I opened my first company when I was 24 years old, following the traditional line of any other person I started working in my house, designated a special area to be my work desk and of course I visited clients at their offices as they had a pretty busy schedule to meet in my office, and yes! that was the best idea at that time. Some times when I had new prospects that wanted to meet in person, I invited them to drink a coffee and we will meet any of my multiple locations around the city, you may know them as Starbucks.
Later on, I had my first private office that included a reception area, conference room, and 3 private offices. After 2 years I decided to move to a better location and change the structure of my office for something modern, so I upgraded to a larger reception area, a great looking conference room and an open area to help as the bullpen plus 2 private offices.
After 3 years in that amazing space, I decided it was time to change, so I packed my bags and moved into a co-working environment.
Here is what I have learned so far:
Don’t be afraid.
One of the many reasons I kept my private office for so long was because of social pressure. I used to tell myself “People are going to think I can’t afford my own office?” “What are my clients going to say?” “My competitors have an office” “It doesn’t look professional”. The fear of people making opinions was the main reason to stop me from moving forward, but, after a while I realized I didn’t care what people think, I care about my clients, that’s why I give them the result they expect and for that, my office had no benefit. My clients are with me because of the value I bring into their business, not because of the looks of my office, and if that’s your case, there are plenty of options of nice-looking coworking spaces available. So if I can give you and advice: Don’t feel bad and don’t be afraid, your business is more important than a private office.
In the coworking environment you pay for what you use. I realized that in my old office I only had 20 meetings in one year and from those meetings only 10 required the use of the conference room, the other 50% were held at my personal office as a one-one meeting. You may see the problem now. I paid 12 months for a 12×15 space that I used only 20 hours a year and definitely without that space, I could save $200/month around $2,400/year. I can also mention the cost of the receptionist, and with this, I am not trying to say you should let go of yours, but if all you need is someone to greet clients and answer phone calls, it’s an idea that may help you reduce some cost.
Each business is different, but most of them have something in common “they want to have the best productivity” and for that, the office space and environment play a big role. In my company, I used to think that having my own space was the best thing and that it increased the productivity of my employees. But after a while I learn that it was not like that. My employees cared more about having high-speed fiber optic internet, which was not available at any of my previous offices. They cared more about unlimited free coffee and beverages at the break room other than preparing their own pot of coffee or run to the nearby Starbucks twice a day. They cared about having a nice balcony where they could go and take some air or having unlimited tonner and printing service rather than getting frustrated because they ran out of ink.
As a small business owner you pay attention to every penny you spend, but when you have a private office can be complicated as you get many different bills, rent, internet, cleaning, electricity, preference parking, phone and some others depending on the building. When working in a co-working space you only get one bill, everything in one payment with details on all the charges.
You may want to attend some of the networking events you get invited, but you prefer not to go just by thinking about the 20-25 miles you have to drive, plus the traffic time. If you are the type of person that prefer to stay out of networking events because of these reasons, then co-working may be a better choice. Most of the buildings offers networking events, like lunch and learn or conferences, where they may invite you to talk about your business. Coworking spaces invest a lot of money on building a community and by renting with them, you are also part of that community.
You should not keep an office just because of social pressure or because it’s the “way to go”. Times change and with the new technologies the options for people to work remotely helps startups and small businesses. Having an all-inclusive coworking space that allows you to work in a friendly environment, with fresh air, high-speed internet, unlimited coffee and many more amenities may be the best for your business.
Take a look to your business model and find the balance between what you need to have and what you want to have in your office space, that will help you find the perfect space for you and your team.