't have to see the stairway to the office while sitting on the family room sofa.
Another detriment to working at home is that if you have children or a spouse there, these family members may become a distraction. In addition, some people miss the interaction associated with co-workers and become isolated and lonely if they work alone at home. And, if you need to meet with clients in your office, having them come to your home may not create the professional impression you want.
The cons to working from home, then, are that it can be difficult to separate work time from family time; you may face built-in distractions or isolation; and your home office may not provide the professional persona you want your business to project.
The questions to ask
The main question to ask yourself is why you want or need office space. How will you weight the pros versus the cons? Which things are more important to you? If there are cons that are important to you, are there ways to mitigate the negatives? For example, if working at home would make you feel isolated, could you deal with this by attending networking events and working at a local coffee shop at least some of the time?
A possible alternative
If you want a place to go outside your home with business amenities, one option available in many areas is co-working space. While there are no blueprints for these spaces, most offer desks, tables, couches to sit on, printers, copiers, coffee and access to conference and meeting rooms.
Some will also allow you to rent a single, private office. If you want someone to commiserate with, the other co-working members can then act as sounding boards. This option is usually much less costly, more flexible and much easier to set up than renting separate office space. Co-working space may be a viable alternative to working from your home.
After you answer a few questions, weigh the pros and cons and think about your alternatives, we’re confident you’ll come up with the answer that’s right for you.