Escaping from the office rat race is often cited as one of the most attractive aspects of starting your own business. No more rush hour commutes, no meetings that drag on, and no more projects landing on your desk at 4:55 pm on a Friday, or even by 9pm.
Working at home, or taking your laptop to a mall, sure sounds like a dream. But it presents its own challenges and frustrations. Do you have the drive to follow a set schedule each day? Can you work well with little or no accountability? This is why coworking spaces have blossomed as a viable option in recent years.
A coworking space is a place where you can go daily, sit down at a desk, and work among like-minded people in a structured atmosphere. It offers an office-style environment that fosters all the autonomy an entrepreneur could want without any of the politics. If you’re an entrepreneur working from home, have you considered the benefits you could enjoy from the coworking space?
Below are six benefits of moving into a coworking space:
Working from home presents an abundance of distractions. It’s tough to work effectively when you’re close to your television set, pets, your bed, and family. Keeping work separate from home allows you to keep structure in your life, and provides a reason to get out of the house.
Becoming more effective
An office environment creates an energy and mindset that can only come from interacting with fellow workers. According to a study, a coworking office environment made 64 per cent of entrepreneurs more productive; 68 per cent of entrepreneurs more focused and 90 per cent of entrepreneurs more confident. In a coworking space, where everyone is busy on his or her own passion projects, this buzz will drive you on to make your own business a success.
It’s often said the life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Working alone is isolating and can have a negative effect on your mental wellbeing. Interactions in a work environment are an important part of daily life. Though you’ll be working on your own business, a coworking space surrounds you with like-minded people who have picked an independent lifestyle that matches yours. It will leave you feeling energised, social, and happy.
Networking through coworking
Working alone places a barrier between you and people who could potentially help your business. Coworking puts you near people who might have vastly different skillsets or solutions to problems, allowing you to “pick their brains.” If you can find a coworking space that aligns with your field of work, it makes this benefit all the stronger.
If you’re starting to consider office space, you’ll soon learn the baggage that comes along with it. Are you ready to sign a fixed-term lease? Are you ready to install infrastructure? Can you pay utility bills? A coworking space takes care of all of that, and allows you to rent the space on much shorter, more flexible terms.
If you’ve ever encountered self-doubt as a small business owner you’re not alone. Stepping out on your own removes the safety net we enjoy as a cog in a larger machine. Surrounding yourself with fellow entrepreneurs allows you to push through moments of self-doubt. You can even use them as a sounding board for your ideas.
…Disadvantages of working from home
Many people dream about being able to work at home. They imagine themselves in their immaculate home office zipping through tasks while sipping a green tea and savouring their new unparalleled efficiency.
After all, compared to the standard office, a home office is an oasis, and who wouldn’t be more done if they did not have to work surrounded by noise and constant interruption, and have to waste time attending unnecessary meetings?
The good news is that the number of meetings a person who works at home has to attend goes way down. The bad news is that there are still plenty of distractions and time wasters to contend with when you work at home.
A worldwide survey by Regus of 24,000 workers from over 95 countries, including Nigeria, revealed some interesting statistics about the disadvantages of working from home.
Work life versus family Life
Sixty per cent of respondents reported that children or family demanding attention was the number one issue when working at home. If you have a family, it is important to let them know when you are working and therefore unavailable.
Having a fully equipped office in a separate room in the house (so you can shut the door when necessary) is vital. Note also that your home office is not necessarily a suitable place for small children and pets to play.
Difficulty concentrating on work issues was the second biggest problem, reported by 45 per cent of those surveyed. Concentration killers include everything from noise from family or neighborhood activities to just observing that beautiful view of your backyard from your home office window.
Other people may have a hard time accepting the fact that you’re actually working at home (or trying to). Besides the usual doorbell ringers, well-meaning neighbours tend to pop by, assuming that you have time to chat, as you haven’t driven off anywhere to go to work.
Then there is the telephone. You will find that getting people to call you during your non-working hours rather than in prime time is a bit of a challenge. After all, you’re at home, right? These tips will help you deal with incoming phone calls.
Another disadvantage of working from home is that you have to motivate and organise yourself. No one is going to pop by your home office and tell you to get on with things. In addition, unless you’re really skilled at staying on a task, you may find yourself succumbing to temptation more easily when you work at home. Think about it. What is more appealing, making yet another sales call or playing with your child?
Business phone interruptions
Children, family and pets disturbing work telephone calls was reported by 40 per cent of respondents. Almost everyone who has spent substantial time working from home has experienced this issue. There is nothing like stepping on the cat’s tail while on a conference call or having your three-year-old let out a bloodcurdling shriek while you are on the phone explaining to your boss how productive your day has been.
Lack of office equipment
No access to office equipment was reported by 33 per cent of survey participants as a work from home disadvantage. If your work involves the use of specialised equipment it may be difficult to replicate this environment at home. Even with today’s inexpensive prices for electronic equipment, a high-end laptop or tower computer with multiple monitors and a high-speed multifunction printer/fax machine/copier can set you back some serious money.
Household noises such as washing machine, dishwasher, etc. was reported as a problem by 30 per cent of those working from home. In a separate category, TV noise was reported by 25 per cent of those polled. Following the basics of good small or home office design will alleviate many of these problems. But if your home has poor sound insulation or your home office cannot be isolated from sources of noise (such as being on another floor of the house) this will be an ongoing issue unless you can negotiate with your family about having some or all of these activities take place outside your working hours.
Access to documents
No access to sensitive company documents was reported by 25 per cent of respondents. If the documents are in paper-only form then frequent visits to the company office may be required. For electronic documents, it will be necessary to investigate ways of accessing documents safely over the Internet, such as a Virtual Private Networks or secure cloud access.
Lack of a proper work surfaces was reported by 25 per cent of those surveyed, and bad posture was reported by 23 per cent. Neither of these should be an issue with a properly equipped home office. Without a proper desk and decent office chair your back, neck and shoulders will eventually suffer.
There is also the temptation to slouch or put your feet up on the desk for extended periods because there is no one looking over your shoulder. It is nice that you can do this while working at home, but bad posture will inevitably lead to visits to the physiotherapist and/or chiropractor.
Getting around the disadvantages of working from home
The results of the survey are self-evident: if you’re going to work at home, rather than just be at home, you need to create an environment that will allow you to operate in a business-like manner. This includes having a properly equipped home office and organising your work schedule in ways that will discourage others from interrupting you and keep you motivated when you’re working at home.
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