Freelancers: work from home or rent office space?Posted on: Jun 18, 2018
When I started freelancing, the thought of renting an office never entered my head. And if it did, I would have surely scoffed loudly in a disparaging manner.
What would I need to rent an office for? Working from home was amazing! So much better than being stuck in an office all day.
And I was/am far, far too tight with money to contemplate parting with hundreds of pounds a month simply for somewhere to set up shop.
Renting an office seemed like an unnecessary expense. Fast-forward a couple of years, and I had most definitely changed my tune.
About halfway through 2017, I started to get the feeling that working from home was not only not amazing, it was actually starting to have quite a negative effect on both my work life and home life.
Case in point? I would spend all day staring at a screen, then schlep downstairs, slump on the sofa and turn on the TV. From screen to screen in under 60 seconds. Bad for my back, exhausting for the eyes and woeful for work-life balance. There was no time to process that the working day had truly ended, no commute to decompress and create that natural boundary between the office and home.
The other thing I noticed was a marked drop in motivation. It wasn’t that I was slacking off – I was always up and at my desk by 9am. It was more subtle than that. It was a disinclination to leave the house for networking events. It was the feeling that meeting a client (which of course required dressing properly and, horror of horrors, applying makeup) was a huge effort.
These warning signs started to niggle at me and I knew it was time to make a decision...
Working from home was no longer working. Was it time to bite the bullet and rent an office?
The main thing that put me off was the extra expense. I’ve always run a very lean business with few overheads but renting an office would be a significant cost every month. And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted quite a specific set-up: I didn’t want to just rent a desk in an open-office space. I wanted my own office, with a door to close and shut the world out.
Paradoxically, I also wanted to be in an environment with other small businesses, to create the support system that was severely lacking in my current working-from-home situation.
Amazingly, I found an office that ticked all these boxes, thanks to Louise at Armadillo Social. She invited me to her office at The Hall in Wolston, and I had a good feeling about it straightaway. It wasn’t a stuffy corporate office rental, it had a homely feel and lovely grounds. And as dumb luck would have it, someone was just moving out of one of the offices, so I snapped it up!
6 months on, and I’m still loving having my own office space.
It’s great to have Louise across the corridor, and Sarah from Mulberry web design next door. We share milk, biscuits and a sympathetic ear when someone’s having a difficult day. We collaborate and introduce each other to potential clients. It’s far exceeded my expectations of what renting an office would be like, and I’m so grateful to them for being so welcoming.
For me, the benefits of having my own office space far outweigh the financial costs. I wouldn’t be surprised if the extra work that’s come my way from my office neighbours actually off-sets the rent.
I even enjoy the short commute in every morning, giving me the all-important opportunity to indulge in one-woman Car Pool Karaoke on the way. On top of all that, I have plenty of storage space for all my illustrated merch. It's a win-win-win!
I know some freelancers are evangelical about the positive aspects of working from home, and it was great for me too, for the first couple of years.
There’s nothing like being able to put on a load of laundry while you answer your emails, and it’s true you’ll never miss another delivery again. And of course I loved being around my gorgeous cat Nibbles all day (less so when he got bored and tried to sit on my keyboard).
But for me, it stopped being the best option, even if it was the cheapest and most convenient.
If you’re working from home and the novelty is starting to wear off, my advice is to investigate other options sooner rather than later!
Read more of my blogs on freelancing and self-employment here