Home office or office-office?

For many small business owners, home is where it’s at: the commute and dress code are a cinch and the tax write-offs can save startups a lot of money.

Still, for some like Toronto-based Marija Main, owner of Currant Art Direction and Design Solutions, having an offsite office can become a necessity over time.

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 “I worked from home for three years but as my business grew, I sometimes needed to hire a production artist during busy times. It felt unprofessional having someone work from my dining room table.”

Marija recently bit the bullet and opened a studio near her home where three people can work comfortably – and where she can even do her painting on quiet days. It’s also close to where her children go to school and to her gym. 

Home office expert, Lisa Kanarek, says there are three big reasons entrepreneurs like Marija decide to relocate:
1. Interruptions: If you live alone, a home office can be the ideal place to focus and get your work done. But if you have a family, the once dreamy idea of being able to work near your family can turn into a nightmare if demands from your spouse and kids begin interfering with your assignments and client relationships.

2. Loneliness: We often take the office environment for granted and don’t appreciate the interaction and inspiration it can provide. While many people work well in isolation, for a lot of us, the impromptu visit from a coworker can provide a timeout when we need it most.

3. Growth: As Marija can attest, once you begin hiring employees – even part-time ones – working together on a regular basis in a small home office space may become a hindrance.

Marija’s expansion has had great perks:

“An important benefit for me is to provide my clients with a private space to discuss business… instead of hosting a meeting at my house or in a public coffee shop,” she says. “Plus, getting up from the office chair and brainstorming a client’s job in another environment really works!”

Some things to consider if you decide to get an office-office:
· Share a space – plus office equipment and a receptionist – with other small businesses. It can make the added expense more manageable.

· Negotiate a short-term lease – if the arrangement doesn’t work out, you won’t have that long to wait, or if your business continues to grow you’ll have more leverage when you renew with your landlord.

Here are more great tips from Lisa to help you decide if it’s time to move out of your home office.

Are you thinking of making the move? We’d love to hear why.

By Adam

February 08, 2010