Working From Home VS Getting An Office

Wendy asks: My husband has wanted to have his own business since he was a little boy. Now in 2015 he’s finally realising this dream. He’s been put off starting his own business because he just can’t decide whether he should work from home or get an office. What do you think he should do Jo? 

First of all, good on your husband for starting his own business! With the New Zealand economy set to expand this year, there isn’t a better time for him to open shop.

When you’re young, working from home seems like a dream – watch TV, work from outside and have freedom to do what you want, when you want. However as we age, we realise the things we used to love about working from home are some of the biggest reasons why we shouldn’t work from home!

So the first question your husband will need to ask is how can he cope with distractions. Home is usually seen as a place of comfort – even just being there can lull one into a state of relaxation. Unfortunately relaxation doesn’t get the work done. If he can cope with his favourite couch, TV and a fridge full of snacks beckoning him, then he could handle working from home.

However if he does want to work from home, he will need to consider his image. He shouldn’t bring clients into his home for meetings – this is unprofessional and can be dangerous. Especially if the business expands and he has a range of clients.

His clients may not trust his expertise if they go to his home and see dirty socks and a pile of unwashed dishes. In business, image is so important. So if he does follow this route, he will need to hold all his meetings outside of the home such as at various coffee shops. This can become expensive quickly. But on the plus side, his coffee tolerance (read: dependence) will go through the roof!

Your husband will also need to consider whether he wants to expand his business. If the work needs to be done offline, then employees will need a space to all work together. It would be unfair on his potential employees to cram them all into your living room. And I doubt you would want to come home from work to find employees in your living room every night either Wendy!

Have you heard the adage it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? This really is true. If your husband doesn’t have a large network, working from home won’t help in any way. Even if he does have a large network, you never know who you may do business with. Renting an office – especially one with other business people, allows you to create more contacts.

Before you go and contact office landlords for him, you should consider the costs. Probably the biggest downside to offices is that they cost. As a new business owner, this is tricky to stomach. Especially when you don’t know how successful your business will be. It is a risk. And it’s certainly more expensive in the short term. But in the long term, it pays off.

But paying for office rent is not all bad. If your husband doesn’t like accounting or organising his money, renting an office takes away some of that stress. The office owner organises electricity and other expenses. Whereas at home, it can be difficult to gauge how much of your electricity bill comes from the TV and how much comes from using your home office computer.

In short, here are the pros and cons of each.

Working from home pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Cheaper in the short term
  • Great for new business jitters

Working from home cons:

  • Comfortable
  • Doesn’t leave room for expansion
  • Difficult to maintain professional image
  • Constant outings
  • Demotivating

Getting an office pros:

  • Appears professional
  • Allows for expansion
  • Cheaper in the long term
  • Easier for accounting
  • Great for motivation
  • Network with other people in the office

Getting an office cons:

  • Less comfortable
  • More expensive initially
  • Scary for first timers

The verdict: Check if your husband really wants a full thriving business or just a hobby. If he wants a full thriving business in the long term, tell him to hire an office. It definitely makes more business sense!

However if he decides he wants the best of both worlds, he could always rent an office and have a small home office. He could do the crux of the work at the rented office then pick away at any smaller work at home.