Choosing the right workspace for your business

Running your own small business has never been easier or more attractive. All you need is an internet connection and somewhere to sit and you’re in business. That’s the theory anyway. In reality, the place you choose to work can have a big impact on your future success.

In the early days of starting your own business, you may not have the financial resources to rent office space. Working from home is a cost effective way to launch your new career. Not only do you save on rent, but you can claim a tax deduction for many of the costs associated with running a home office.

But there is also a middle way. Co-working office spaces are popping up around the country to cater for people with big ideas who want to be part of a community of like-minded individuals.

So which is the best option for you to launch your big idea? There are pros and cons to each. The decision is ultimately a personal one and will depend on your personality, the way you like to work and your financial situation.

Nearly one million Australians run a business from home[1]

Pros and cons of working from home

Nearly one million Australians run a business from home[1], and it’s not hard to see why. A recent McCrindle survey of home-based businesses found just what you would expect. People loved the flexibility it offers to juggle work with other things, like the before and after school run. They liked being able to work in peace, without the disruption of office gossip and endless meetings. And there was relief at avoiding the stress of the daily commute, as well as transport costs.

But there are costs. When your computer malfunctions or a client wants to meet, you can’t call technical support or book the office meeting room. 

The work life balance you dreamed of can also be elusive. When you don’t physically leave the office at the end of the day, every hour is a potential work hour. The kids and household chores are frequent distractions, and the outside world refuses to believe you’re actually working.

Personality is also a factor. If you need people around to bounce ideas off and keep you motivated, then the isolation of working from home may not be the right option for you.

Pros and cons of co-working

Working for yourself doesn’t mean you have to work by yourself. In fact, working in complete isolation could be bad for business. It’s often the conversation in the coffee room, or collaboration with the person at the next desk, that provides the creative breakthrough you’ve been searching for.

Research from Stanford University found that people are more creative and productive if they have access to a variety of office spaces to suit their personality and work needs. Shared desks for throwing ideas around, private spaces when you need to concentrate, and meeting rooms where two or three people can collaborate without disturbing others.

This is the philosophy behind the spread of co-working spaces in metropolitan areas around Australia. For a relatively low cost, you get access to professional office services, social interaction and networking opportunities. There are also the Silicon Valley-style co-working spaces, with features such as ping pong tables and in-house baristas.

Working for yourself doesn’t mean you have to work by yourself.

Co-working operators, such as Fishburners, Hub Australia and Regus provide access to a shared desk from as little as $7 a day, and a dedicated desk from around $400 a month. But the benefits go beyond a desk and internet access.

Co-working offers the opportunity to collaborate and share skills as well as free legal, accounting and other professional advice. Some sites host social events and workshops on everything from fundraising to marketing. For instance, Fishburners has a weekly lunch group and Friday night beer, pizza and pitch-your-idea sessions.

What’s not to like? The only downside is that co-working costs a little more than working from home. And if you live a long way from the city centre, the time and cost of the commute may not be worth the effort.

The upshot is that even if your business is just starting out, working from your garage isn’t your only option. So see what’s available in your area and choose what’s best for your personality and your budget.

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