Home office versus rented space – should I stay or should I go?

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that the number of self-employed people in the UK has reached over 4.7 million. With more and more people becoming self-employed, the issue of renting an office space or working from home is becoming increasingly pertinent for this workforce. The majority of people setting up their own business will, at least initially, work from home. This has many plus points – no commute, flexibility and the ability to claim utilities against expenses – but also comes with some negatives – including loneliness, self-motivation issues and lack of a ‘work-life’ balance, as the boundaries between work and home life can become blurred. The main problem with working from home comes when it’s time for expansion, either in the actual space required to run a business or when increasing your workforce. So what options are there for people who have outgrown the spare room in the house?

Extend your home

This is the most expensive, permanent solution for business owners and the costs can be prohibitive. Some people will choose to set up a home office in their garden, where everything can be run independently, including bathroom and kitchen facilities. This is a good solution as garden offices are relatively cheap to install and increase the value of your home. In terms of adaptability, they can be transformed into anything – a glorified shed, art room, rehearsal studio or even a 50’s-style ice cream parlour! This is also a good option for businesses undergoing expansion as several desks can be incorporated.

Renting office space

If extending your home or installing a garden office aren’t an option, or are a step too far in your business expansion, the other options are to rent space either in a shared office or rent your own premises.

Renting a desk in a shared office space is usually the first tentative step for sole traders looking to ease themselves back into ‘office life’. All amenities are supplied, including IT resources such as internet access, phones and the use of printers. In terms of finding a serviced office, online searches and networking within your community will uncover local opportunities.

Finding your own premises

While renting a desk works for one individual, for an expanding workforce this isn’t an ideal solution due to the costs, potential limits on space and privacy for your clients’ data. The ideal solution here is to rent your own premises, and just as you would contact a residential agent to rent or buy your home, commercial property agents should be your first port of call if you’re thinking of renting your own office. When looking to rent your own premises, there are several factors you need to be mindful of, the most important of which is the location. When you’re used to rolling out of bed and straight into the spare room or study, travelling to work again can be a shock to the system. So you’ll probably look close to home, but not too close. ONS data indicates that the average commute for workers in the UK is 57 minutes, but if you’ve been working from home the chances are you’ll want to be within 20 minutes of home. You’ll have to consider how far you’re prepared to travel and ensure it’s easily accessible for your team. Security, amenities, parking and planning your office layout are also key to the success of your business.

While renting your own office may seem a daunting prospect, with proper planning it can provide the ideal environment for your business to grow, while providing you with all the benefits of being self-employed along with the sociability of working in an office.

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